Biology of Disease – Inflammatory Bowel Disease

I delivered my Biology of Disease presentation at University today so now I can relax! It always amazes me how much time it takes to prepare for a presentation, it doesn’t matter if it’s only a ten minute presentation you still need to understand the detail and know what you’re talking about. It also takes forever to create a bibliography but it’s important to make sure you include all your references to show your source and avoid plagiarism.

My chosen subject was Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which I discovered is a chronic recurring and remitting autoimmune condition that results in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. I started my research by planning a research strategy and listed all the terms that I could use to search the online library catalogue.  This search strategy helped me to access a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, including various systematic reviews. As with any research it’s important to get the most up to date information as things change so quickly, sifting through is always a good idea.

My research confirmed that IBD is made up of two conditions Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, that both follow an unpredictable course with significant variation in pattern and complexity of symptoms. IBD is idiopathic (no known cause) and currently there is no cure.

Individuals with this disease can face a range of nutritional challenges including; malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, anaemia, osteoporosis, folate and Vitamin B12 deficiencies. These challenges can arise for many reasons including; nutrient malabsorption, poor diet, self-imposed food restriction, medication, persistent or bloody diarrhoea, restricting dairy intake and a low iron diet.  As a nutrition student it’s these nutritional challenges and how they can be overcome that most interested me.

It was reassuring to read in the ‘Standards for Healthcare of People who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease’ document updated in 2013 that all IBD patients should have access to a Dietician.

After considering all the evidence the conclusions for my IBD presentation were that more research is required to fully establish:

  • the aetiology (cause),
  • the biological effects of probiotics to aid prevention
  • which dietary components are harmful or beneficial

At the moment I’ve still got a head full of facts, figures and further questions about the subject that has been taking up all my time this week, so I’m really looking forward to going for a long run tomorrow to clear my head.






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