A diet supplemented with soya protein may ease the severity of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to research carried out on mice and cultured human colon cells.

The news comes ahead of World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day, May 19.

Researchers at Penn State University in the US found that soya protein concentrate had an antioxidant and cytoprotective effect in cultured human bowel cells and moderated the severity of inflammation in mice with induced inflammatory bowel disease.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterised by chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract, generally the intestine, the colon and the rectum.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue, appetite loss and weight loss.

Mice with an induced condition similar to ulcerative colitis were given a dietary soy protein concentrate (12%).

An equivalent amount of other forms of protein was removed from their diet to replicate a more human-relevant scenario.

Both body weight loss and swelling of the spleen improved in the mice.

What’s more, the scientists observed reduced inflammation in the colon and improved gut barrier function.

The researchers consider that the inflammation-moderating effects may be linked to soy protein, but not solely.

Good for digestive health

In fact, the soy protein concentrate contains 70% protein as well as some soya fibre, which could also have a beneficial effect on the digestive system.

The scientists plan further studies to investigate.

Four million people worldwide suffer from IBD. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are treated with anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory therapies or by surgery in severe cases.

The study is published in the Journal Of Nutritional Biochemistry. – AFP Relaxnews