For patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) being treated with aminosalicylates, high dietary intake of certain fatty acids may increase the risk of flare.

A total of 412 patients with UC in remission, took part in the multi-center, observation study. Each patient completed a validated food frequency questionnaire at enrollment and was followed for 12 months. Dietary intake (measured in tertiles) and disease remission/flare up were analyzed regarding macro- and micro-nutrients, and also food groups known to be associated with flares. 

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Assessment of median intake by tertile showed significant dose-response trends for myristic acid (P=0.007), total omega-3-fatty acid without supplementation (P=0.011), oleic acid (P=0.022), monounsaturated fat (P=0.022), saturated fat (P=0.033), eicosenoic acid (P=0.029), and palmitelaidic acid (P=0.036). However, a multivariable analysis showed that a dose-response relationship was retained only for myristic acid intake (OR 3.01, 95% CI 1.17 – 7.74).

Myristic acid is commonly found in coconut oil, palm oil and dairy products; the association between high dietary intake of myristic acid is a novel finding. Processed meats, alcohol and foods high in sulfur were not found to be associated with an increased risk of UC flare, as previous research has indicated. The authors of the study stated that the number of patients who experienced a flare was relatively small (45; 11%), and that could limit the study’s findings.

“These findings can help design interventional dietary studies to determine if supplementation or avoidance of certain compounds identified here might reduce the risk of a flare for patients with UC in remission,” concluded the authors. 

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