Here’s your new weekly challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot and in the right direction for bringing health to your week. 

As most of you who read my blog know, diet has a huge influence on our health. I always recommend a high fiber diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. The more plant-based the better. 

A new systematic review of diet risk factors for the development of IBD—inflammatory bowel disease, of which Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common—has similar recommendations. The review looked at 19 different diet studies in IBD patients involving 6,609 people. The results of this huge review found that high intakes of total fat, polyunsaturated fat, omega-6 fatty acids and meat were all associated with an increased risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

When looking at protective diet factors, high fiber and fruit intakes were associated with decreased risk of developing Crohn’s disease and high vegetable intake was associated with decreased risk of ulcerative colitis.

Now, let’s look at the big picture here, because many people get caught up in the details and take each study word for word—and with all the new studies coming out, that could make you crazy. What is this review saying? It’s saying that eating a healthy diet—high fiber, high fruit and vegetable, low in inflammatory omega-6 fats, not too much fat, low meat—can help protect against inflammatory bowel disease.

This same diet is protective of many chronic diseases, in one way or another. One reason it is so great for the intestinal tract is that it is an anti-inflammatory diet. It helps to quell gut inflammation, which is at the core of intestinal disease, as well as much of the body’s illness.

So, this week, if you know someone dealing with intestinal issues, pass this along to them. Or take them to lunch at that new healthy restaurant down the street and order a nice big salad. You’ll both benefit from it. Make this a lifestyle, people. It’s worth it!