Sometimes there is no easy way to get to grips with new research, you just have to get over the jargon and see the light at the end of the technical tunnel… this is what we are going to have to do with this update because it involves some potentially beneficial advise for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis sufferers.
The work involves the activity of a cell based receptor (receptors are rather like ears on a cell but these ears only hear specific words and only react to these words. In more biological terms these ‘words’ represent hormones or chemicals and the reactions involve the production or suspension of production of other hormones or chemicals by the cell). In this case the research revolves around a specific cell receptor called peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-gamma or PPAR-γ for short! This receptor is found on many cells throughout the body especially those cells that form the adipose tissue (body fat), muscular tissue and the tissue that forms the colon and small intestines. Now, this is where it gets interesting; recent work has identified these receptors, when activated, play a key role in the regulation of 1) the inflammatory process 2) the cell renewal process 3) cancer cell activity. To activate the PPAR-γ receptor substances called lignans are required to become attached. Once attached the PPAR-γ receptor starts doing its thing. (Lignans; natural substances commonly derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids, for example flax seeds are an abundant source of dietary lignans.) So far, activation of this receptor is associated with anti-proliferative effects (Anti-proliferative; inhibits cell growth, in this case cancer cells) in a number of cancers such as thyroid, pancreatic, breast, prostate and colon. In addition to the action, new research has shown that mice with an absence of these receptors in the gut were less able to fight off bacterial infections in the colon compared to normal mice.
Once the study was extended to include an analysis of human colon tissue it was discovered that those with Crohn’s disease also had reduced numbers of PPAR-γ receptors. The research team suggested that agents with known PPAR-γ activating effects could help these patients regain aspects of immune control and improve the subsequent inflammatory issues associated with inflammatory bowel disease. The lead scientist pointed out that dietary sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) can also boost PPAR-γ activity and have shown promise in improving colitis and colitis associated cancer. Sadly, dietary CLA is found in milk products and meats; the very foods that most Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel patients can’t tolerate well. Thankfully, a pure supplement form is available in powder form making it very suitable for those wishing to try it. Powdered CLA is commonly used by fitness enthusiast to help improve fat metabolism and muscle development. These new research findings may find many more people benefiting from CLA supplements. We would recommend using the powdered form for ease of intake and ease of dose adjustment. Mixing 2.5g (half a teaspoon) into hot or cold drinks or sprinkled over food twice a day would be the best starting point.