Salad Deficiency” Causes Ulcerative Colitis in Gorillas

It’s Prob­a­bly an Impor­tant Cause of Ulcer­a­tive Col­i­tis in Humans, As Well.

Ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis” means open sores in the large intes­tine, which is also called the colon. This con­di­tion can cause severe abdom­i­nal pain and cramp­ing as well as bloody diar­rhea. The “leaky gut syn­drome” that results can cause joint pain and make the per­son feel sick all over.

Wild goril­las eat an extreme­ly high-fiber diet, con­sist­ing main­ly of leaves. Cap­tive goril­las that were fed a low-fiber diet were prone to severe ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis. The same thing might be hap­pen­ing in peo­ple with ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis.

High-fiber veg­eta­bles and fruits have sev­er­al ben­e­fi­cial effects on the large intes­tine:

  • Fiber absorbs water and keeps the mate­r­i­al inside the intestines nice and soft.
  • Fiber makes every­thing go through faster, which means that the wall of the intes­tine gets less expo­sure to harm­ful sub­stances, such as bile acids and free ammo­nia.
  • High-fiber fruits and veg­eta­bles pro­vide impor­tant nutri­ents and antiox­i­dants that are good for the health of the intestines, as well as the rest of the body.
  • Bac­te­ria in the large intes­tine fer­ment some of the fiber, releas­ing short-chain fat­ty acids such as butyrate, which is the favorite fuel of the cells that line the large intes­tine. On a low-fiber diet, those cells could starve to death.

Are Researchers Bark­ing Up the Wrong Tree?
When I looked up what clin­i­cal tri­als were being done on ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis (, I found lots of tri­als of drug treat­ments, some tri­als of “pro­bi­otics” (bac­te­r­i­al cul­tures), a few tri­als of sur­gi­cal treat­ments, and even a few tri­als of psy­chother­a­py and hyp­no­sis. There were some stud­ies in which peo­ple receive butyrate in high-colonic ene­mas. There were even some tri­als in which peo­ple were fed mare’s milk or fish. Apes don’t milk mares or catch fish, so why would any­one imag­ine that peo­ple would have to do that to keep their intestines healthy?

In oth­er words, there were 224 clin­i­cal tri­als involv­ing all sorts of drugs and surgery and so on, but no clin­i­cal tri­als try­ing the obvi­ous ther­a­peu­tic approach, which is a change to a healthy diet. We know that a low-fiber diet caus­es ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis in goril­las, which have a diges­tive sys­tem almost iden­ti­cal to our own. We also know that eat­ing wheat prod­ucts can cause bloody diar­rhea in a tiny minor­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion. So why isn’t any­one doing research about how to coun­sel peo­ple to solve this prob­lem by cor­rect­ing their diet? Here’s a link to a descrip­tion of a sim­ple yet health­ful exclu­sion diet:

If you want your colon to be healthy, you have to feed it prop­er­ly. If you already have ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis or any oth­er prob­lem with your intestines, ask your doc­tor to refer you to a reg­is­tered dietit­ian (RD) for dietary advice.