INTESTINAL COLITIS multicentric study
INTESTINAL COLITIS by Dr. Graziano Pengo: nutritional instrument for intestinal problems
Chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases are gaining increasing importance in small animal clinical medicine.A suitable diet seems to be the best complement to new therapeutic approaches, as it promotes restoration of optimum physiological conditions in the digestive tract.Specifically, it has become very clear that dietary fibre plays an important role in a healthy balanced diet, as it helps to normalize intestinal activity and balance bacterial flora. The purpose of increasing the amount of fibre in the diet is to rebalance the relationship between fibre and the other food components. It is well known that, under natural conditions, dogs have a diet that is composed of a variety of unprocessed foods that includes both muscle tissue and lesser parts of the animal (bones, tendons, skin, feathers, intestinal contents of herbivore prey, etc.). Food that has a low nutritional value, but a high content of fibre and roughage, therefore represents a significant portion of the meal.Although these components are low in nutrients, they play an important role since they contribute to:
- maintaining proper functioning of all parts of the gastrointestinal tract;
- maintaining a proper balance in the intestinal bacterial population;
- efficient peristalsis, both segmental and linear;
- proper faeces formation;
- proper distribution of absorption of the various nutrients along the intestinal tract;
- maintaining appropriate intestinal microclimate conditions, including proper pH and moisture levels.
Dietary fibre is generally divided into two main categories – soluble and insoluble. Soluble dietary fibre is composed of various components of plant origin, including pectins, gums and mucilages. When combined with water, soluble fibre forms a gelatinous mass that has a high satiating effect, as it distends the gastric walls and thus activates the mechanoreceptors that transmit a feeling of fullness to the brain. In addition, it has chelating properties and, due to the jellifying effect within the intestinal lumen, it increases the viscosity of the intestinal contents and consequently slows intestinal evacuation. A portion of the soluble dietary fibre is composed of oligosaccharides.Due to their composition and make-up, oligosaccharides are resistant to hydrolysis by the digestive enzymes of non-herbivore monogastric animals and therefore resistant to subsequent absorption. Since the fibre is not absorbed by the animal’s intestinal tract,it is available for fermentation by bacterial flora, which transforms it into methane, carbon dioxide, water and volatile fatty acids (VFA). In non-herbivore monogastric animals,including dogs, the fermentation processes take place exclusively in the colon, which contains “resident microbiota” composed of a large number of bacterial species. This bacterial flora has important functions in the host organism that include: stimulating the mucosal immune system, producing growth factors for proper development of intestinal mucosa, synthesizing approximately a quarter of all of the folates present in the body as well as other vitamins, modulating cholesterol absorption and replenishing bile acids.Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, is composed primarily of polysaccharides, like cellulose and lignin, and has the ability to absorb a considerable amount of water.Due to this characteristic, it increases the size of the faecal mass, thereby increasing motility and accelerating intestinal transit. As a result of its hygroscopic nature, insoluble fibre prevents constipation and diverticulitis by making the faeces larger, softer and more pultaceous. It has been demonstrated in humans that insoluble fibre can prevent certain types of tumours in the colon-rectal tract. This occurs because the water in the fibre dilutes toxic substances present in the intestinal lumen and increases the transit velocity, thereby reducing the time that toxins are in contact with the intestinal wall.Due to the various important positive effects of dietary fibre, it can easily be assumed that the low dietary fibre content of most commercial dog foods could have a negative impact on several of these mechanisms and equilibriums, resulting in numerous chronic inflammatory diseases in the gastrointestinal tract over time.Increasing the amount of fibre in the diet, while providing the proper ratio of soluble to insoluble fibre, therefore has the specific function of facilitating a return to normal conditions, particularly in subjects with chronic intestinal inflammation. The fibre selected for this purpose is provided by Ascophyllum nodosum, a brown algae found in coastal Northern Europe that contains the optimum percentages of soluble (80%) and insoluble (20%) fibre.The beneficial effects provided by the well-proportioned amount of fibre are synergistically combined with hydrolysed fish protein. Thanks to the low molecular weight and almost complete absence of contamination for pharmacological residues, this protein offers important non-allergenic properties. As a result, it does not stimulate the immune system in subjects with chronic inflammation, which can be prone to food intolerances due to an alteration in the mucosal barrier.