The fats change the bacteria in the gut—known as the microbiome—which reduces some of the distressing symptoms of Crohn's, such as swelling, cramping and diarrhea.
The fats reduce the types of bacteria that are linked to Crohn's by around 30 per cent, researchers from the Case Western Reserve University have discovered. Because the fats lower inflammation, they could have the same beneficial effects on other inflammatory bowel disorders too.
The good fats they tested are plant-based, rather than the saturated fats from animals, the researchers say.
"The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn's patient could have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation only by switching the type of fat in their diet. Patients would only need to replace a 'bad' fat with a 'good' fat, and eat normal amounts," said lead researcher Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios.