A dysfunctional immune system that responds abnormally to bacteria and viruses such as H. pylori, cytomegalovirus, and Maycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). These bugs are all implicated in inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers speculate that a genetic defect causes the immune system to respond abnormally to bugs that normally live in the intestines.
Heredity. Mutations in a gene called NOD2/CARD15 tend to occur frequently in people with Crohn’s disease.
Environment. IBD is actually a rare occurrence in less developed, third-world countries that have fewer sanitation and hygiene protocols. One consequence of a modern, industrialized living environment is that ALL bugs tend to be wiped out, including good intestinal bugs, such as probiotics. An imbalance of intestinal flora due to an excessively sterile environment may be a contributing factor in IBD.
Diet. A highly refined, processed, sugary diet can contribute to an imbalance in intestinal flora. Candida, or yeast overgrowth, due to eating too much refined sugar and processed grains, can be a contributing factor in IBD. Also, an imbalance of intestinal flora may be caused by the lack of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cultured products, such as yogurt and kefir. In the modern American diet, it is actually difficult to replenish good bacteria, because there is a lack of good bacteria in the highly processed American diet.
Overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial products. The heavy use of antibiotics upsets the normal balance of intestinal flora. Also, the overuse of antibacterial products (handsoaps, detergents, etc.) creates an overly sterile environment. The intestinal tract needs a healthy dose of good bugs to function optimally, and these are obtained from the environment. Not all bugs are bad, and are actually indispensable for optimal health.
A weakened immune system, due to co-existing chronic conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, and other diseases.
Additional Information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease