Could Flavonoids Be the Key to Treating IBD?


Altogether, there are many foods that promote your health, provide protection against disease, and improve bodily function. According to researchers, there is one that we should be paying more attention to: corn. Now, I know it’s not the time to make a corny joke, but I maize well. Within some types of corn are flavonoids, a type of anti-inflammatory plant metabolite. Based on mice models of the condition, researchers believe that flavonoid-rich corn could provide benefits for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Read the full findings in Nutrients.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) encompasses a number of conditions related to digestive tract inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. While doctors aren’t sure what causes these conditions, IBD is sometimes attributed to immune malfunction. Additionally, age, race, diet, stress, and cigarette usage are risk factors.

Symptoms vary, but may include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping and abdominal pain
  • Bloody stool
  • Fever
  • Changes in appetite

Learn more about IBD here.


To first understand why flavonoids are important, you need to understand what they are. According to Live Science:

Flavonoids are a diverse group of [over 6,000] phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Like other phytonutrients, flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.

Additionally, Live Science notes that flavonoids are linked to:

cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease prevention, [and] skin protection, brain function, blood sugar [regulation] and blood pressure regulation.

Flavonoids are generally better tolerated than drugs. When people eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables (and thus high in flavonoids), they reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and IBD.

Studying Corn

At the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, researchers developed an entirely new line of corn with flavan-4-ols. Ultimately, they wanted to understand whether these flavonoids could reduce colon inflammation in mice models of IBD.

To begin, researchers bred their line of corn using seeds from an inbred corn line, and from corn containing flavonoid genes. Next, they divided their mouse models into 4 groups:

  • The first received a standard (control) diet.
  • The second received a diet supplemented with 15% flavan-4-ols.
  • The third received a diet supplemented with 25% flavan-4-ols.
  • The fourth received a diet supplemented with corn related to the modified corn, but without flavonoids.

Ultimately, mice models fed a flavonoid-rich diet saw reduced colonic inflammation, better intestinal barrier function, and less digestive symptoms. Moving forward, this suggests that flavonoid-rich grains should be studied to determine efficacy for human protection.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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