Can Diet Help Improve Pulmonary Hypertension? An Insight from Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research

Paleo diet

While reading a recent paper titled “Endothelial dysfunction in inflammatory bowel diseases: Pathogenesis, assessment and implications” I experienced a feeling a remarkable familiarity… I felt as if I was reading a paper about endothelial dysfunction in Pulmonary Hypertension.

It appears that endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction in both inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and pulmonary hypertension (PH) are quite similar: the same mechanisms of dysfunction abound, the same proinflammatory molecules are released. There is proliferation, smooth muscle cell tone activation, platelet aggregation, hypoxia, eNOS downregulation, imbalance between vasodilators and vasoconstrictors, etc. 

Even though this kind of makes sense (that pathology in a cell such as an endothelial cell could be quite similar regardless of what tissue/organ it occurs in), it nevertheless is quite interesting. And why is it interesting to me?

Because, as some of you may know, I’m a big believer that nutrition and diet, specifically low carbohydrate diets, can help prevent and alleviate many chronic diseases. In addition to low carbohydrate diets (like a Paleo Diet or Ketogenic Diet) making sense from an evolutionary context, since foods were scarce when we evolved (and there were no highly refined grains), these diets have also shown remarkable results; people with autoimmune conditions experience significant improvements on a Paleo diet (and even put them into remission), and ketogenic diets show great promise for treating brain tumors. There are a variety of other reasons why I think low-carb diets are beneficial, but I’ll save those for a later post, and direct you to some of the research that’s been done on Paleo and Ketogenic Diets, both of which, again, show great promise.

So what does this have to do with EC dysfunction and IBD and PH? Well, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease are classic cases of IBD and have been put into remission several times by following a Paleo type diet. If endothelial dysfunction is a primary cause and/or symptom of IBD, and endothelial dysfunction is similar in IBD and PH, then if diet can put IBD into remission, can it potentially put PH into remission? It’s a large jump. It could be true, but the opposite could be true as well, e.g. what if these diets are good for IBD but harmful for PH? There is much more research to be done, and many more points to be discussed (PH is a complex pathology involving multiple organs in addition to lungs), but it is interesting to think about nonetheless…

NOTE: Nothing in this post is written or intended to be medical advice. These are my own thoughts and opinions based on my research. I am not a doctor. I am merely a scientist with a passion for Pulmonary Hypertension.


  1.“Endothelial dysfunction in inflammatory bowel diseases: Pathogenesis, assessment and implications”
  2. Robb Wolf’s website & Paleo Diet Testimonials
  3. Loren Cordain’s website on Paleo Diet Research
  4. Dominic D’Agostino’s website on Ketogenic Diet Research & Resources
  5. Charlie Foundation website on Ketogenic Diet Therapies for Brain Tumors/Cancer

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