Managing Crohn's Disease
I’ve been doing some research and reading on Crohn’s disease with a client whose sister suffers from disease. I thought I's share what I've learned.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). As we all know, digestion takes place in the small intestines. But with Crohn’s disease the small intestine is inflamed. This means that the intestine is unable to digest food properly as well as absorb the required nutrients from the consumed foods. This usually results in severe diarrhea and those who have the condition also often have nutrient deficiencies resulting in weight loss, low levels of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.
Tips on what to eat when living with Crohn’s disease:
The internet is filled with diet plans for Crohn’s disease. But, there really is no one-size-fits-all diet plan to cure the condition. From what I've learned, the best treatment for those with the disease is to avoid foods that trigger the symptoms. Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease are always concerned about their dietary choices. However, no evidence suggests that any diet causes the disease or that it can be cured with specific foods.
Not sure which foods are creating a problem? Keep a food journal and write down the foods that you eat every day. Assess how they make you feel. Do they create more of a digestion issue or are they well-tolerated? Following this for a few days, will help you pinpoint the foods that you should be taking and avoiding.
But of course, those who have Crohn’s disease will certainly agree that some of the foods and drinks aggravate the symptoms especially when the disease flares. Since, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are diseases of the digestive tract; it is only natural that those who suffer from it, are extra careful about their diet. It is also important that they avoid foods that trigger their symptoms in order to promote long-term relief.
Can a liquid diet help Crohn’s disease?
A high-calorie liquid diet is often recommended to those who have Crohn’s disease. Taking high-calorie liquid drinks can provide with extra nutrition, especially at the time of flare ups and allow the intestines to recover.
Many individuals who have Crohn’s disease take Ensure and Boost Plus supplemental drinks, as these drinks are high in calories and provide the body with the nutrient boost it needs.
Foods that are highly recommended for people with Crohn’s:
Here is a list of foods that are said to be easy on the digestive systems of people with Crohn’s. The condition affects more than 1.6 million Americans and as stated above, there is no one food that works for all. Those who wish to improve their condition and alleviate the symptoms should seek their doctors’ advice and give these foods a try.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are well-tolerated by most people. Scrambled, hard-boiled, or omelets – eggs can be cooked in various ways to keep things interesting.
Yogurts are a rich source of probiotics or the “good bacteria”. A study published in the National Journal examined 40 patients with Crohn’s disease who were given a high-probiotic diet. At the end of the study, it was seen that 60% of the participants saw positive results while the 40% of patients had reduced symptoms.
When selecting yogurt, make sure you select the one that states “live-culture yogurt”. Also go for the plain kind without any added sugar.
Milk intolerance is common in those with Crohn’s disease. However, this does not mean you skip dairy products altogether. Almond milk is the best alternative for those who are unable to digest dairy products.
Almond milk is rich in vitamin D and E and contains as much calcium as regular drinking milk. However, make sure that you select almond milk without any added sugar.
Avocados are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, and good fats. It is also the only fruit to contain digestion-friendly soluble fiber.
Raw vegetables are known to aggravate the symptoms of Crohn’s. However, this does not mean that you stay away from the nutrients vegetables provide by avoiding it altogether. Health experts recommend taking vegetables in the form of soups, broths, and stock as well as pureeing vegetables for a highly nutritious meal that is easy on the stomach.
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are also known to have an anti-inflammatory effect and are highly nutritious as well. It is recommended that simple preparation methods are used to cook fish. Such as using spices in low to moderate levels to avoid any aggravation.
White rice is considered an old-school remedy for those with digestive troubles. However, white rice is not very nutritious but it is easy on the stomach and filling. Try mixing boiled white rice with yogurt or pureed vegetables for taste and nourishment.
Just like raw vegetables, fruits in raw form are rich in fiber. However, they are not easily digested by the small intestines and can increase flare-ups in Crohn’s patients. Doctors recommend altering fruits by cooking them without skin. For example, apples can aggravate the symptoms but making apple sauce from the same fruit can help ease digestion problems.
Red meat should be completely avoided by Crohn patients but they can intake their share of protein by eating white meat and turkey. These foods are easy to digest and you can cook them in different ways to keep your taste buds enticed.
Apart from following the above tips, make sure that you continue to visit your doctor and maybe seek advice from a dietician who will help you make better food choices. Managing your symptoms by avoiding foods that trigger Crohn’s can go a long way in improving the overall quality of the individual’s life.