Crohn's Disease and Your Diet
What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is a disease of the digestive tract. It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, a very painful occurrence. It also causes severe diarrhea which can lead to malnutrition. It is believed to be connected with the body's immune system.
Unfortunately when you have this disease your immune system can't tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign tissue. This causes and overactive response from your immune system that leads to chronic inflammation which is known as an autoimmune disorder.
What Causes Crohn's Disease?
There are many theories about what causes crohn's disease. After much study scientist seem to universally believe that it is caused by three basic factors: immune system problems, genetics and environmental factors or infections.
Immune System Problems
Normally the immune system is quite capable of telling the harmful microbes from the helpful microbes. People with Crohn's Disease have an immune system that can't tell one microbe from another. Soooo...their immune system attacks every microbes, even the one's that are there to help. Because the immune system is so busy attacking everything the digestive system becomes inflamed and is unable to stop being inflamed because the immune system can't stop attacking. It becomes a vicious cycle. This chronic inflammation eventually causes ulcers and other injuries to the intestines.
It is believed that genetics plays a role in Crohn's Disease. Between 10 to 20% of the people with this disease have other family members with the disease.
Infections (Environmental Factors)
At one time it was believed that measles increased the risk of developing Cronh's Disease. Since the development and use of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine it has been refuted by many studies.
Foods to Avoid
- coffee, tea, and chocolate
- foods high in fiber
- ice cold liquids
- raw fruits and vegetables
- spicy foods
- leafy greens
- gas producing foods
cabbage, broccoli, onions, lentils, beans, legumes
- dairy products
many people with Crohn's Disease are also lactose intolerant
- foods high in sugar
- nuts, peanut butter, other nut spreads and seeds
- fatty and fried foods
avocados are one of the fatty foods that most people forget about
- oils, butter, margarine and mayonnaise
- whole grains and bran
- alcoholic beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
- pork and red meat
What to Include in Your Diet
You will need to include foods rich is protein and vitamins. You especially will need:
Meat and meat substitutes - (Protein, iron and Vitamin B-12) - red meat, fish, poultry, eggs,
Certain types of dairy - (Calcium, Vitamins A and D) - cheese, ice cream, sardines, milk, yogurt, fish liver oils, liver, beef, chicken and peas *
Cereals and Grain - (zinc) - bran
Fruits and Vegetables - (calcium, zinc, Vitamins B-12 and C) - citrus fruits, bananas, apples
Omega 3 Fatty Acids - canola oil, olive oil, soybeans, flax seed, and oily fish
Complex Carbohydrates - whole grains, fruits, vegetables
Potassium Rich Foods - potatoes, bananas, and avocados
* For those who are lactose intolerant or during a flare up try using products for lactose intolerant.
Do's for Crohn's Disease and Nutrition
- Make sure you drink lots of water - 8 to 10 glasses a day. Drinking this amount of water with help prevent constipation and keep your body hydrated, both which are a problem for people with this disease.
- Eat smaller meals at more frequent intervals. Rather than eating 3 larger meals, 5 smaller meals a day are thought to help reduce flare-ups of this disease.
- Include products made for the lactose intolerant population. Or you may choose to add lactose supplements to your daily program.
- Ask your doctor about probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that aid in digestion. Some people have had success with digestion while using this aid.
- Do ask your doctor about including flax seed and fish oil in your diet. They are being used more and more to help fight inflammation in the bowels.
- Keep a food journal to help you pin down which food your body can tolerate and which ones they can't.
Foods to include during flare-ups
There are certain foods that seem to help during the flare-ups to help with the diarrhea and cramping
- potatoes, without their skin
- white bread
- broiled or steamed fish ( salmon, flounder, pollack, herring, halibut, and swordfish)
- white rice
- plain cereal
- fruit juice
- canned fruit
- cooked vegetables
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