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Crohn's Disease and Your Diet

Updated on May 25, 2014
Crohn's Disease
Crohn's Disease | Source

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?
What causes Crohn's Disease? | Source

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.

Avoid spicy foods
Avoid spicy foods | Source

Foods to Avoid

carbonated beverages

  • 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
  • popcorn
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • pork and red meat

Crohn's disease food
Crohn's disease food | Source

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
  • broth
  • bananas
  • white bread
  • broiled or steamed fish ( salmon, flounder, pollack, herring, halibut, and swordfish)
  • white rice
  • applesauce
  • plain cereal
  • fruit juice
  • Gatorade
  • canned fruit
  • cooked vegetables


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      awordlove, my my you are one brave person. I think you are right we do tend to write what we know best.

    • awordlover profile image

      awordlover 5 years ago

      It is nice to read a fellow hubber who writes on autoimmune disorders too. I have Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn's Disease which also happen to be what most of my hubs are about. LOL I guess we write what we know best. Good hub, voted up. :-)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      chanroth, thanks for reading. I appreciate you comment.

    • chanroth profile image

      chanroth 6 years ago from California, USA

      Wow, this hub is very informative and I love reading health article! This is absolutely useful! Thank you! :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thanks b. Malin. I also had a friend with this disease. It was agony watching her suffer.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals, This was such a well written, and Informative Hub on Crohn's Disease. I had a Friend when I lived in Baltimore, many years ago who suffered with it. I visited her many times in the Hospital when hers flared up.

      I look forward to Following your Hubs.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Diet is probably one of the most important things that help Crohns's Didease. Thanks for reading.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Very useful and interesting hub. I had no idea how big an effect diet can have on this disease.

      Thankl you for sharing this with us. Very useful to know.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Ehtesham, thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Barbara Kay, That particular comment about bellyaching made me very angry. I have a good friend who has Crohn's Disease and I know from being around her just how awful this disease is. I wanted to put out a little help in my own way to thoses who are suffering with it.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      jenubouka, I myself wonder why there is no help for this disease. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      I read the above comment about a woman bellyaching about a bellyache above. Because I have Crohns disease, it made me almost angry.

      I am happy to see you posted a list of foods that bother Crohns. When I first had it, my doctor told me I could eat anything. I went through a lot of suffering that I wouldn't have had to if I would have had a list like that above.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      I was just reading one of my "diet" books about this. I used quotations because it is more of a way of eating centering around omega fatty acids and how certain food can help Chrons disease and which ones to stay far away from. This was an incredible amount of information, love the quick list guide to avoid and what to eat when there is a flare up.

      How can there not be a cure?!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      stephhicks68, There are so many auto-immune disorders out there and many of them are not understood by most. I heard someone make a comment about a woman with crohn's disease bellyaching about a little bellyache. That's why I wrote this hub. I wanted to let people know this is a very painful disorder. I also wanted to try to help a little by letting people know what to avoid and what they might be able to tolerate. Sorry about your family members.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      thumbi7, Thanks for reading.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Excellent hub on this disease. We have auto-immune disorders throughout both sides of my family tree. I have 2 cousins with Crohn's Disease (I have Type 1 diabetes myself). When my cousins get sick, they are VERY ill - have even been hospitalized. Very helpful tips on foods to eat and avoid, as well as staying hydrated and more. Rated up

    • Ehtesham12 profile image

      Ehtesham12 6 years ago from Islambad

      Thanks for this info.Its very useful

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 6 years ago from India

      The hub is very informative. Thanks for the share