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Crohns and Junk Food

Updated on January 24, 2016

Nutritional Needs For Those With Crohns

When I was first diagnosed with Crohns Disease I encountered various difficulties in my day-to-day life: I became very fatigued, I was in a lot of pain and I seemed to be spending most of my time in the bathroom. What I didn't expect, however, were the drastic changes I would have to make to my personal eating habits.

I soon found that some foods would leave me with crippling pains throughout my abdomen, while others would cause me to have blood or mucus in my stools. I found that junk food had such a negative effect on my health and made me suffer more than was necessary.

An important point I found was that no two dietary requirements of those with Crohns were the same: my aunt, who also suffers from Crohns Disease, is able to eat foods that I cannot eat without any consequence, and vice versa. What I did find was that there are "neutral" foods which were easy for my stomach to digest and would have little to no effect on my everyday life.

Tasty But Terrible

Now, I love junk food just as much as the next person: salted peanuts, "for sharing" packets of crisps and chocolate are the perfect ingredients for a happy Shannon.

We've all seen the government posters about diseases associated with too much fat and salt in your diet. We've seen documentaries on morbidly obese persons who suffer from clogged arteries and heart disease. We've seen the adverts on television about eating low-fat and low-calorie meals. We think to ourselves, surely junk food can't be all that bad? I can have one treat a day and it won't do me any harm.

This can be true for the average person, but not someone suffering from Crohns Disease.

Professor Chris Probert Explains How Junk Food May Be a Trigger for Crohns Disease

According to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the percentage of teenagers who suffer from Crohns Disease has jumped by over 300 percent within approximately ten years.

Between 2003 and 2004, 4,937 people between the ages of 16 and 29 were admitted to hospital for Crohns Disease treatment in England, whereas in 2015 this number had soared to 19,405 people admitted. This is a shocking growth in firstly the amount of people suffering from the disease, and secondly, the amount who have had to have been admitted to various hospitals for pain management, medicinal treatment and surgery for those suffering from complications.

But does junk food really have an effect on the rising number of people reported to have Crohns Disease?

Sally Mitton on BBC Breakfast

In my genuine opinion, I believe that Crohns Disease is caused by a multitude of different factors such as a diet trigger leading to an incorrect immune response, or byproducts of your environment. I myself do not believe that junk food is to blame for the increase in people who suffer from Crohns Disease or have to be admitted to hospital for the disease.

I believe that what triggered my illness was a variety of environmental factors and stress I was feeling at the time. I also was eating quite poorly and spent a lot of my time hungry. I developed erosive gastritis, which is incurable, before I was actually diagnosed with Crohns so I believe this may have been a trigger.

So many people have responded to the media's coverage of whether junk food can cause Crohns Disease and very few of these people actually believe that this is the cause. In my opinion, there are far too many persons who have lived very healthy and active lifestyles and have still gotten Crohns Disease for it to be a product of the food that we eat or the activity within our everyday lives.

Do you think Crohns Disease can be caused by junk food?

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