- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's, and Diet
Management of Crohn's Disease
Diet is a very important aspect of keeping Crohn's under control. Many diets across the internet make claims of amazing results. Although there may be some benefits and possibly bring years if not a lifetime of remission, once diagnosed with Crohn's, the disease will always be present. Ulcerative colitis, although very similar to Crohn's, it is a little different. For one, some say there is a cure, although it is not without its side effects.
Although these simple tips are not a magical cure, they definitely will help some sufferers get and stay in remission. Even with the strictest watch on your diet, sometimes medicinal and physician help is necessary.
Drink Lots of Water
The most important need is to drink plenty of liquids. Whether you have constant diarrhea or constipation, water is essential. You want to make sure you have plenty of liquid and electrolytes so that you do not become dehydrated.
Although it is recommended to have 8 cups of water a day, if you have a lot of intestinal issues, you may need something with electrolytes such as pedialyte, gatorade, powerade, etc. Each person is different, so how much water you need to consume depends on many factors. Your best clues is paying attention to whether your lips get chapped easily, your eyes feel dry, you have not peed for several hours. With any of these cues, you can be sure that you are not receiving adequate water.
No food causes flare-ups. On the other hand, you may find that certain foods irritate an already existing flare-up. Keep in mind that just because a food irritates your Crohn's or colitis one day, does not mean that it will irritate your intestines every time you eat that food. Sometimes it is the chemicals added, such as preservatives or pesticides that are the true culprit. Also it is common to discover that you can eat foods you couldn't eat a year ago, and vice versa. If you are doing well, add foods that you couldn't eat before very slowly in your diet. Try to choose organic produce to reduce use of chemicals that may cause sensitivity.
Another "food" that is a known aggragate is caffeine. Caffeine speeds up the digestive system, which would cause an increase in bowel movements. This may benefit you if you are constipated, but very bothersome if you have diarrhea.
Milk often gets a bad name, because it affects many people, but don’t automatically blame it, because milk has many essential vitamins that you need. Often times, people will unnecessarily cut dairy out of their diet, when they don’t need to. If you do feel this is a concern, experiment. Keep your diet the same as always, but cut milk products out. If you get better, then it’s a good idea to avoid that particular food for a while. You may want to try adding cheeses and other dairy products slowly, to see if is just milk in certain forms that irritate your digestive lining.
IBD and Diet
Role of Fiber in Diet
Fiber is an extremely important component of your diet. Although it is important to recognize when you should be eating it and when you should not. When you are in remission, it is important to increase your intake of fibrous foods such as bran, apples, and salads. Your colon is much like a muscle that needs to firm to stay healthy. By eating fibrous foods this allows your colon to be exercised and cleansed.
Ironically, what helps you remain in remission should be avoided at any notice of any ulcerative colitis or Crohn's symptoms. Both of these diseases causes tears in the lining of your intestines. By eating fibrous foods while these tears are present, you are not allowing them to be healed. The fiber brushes against them aggravating them with each passing not allowing them to heal, causing more irritation, resulting in more diarrhea or constipation and more bleeding. It’s best to stay on a low fiber diet when in a flare-up.
Images of an Unhealthy ColonClick thumbnail to view full-size
Don't Give Food a Bad Name Because It Made You Sick Before
As I pointed out earlier, just because a food caused a flare-up once, does not mean it will always cause a flare-up. Be careful about avoiding foods indefinitely after an irritation. This is a common mistake people do that suffer from these diseases, and end up restricting their diet so severely, they stop ingesting enough nutrients from food, or rather enough variety of foods. By missing certain nutrients your body may actually become sicker with these diseases because they lack a foundation to fight against flare-ups.
Don’t be afraid to try a food that previously caused you problems. You may find that it does affect your stomach one month, then not the next. The reason for this is unknown. Although if you find it irritates it after you try to put it back in your diet, there may be a possible food allergy and it should be avoided.
IBDs Sometimes Cause Low Grade Fevers
One thing often overlooked in those with IBD is that when someone does run low-grade fevers for long periods of time, they will burn more calories. This means that a person who runs frequent fevers, should actually ingest more calories. Though it’s not merely the quantity of those calories but also the quality of what is in them.
Diet is a very important part of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's. There are many really great diets out there. You will find many of them in the comments to my other hubs. If you know of one that worked for you, feel free to post it as a comment so others can see these great diets. I encourage you to try one that seems right for you for about a month, if you see improvement, stick with it. If you don't, then it's time to try a different thing.
© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz