Crohn’s Disease… Watch What You Eat!

According to the CCFA (Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America), Crohn’s disease (CD) may affect as many as 700,000 Americans. Smokers are 2x as likely to develop Crohn’s vs non-smokers and is more prevalent among young adults between 15 and 35 years of age.  Crohn’s causes are idiopathic, but one’s diet, stress, genetic, and/or environmental factors may contribute and trigger an episode of Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s major symptoms include: bloating, gas, generalized abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite.  The biggest different between CD and Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is where the bowel disease occurs. CD mainly targets the gut (small intestine), while UC targets the colon. CD is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causing repeated remissions and exacerbations.  Controlling diet more will help to control and prevent additional episodes and the severity of these episodes.

Making dietary changes is critical to the incidence of an episode happening.  Consuming large meals, foods high in fat, and acidic foods/liquids (coffee, sodas, energy drinks) will most likely irritate the gut/small intestine.  Also, one should minimize their consumption of whole grains, raw fruits and veggies because of their high fiber content which will create inflammation in the small intestine (ie broccoli, asparagus, apples, pears, nuts, corn).

Also, drinking plenty of water and consuming supplements will aid the gut in providing hydration, but also aid the gut in getting adequate nutrients to the tissues it needs and ensures that daily metabolism is more efficient.  Because one is somewhat restricted in terms of what one can eat, getting supplements (multivitamin, gut support) is essential to support the body and get the nutrients one needs that one cannot obtain from their diet.*

*One should consult their health care professional to find out what supplements are right for you and if they are safe to take.

Lastly, managing stress can limit episodes and occurrences.  High stress creates inflammation internally and can decrease/affect metabolism and digestion of your various organs including your gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and small intestine.  Also, it causes your cells to release more cortisol (AKA stress hormone), which will prolong the inflammatory response, thus making your episode worse.

Changing these lifestyle habits will not eliminate Crohn’s, but it will make dealing with this IBD  more manageable to handle attacks when they come on.  Stay tuned to next month’s blog.  Hope everyone had a happy and healthy Memorial Day!

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