A Balanced Nutritious Diet for Crohn's Disease
A Balanced Nutritious Diet for Crohn’s Disease
By Mr Ghaz, January 2, 2010
A Balanced Nutritious Diet for Crohn's Disease
People diagnosed as suffering from Crohn’s disease often have a tendency to malnourishment either as a result of the effects of the inflammation in their intestine, or from changes they have made to their diet. It is therefore essential for anyone with the condition to plan their diet carefully.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 35. Symptoms of the disease usually fluctuate in severity, and may include internal pain, fever, diarrhea and weight loss.
The causes of Crohn’s disease are not fully understood. It may be an autoimmune response in which the body attacks its own intestinal tissue, as the result of an infection or a reaction to stress or other environmental factors. It has been suggested that the high incidence of the disease among people who eat a highly processed Western-style diet may be significant, while a style diet may be significant, while a nine-years study in Uppsala, Sweden, reported by The Lancet in 1994 found a link between Crohn’s disease and measles. More newborn babies in central Sweden went on to develop Crohn’s than expected during the research period, in which there were five epidemics of measles.
Crohn’s disease remains something of a mystery to the medical profession and as yet there is no cure, but effective medical treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory drugs. Many sufferers will need surgery to the most affected areas of the intestine at some time. Poor nutrition may be a result of the inflammation, which can cause the wall of the intestine to become scarred and thickened, obstructing the passage of food. Patients can also suffer from a loss of appetite.
Eating often becomes more difficult when the disease flares up. If the small intestine is inflamed, or if there is a narrowing of the bowel, eating may be helpful. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be given to those so severely affected they have difficulty absorbing any nutrients from food.
Food intolerance is now thought by most experts to be an important factor in Crohn’s disease. Many sufferers have reported that their symptoms seem to be made worse by particular food. The foods most often cited are grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye and maize), yeast, dairy products, nuts, raw fruits, shellfish and pickles.
Evidence suggests that medically supervised exclusion diets have benefited more than 50 per cent of people affected by Crohn’s disease. Patients can try eliminating particular foods, one at a time, from their diet for a few weeks to see if this brings an improvement, but care must be taken not to eliminate too many essential foods.
Possible vitamin and minerals deficiencies depend on the location of the location of the inflammation as well as the drugs prescribed, but they often include folate, found in liver, leafy green vegetables and pulses. Sufferers may also have low reserves of other B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), which is present in potatoes, offal, seeds and obtained mainly from eggs, meat, poultry, fish and fairy products, as well as form yeast extract and fortified breakfast cereals; and vitamin B6, which is found in whole-wheat bread, nuts and soya beans. Vitamins B12 may also found need boosting by eating lean meat, fish, milk or fortified breakfast cereals.
Other possible vitamin deficiencies include vitamin C, which is found in fresh fruit and vegetables-particularly blackcurrants and citrus fruits; vitamin D, found in fish such as herring, salmon and sardines; and vitamin K, provided by green vegetables, liver and tomatoes.
Levels of essential minerals may also become too low. Dairy foods, sardines and green leafy vegetables are valuable sources of calcium. Iron levels can be boosted by eating offal, oil fish and dark green leafy vegetables. And people with Crohn’s disease often need more magnesium, which can be obtained by eating fish and shellfish. Liver, fish and wholegrain cereals can help to compensate for the reduced absorption of selenium. Zinc levels can be increased by eating seafood, beef, dairy products and chicken.
There is some evidence that vitamin E-found in seed oils, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables and eggs. For example-may help to reduce bowel inflammation. However, this has yet to be proved by scientific studies.
There are specific foods that are known to cause Crohn’s disease and none that are known to cure it. However, by eating a balanced nutritious diet, avoiding only the foods that you are sure make your symptoms worse, you will minimize at least some of the disease’s unpleasant effects.