Some foods may aggravate Crohn's, but generally speaking, you should maintain a varied and nutritional diet. It may help to eat foods which are easily digestible, such as low residue food items.
Welcome and if this is your first time here, this page is dedicated to helping you understand Crohn's disease. Contrary to what you may find or read on the Internet, Crohn's disease is a disease that CAN be controlled. There is hope for a great percentage of individuals who suffer from Crohn's disease.
For some it may be as simple as a change in diet, while for others it may require surgery. Nevertheless, expanding your understanding of this disease is the first step in over coming it. Throughout this article, you will find mentions of SEROVERA® AMP 500. SEROVERA® is a dietary supplement that has been included by many individuals as one of their standard treatment options for Crohn's disease.
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On this page:
- What is Crohn’s disease?
- What causes Crohn’s disease?
- What are the symptoms?
- Crohn's Diet
- What foods to avoid with Crohn's Disease
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, also referred to as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohn’s disease can affect any area of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum. The swelling extends deep into the lining of the affected organ. The swelling can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.
The digestive system
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, the general name for diseases that cause swelling in the intestines. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to other intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, it can be difficult to diagnose. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the top layer of the lining of the large intestine. In Crohn’s disease, all layers of the intestine may be involved, and normal healthy bowel can be found between sections of diseased bowel.
Crohn’s disease affects men and women equally and seems to run in some families. About 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease, most often a brother or sister and sometimes a parent or child. Crohn’s disease can occur in people of all age groups, but it is more often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 30. People of Jewish heritage have an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease, and African Americans are at decreased risk for developing Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease may also be called ileitis or enteritis.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
Several theories exist about what causes Crohn’s disease, but none have been proven. The human immune system is made from cells and different proteins that protect people from infection. The most popular theory is that the body’s immune system reacts abnormally in people with Crohn’s disease, mistaking bacteria, foods, and other substances for being foreign. The immune system’s response is to attack these “invaders.” During this process, white blood cells accumulate in the lining of the intestines, producing chronic inflammation, which leads to ulcerations and bowel injury.
Scientists do not know if the abnormality in the functioning of the immune system in people with Crohn’s disease is a cause, or a result, of the disease. Research shows that the inflammation seen in the GI tract of people with Crohn’s disease involves several factors: the genes the patient has inherited, the immune system itself, and the environment. Foreign substances, also referred to as antigens, are found in the environment. One possible cause for inflammation may be the body’s reaction to these antigens, or that the antigens themselves are the cause for the inflammation. Some scientists think that a protein produced by the immune system, called anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF), may be a possible cause for the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain, often in the lower right area, and diarrhea. Rectal bleeding, weight loss, arthritis, skin problems, and fever may also occur. Bleeding may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia. Children with Crohn’s disease may suffer delayed development and stunted growth. The range and severity of symptoms varies.
Fact is there is no scientifically proven diet for inflammatory bowel disease. Most experts believe, though, that you can identify specific foods that trigger your gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly during disease flares. By avoiding your "trigger foods," you may find that your GI symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea are more manageable. At the same time, you will give your inflamed intestines time to heal. With Crohn's disease, it's important to follow a high-calorie, high-protein diet, even when you don't feel like eating. An effective Crohn's disease diet plan, based on recommendations from experts, would emphasize eating regular meals -- plus an additional two or three snacks -- each day. That will help ensure you get ample protein, calories, and nutrients. In addition, you will need to take your doctor-recommended vitamin and mineral supplements. By doing so you will be able to replenish the necessary nutrients in your body.
Which foods should I avoid with a Crohn's disease diet plan?
The foods that trigger symptoms differ for each person with Crohn's disease. To know which foods to leave out of your diet plan, you'll need to determine which foods trigger yours. Many people with Crohn's disease find that the foods on the following list aggravate symptoms during disease flares. So it's likely that at least some of these listed foods will trigger your symptoms:
- alcohol (mixed drinks, beer, wine)
- butter, mayonnaise, margarine, oils
- carbonated beverages
- coffee, tea, chocolate
- corn husks
- dairy products (if lactose intolerant)
- fatty foods (fried foods)
- foods high in fiber
- gas-producing foods (lentils, beans, legumes, cabbage, broccoli, onions)
- nuts and seeds (peanut butter, other nut butters)
- raw fruits
- raw vegetables
- red meat and pork
- spicy foods
- whole grains and bran
Once you've identified foods that cause your symptoms to flare, you can choose either to avoid them or to learn new ways of preparing them that will make them tolerable. To do that, you'll need to experiment with various foods and methods of preparation to see what works best for you. For instance, if certain raw vegetables trigger a flare, you don't necessarily need to give them up. You may find that steaming them, boiling them, or stewing will allow you to eat them without increased GI symptoms. If red meat increases fat in the stools, you could try eating ground sirloin or ground round to see if you can tolerate a leaner cut of beef. Or you might decide to rely on low-fat poultry without skin and fish as your main sources of protein.
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