Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the bowel. It usually affects the lowest part of the small intestine, but this disease can affect other parts of the digestive tract. The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding and weight loss, tiredness and anaemia.
This disease affects approximately 60,000 people in the UK. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 25. Crohn’s disease is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and even eating disorders.
Weight loss is one of the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease and occurs because the inflamed intestine cannot absorb nutrients, and because sufferers will eat less to avoid symptoms such as pain, diarrhoea and cramps. The lack of nutrients has the knock on effect of causing a lack of general energy and can result in illnesses such as osteoporosis due to a lack of calcium and magnesium in the diet.
Diet is very important in the management of Crohn’s disease. Certain foods can cause flare-ups, whereas others can help to reduce the symptoms. Foods that have found to trigger symptoms include wheat,dairy, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and citrus fruits. Foods containing yeast have been found to spark flare-ups.
Omega 3 oils, found in oily fish, flaxseeds and nuts such as walnuts and almonds, have an anti-inflammatory action. These foods will help to reduce inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease. The following foods tips can also help to control symptoms of this disease:
Aloe Vera juice. This has a calming action on the digestive tract. A dose of 20mls twice a day of a good quality brand will reduce digestive inflammation.
Papaya is an excellent digestive aid.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks. These foods can trigger attacks.
Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to repair the gut lining. Glutamine can be taken to heal the gut wall and make the intestines less permeable. This amino acid has also been shown to speed up the healing of digestive ulcers.
Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidusare helpful at reducing food intolerances.
Stress can aggravate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, so it is important to de-stress as much as possible. This can be achieved through exercise, yoga, meditation or any other method that works.