Crohn’s And Colitis Awareness

Adopt These Dietary Measures This Crohn’s And Colitis Awareness Week For A Healthy Gut

Every year, the 1st to 7th of December is observed as Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to put a light on the challenges that people suffering from these ailments face. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic diseases that affect the quality of life of the sufferers. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that affects your health adversely. It may affect any part of your digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis is another long-lasting inflammatory condition affecting only the large intestine or colon. Both these gastrointestinal conditions make you suffer from severe cramping, undesirable weight loss, abdominal pain, debilitating discomfort, fever, and other symptoms that deteriorate your quality of life. Fortunately, with the right treatment and dietary and lifestyle modifications, you can manage these health conditions effectively. So, you might be wondering what exactly Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are and how you can manage these conditions with the right diet naturally, aren’t you? Get to know all about these inflammatory conditions by reading this blog below..

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation or swelling of your digestive tract’s tissues. The inflammation due to this condition may involve different areas of the gastrointestinal tract in different individuals, most often it’s the small intestine. The inflammation of Crohn’s disease often affects the deeper layers of the bowel. Its common symptoms include weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, severe diarrhoea, and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease can be debilitating and can lead to life-threatening complications. Although there is no cure for this digestive health condition, certain therapies can alleviate the discomforting symptoms and help you experience long-term remission.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease:

Although the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not yet clear, several factors are believed to have a role. They are:

  • Immune System: Bacteria and viruses may trigger Crohn’s disease. Your immune system tries to combat the invading microorganisms and environmental triggers, and the immune response may make the immune system attack the digestive tract’s cells.
  • Heredity: Crohn’s disease may occur in individuals having a family history of the disease. So, genes play a crucial role in making people suffer from it.

Age, smoking, and NSAIDs are other risk factors involved. Also, an unhealthy diet and stress can trigger the condition.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease:

The symptoms of this gastrointestinal disease range from mild to severe. They may develop gradually and, at times, may occur suddenly with no warning signs. Typical symptoms of the disease when it is active include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Mouth sores
  • Weight loss and reduced appetite
  • Drainage or pain around the anus due to inflammation from the fistula, which is a tunnel into the skin.

How Diet Can Help Manage Crohn’s Disease?

Dietary modifications can help ease your symptoms of Crohn’s disease and lengthen your remission phase. During your remission phase, you need to ensure that you have a nutrient-dense diet. Eliminating the foods and beverages that trigger the symptoms from your diet can help prolong your remission period. You may maintain a food diary and figure out after eating which foods you experience the symptoms or flare-ups of Crohn’s disease and avoid them. Here are some dietary tips that can help you obtain relief from your digestive condition.

Dietary Measures for Managing Crohn’s Disease:

  • Restrict Your Intake of Dairy Products: Several individuals with gastrointestinal disease find that the discomfort soothes after limiting or eliminating dairy products from their diet. If you are suffering from lactose intolerance, it would be wise to avoid dairy products as your body may not be able to digest milk sugar i.e. lactose present in the dairy products.
  • Prefer to Eat Small Meals: If you are in a habit of eating two to three large meals, avoid it. Instead, consume five to six small meals daily. This will help ease your symptoms.
  • Drink Plenty of Healthy Fluids: Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids daily. Plain water is the best fluid for people suffering from Crohn’s disease, as it aids digestion. You may also have tomato soup, broth, and other nutrient-rich fluids.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeinated Beverages: The intake of caffeinated drinks and alcohol stimulates your affected intestine and worsens your diarrhoea when you are suffering from Crohn’s disease. Also, stay away from carbonated drinks as they produce gas.
  • Curb Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of developing Crohn’s disease. And, if you already have this health condition, smoking can worsen your symptoms. Crohn’s disease sufferers who smoke are more likely to experience relapses and require medicines and medical procedures. So, it is wise to work on quitting smoking for better health of your digestive tract and overall well-being.
  • Devour Fibre-rich Foods: Add nuts, oat bran, whole grains, beans, and barley to your diet when you are in the remission phase of Crohn’s disease, provided you don’t have an ostomy, which is narrowing of the intestine. If your doctor recommends low-fibre post-surgery due to strictures, go for it.
  • Add Proteins: Enrich your diet with fish, nuts, eggs, and lean meats when in a remission phase.
  • Go for Calcium abundant foods: Have collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and other options in your diet, particularly if you are lactose intolerant.
  • Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Add nutritious fruits and vegetables of varied colours to your diet, particularly when in a remission phase.
  • Don’t Miss Probiotics: Probiotics provide healthy bacteria to your gut. You may eat a small bowl of yoghurt daily by consulting your dietician.
  • Have Multivitamins: As Crohn’s disease interferes with your ability to absorb nutrients, your body may be deprived of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin and nutritional supplements can help you beat this and supply your body with all essential vitamins required for the normal functioning of your body.
  • Have a Word with Your Dietician: If you experience weight loss for no good reason when battling Crohn’s disease, you need to have a planned diet. Consulting a certified dietician or nutritionist can help.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers (open sores) and irritation in the large intestine. This condition belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Chronic inflammation prevails only in the innermost layer of the colon’s lining. The inflammation in ulcerative colitis begins in the rectum and spreads to the colon in a continuous form (not patchy). Although there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, you can soothe the symptoms and improve your health with the right diet, nutrition, and lifestyle measures.

Causes of Ulcerative Colitis?

According to medical researchers, the cause of this condition is complex and involves several facts. It is believed to occur due to an overactive immune response. Our immune system functions to safeguard our body from harmful substances and germs. However, at times, our immune system attacks our body mistakenly, thereby causing tissue damage and inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:

Ulcerative Colitis worsens over time. Here’s a quick rundown of the onset symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Anaemia

As the condition progresses, the symptoms turn intense. The more severe symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Pus, blood, and mucous in the bowel
  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Severe cramps in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Painful, swollen, and red eyes
  • Loss of nutrients and fluids
  • Liver disease

Dietary Measures to Manage Ulcerative Colitis:

Ulcerative colitis sufferers may experience issues such as poor nutrition absorption. So, a diet rich in nutrients is advisable for people battling this condition. Consulting a dietician or nutritionist can help you have a diet abundant in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other essential nutrients to improve your health while managing ulcerative colitis. Here are some of the food choices you should make.

  • Low-Fibre Fruits: Fruits low in fibre are recommended to ulcerative colitis sufferers, as they help reduce the frequency and amount of stool that is passed. You experience improved relief from the flare-up of ulcerative colitis. So, include fruits, such as bananas and cantaloupes, in your diet.
  • Probiotic Foods: Foods rich in probiotics provide your digestive tract with good bacteria that promote smooth digestion. Regular consumption of probiotics can help reduce the symptoms and flare-ups of ulcerative colitis.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids abundant foods: Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids when managing ulcerative colitis. These include fatty fish, such as salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
  • Refined Grains: People with ulcerative colitis can find it easier to digest refined grains than whole grains. So, you may include potato, oatmeal, and gluten-free bread in your diet. Consult a dietician for the same. You may find many white bread and grain products having good quantities of vitamins and minerals.
  • Lean Proteins: Although it is advisable to exclude red meat when suffering from ulcerative colitis, you can add fish and eggs to boost your intake of proteins.
  • Cooked Vegetables: Ulcerative colitis sufferers may tolerate non-cruciferous cooked vegetables without the skin. So, you may include cucumber, asparagus, and squash in your diet.
  • Sip Plenty of Fluids: Individuals having ulcerative colitis need to increase their intake of fluids, as diarrhoea can make them suffer from dehydration. So, drink ample water daily. Also, you may have healthy fluids, such as cucumber juice.
  • Have Dietary Supplements: Protein shakes and vitamin supplements can help ulcerative colitis sufferers. However, you need to consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist before starting to take them.

Foods to Avoid When Managing Ulcerative Colitis:

Consumption of certain foods can trigger ulcerative colitis flare-ups. So, you need to ensure that you eliminate foods that trigger this condition from your regular diet. Food triggers may vary from person to person. Some of the common foods that may act as potential triggers of this inflammatory condition include:

  1. Red Meat and Processed Meat: Processed and red meat may worsen the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Patients with ulcerative colitis should avoid the intake of this potentially harmful meat.
  2. Alcohol: Beer, wine, and liquor are some alcoholic drinks that can trigger the discomforts of ulcerative colitis. So, stay away from alcoholic beverages.
  3. Carbonated drinks: Drinking carbonated beverages, such as soda and beer, can irritate your digestive tract and lead to discomfort due to gas. Also, the consumption of carbonated soft drinks increases one’s risk of developing ulcerative colitis.
  4. Lactose Products: Lactose is a sugar in milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Lactose is not problematic to all individuals, however, some people, particularly lactose intolerant, may experience flare-ups of ulcerative colitis on consuming dairy products. So, if you are sensitive to lactose, avoid foods and beverages containing lactose, such as dairy.
  5. Nonabsorbable Sugar: The intake of artificial sweeteners can also trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms. Also, some people find sugars in certain fruits, such as prunes, peaches, and pears, difficult to absorb and experience an aggravation of the symptoms. So, avoid eating foods containing such sugar that can be problematic to your digestive system.
  6. Foods having Insoluble Fibre: Raw green vegetables, whole nuts, whole grains, and fruits with skin have insoluble fibre that may increase your bowel movements’ frequency, abdominal cramping, and gas. So, prefer to have fruits without skin and avoid foods with insoluble fibre.
  7. Sugary Foods: Foods containing a lot of sugar, such as cakes, juices, candies, and pastries can trigger flare-ups of ulcerative colitis.
  8. Spicy Foods: Spicy foods, such as hot peppers, hot sauces, and chillies, can aggravate the symptoms in ulcerative colitis sufferers and lead to a flare-up. So, stay away from spicy foods.
  9. High-Fat Food Options: Butter, greasy foods, fatty meat, and fried foods are high in fats. Ulcerative colitis patients should avoid them to avoid a flare-up or worsening of the symptoms. Also, avoid processed foods as they are also not healthy for managing this condition.
  10. Gluten: The protein present in barley, wheat, and rye is called gluten, which, at times, can trigger symptoms in ulcerative colitis sufferers. A gluten-free diet helps reduce flare-ups and symptoms in IBD sufferers greatly. So, try to avoid eating foods containing gluten, particularly if you are gluten-sensitive.

So, if you or any of your loved ones are battling Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, make your best efforts this Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to spread the message to follow these dietary measures to alleviate the symptoms of these health conditions. Consulting certified healthcare providers and dieticians, such as health experts at Health Total, can help you receive a customised diet plan comprising the right nutritious foods. We also inform you to avoid certain foods to prevent flare-ups and obtain long-lasting relief from these inflammatory conditions. Our diet plan not only soothes your symptoms but also helps eliminate nutritional deficiencies, manage your weight, boost your immunity, and avoid potential health risks. So, think no further, get in touch with us at Health Total, and obtain relief from your discomforts of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with our individualized best diet plan.

Sign up for a FREE consultation with Health Total experts to get more tips on losing weight with diet healthily or managing any other health condition. Call toll-free at  1-800-843-0206 and book an appointment!

December 6, 2022