Crohn's Disease Dietary Therapy
Crohn’s Disease (CD) is a disorder of the small intestine and often the right side of the colon or large bowel. It is an inflammatory disorder in that the bacteria that normally reside within the gut are able to invade the bowel wall and cause the disease. In the past we physicians did not think there was anything specific about the diet that needed to be avoided. We prescribed a good nutritious diet with enough protein, calories and vitamins and that was about it. However, there has been an explosion of information and research not just about the very cause of Crohn’s Disease but also about the diet itself and how the foods we eat could favorably and unfavorably influence the disorder.
The Lower Gut and the Importance of Insoluble Fiber
Up until the past 15 years, the importance of the lower gut has been downplayed in medical literature and in education in general. Training physicians relegated the gut to a minor health role and largely ignored the pounds of bacteria living in and on the human body. Only recently has medical science began carefully examining these bacteria, the roles they play in overall health and wellness, and how a nutritious diet comprised of fiber-rich foods can positively affect Crohn’s disease and other conditions.
It turns out that the microbiota in the lower gut play an enormous role in health. People with a healthy bacterial mix tend to weigh less, demonstrate better immunity to disease, absorb vitamins and minerals easier (resulting in stronger bones), feel less stress and more. Although a healthy body can result from good genes to some extent — as demonstrated below — you can positively affect your overall health and the symptoms of Crohn’s by manipulating your lower gut’s microbiota yourself. You can do this by modifying your food intake to a diet designed for Crohn’s disease.
The effective Crohn’s disease diet contains a diet rich in the insoluble fibers found in foods such as chicory root, bananas, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, whole grains and more. For optimal health, eating between 25 and 35 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber every day is recommended; unfortunately, most people simply do not eat enough fiber to make a difference in their overall wellness. Why is fiber important? Fiber fertilizes the lower gut’s healthy bacteria, reduces the permeability of the bowel wall and can help with the uncomfortable symptoms of Crohn’s disease, among other things.
Supplementing the Ideal Crohn’s Diet
Getting enough fiber to satisfy your diet for Crohn’s doesn’t have to mean eating garlic and bananas on whole wheat bread several times per day. These foods contain the plant fibers inulin and oligofructose, which are prebiotics that have been proven to fertilize healthy lower gut bacteria. Although these fibers won’t fix Crohn’s disease completely, they can improve the strength of your bowel wall and fight the other factors that worsen disease symptoms. Adding a prebiotic fiber supplement to your diet that contains both inulin and oligofructose is an easy way to favorably adjust this bacterial mix and boost your overall wellness.
Treating CD With a Specialized Crohn’s Diet
The dietary treatment of CD, based on known recent and startling science and research, is now one of the most exciting new discoveries in gastroenterology. It promises to have enormous benefits to almost everyone with this disorder. Although diet modification is an exciting new frontier in the treatment of this condition, before embarking further into the diet, it is useful to know briefly about 3 important areas. Here are 3 new proven key facts about Crohn’s Disease.