Crohn's Disease

What is Crohn's Disease?

Also called granulomatous colitis, this inflammatory disorder of the intestine causes cramping, diarrhea, and weight loss in people who suffer from it. What causes the inflammation to set in remains a mystery; the body simply "turns" on its own intestinal tissues. Current research suggests that the trigger that sets the immune system off may be a viral or bacterial infection and a case of mistaken identity. Nature designed your immune defense system to recognize its own body's tissues by specific markers on their surfaces (peculiar only to you), and to protect its own from infection or invasion by attacking and destroying anything "foreign"—that is, anything not a part of "you." Sometimes bacteria or viruses have markers very similar to your own. If you happen to become infected with one of these invaders, immune confusion can result, with the defense your immune system sets unintentionally misdirected at your own tissues.
Crohn's Disease This may be what happens in Crohn's disease and the very similar inflammatory bowel disorder ulcerative colitis. Symptoms caused by these two disorders are virtually the same, as are the nutritional therapies that will help you if you suffer from either of them. Let's take a look at what nutrition can offer.

What makes Crohn's Disease worse?

•  Compared to people without inflammatory bowel problems, people with Crohn's disease tend to eat significantly more sugar and refined starches (flour, meal, and food items made with them, such as bread, pastries, pasta, cakes, and pies). Elimination of these kinds of refined products from the diet results in rapid and sustained relief of symptoms. Recommendation: Refer to the basic dietary guidelines under macronutrients, Section we, page 23. Staying within that basic framework, construct a diet specific to your needs by eliminating foods that you feel may worsen your symptoms but containing about 30% of your day's total calories as lean meat, fish, chicken, dairy products, or egg; 40% high-fiber carbohydrates; 20% monosaturated essential fats (olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil); and 10% animal fats. Try to eliminate all sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and high-fructose corn syrup; white flour products; and refined meals. Limit potato, wheat, and corn products.

•  People with Crohn's disease are often histamine-intolerant. Foods that are high in histamine include dairy foods (including cheese), hard sausage, fish, pickled cabbage, and yeast products. Milk and other dairy products also contain carrageenan, which has been shown to induce ulcerative colitis in lab animals. You may want to eliminate these foods from your diet and assess any improvement of symptoms.

• People who suffer from inflammatory bowel disorders have an increased immune response against some foods. Food sensitivities can contribute to abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and further bowel irritation. You may wish to read under Allergies for additional information about how such sensitivities develop. You may also need to enlist the aid of an allergy specialist to help you sort out what foods may cause your problems. Common offenders are milk, wheat, soy, egg protein, nuts, raw fruit, corn, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, shellfish, and pickles. Recommendation: With the help of an allergist, attempt to identify food allergies and sensitivities. On your own, you may undertake an elimination trial, beginning with the common foods listed above, one at a time.

 
 
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