How Foods and Fats Can Impact Crohn's Disease
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle—eating high-quality food, getting adequate exercise and keeping poor habits in check—has benefits for everyone. This is especially important for anyone diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or any other form of inflammatory bowel disease.
Crohn’s, unlike ulcerative colitis, can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, but is most commonly found at the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the large intestine (or colon). It can also affect the eyes, skin, and joints. Foods can have an overwhelming impact on Crohn’s disease, whether positive or negative.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected gastrointestinal tissue. Crohn’s can be painful, debilitating and, at times, even life threatening.
Certain foods can trigger the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Ulcers in the gut
- Mouth ulcers
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Rectal bleeding and anal fissures
- Uveitis (eye inflammation)
- Skin rashes and inflammation
- Liver or bile duct inflammation
Although the exact causes of Crohn’s are unknown, researchers believe it is caused by a combination of factors involving genetics, the environment and a malfunctioning immune system. It is definitely not caused by something you ate.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease may involve medication, surgery, and nutritional therapies, depending on each case. There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, but many treatments are focused on lengthening remission periods for those diagnosed with this form of inflammatory bowel disease.
Living healthily: Nutrition and diet choices
Diet is not the cause of Crohn’s disease, but certain foods can trigger flare-ups or increase the severity of symptoms. Those triggers vastly vary from person to person and no one specific food or beverage aggravates the symptoms for all those diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Although there is no magical diet that will work for everyone suffering from Crohn’s disease, a healthy diet, consisting of well-rounded food choices, can help you manage your symptoms and increase remission time.
A healthy diet is more about what you keep in your meal plan, rather than what you exclude. If you cut out certain foods in your life with no real impact on your symptoms, you can slowly reintroduce them back into your routine. Poor absorption in your intestines and loss of appetite frequently linked to Crohn’s disease may deprive your body of essential nutrients—so you must be mindful of eating a nutritious diet.
To pinpoint which foods tend to provoke symptoms and induce flare-ups, many doctors recommend keeping a food journal. By journaling your foods and your body’s reactions, you can better see how your diet relates to your symptoms.
Crohn's disease is not the same for each person who has it, and that means food triggers won't be the same, either. Read on for some tips and to learn about the role that fats play in Crohn's disease management.