Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that responds very well to nutritional therapy. A few factors should be considered. Sensitivity to certain foods, most commonly gluten (the protein found in wheat, oats, rye and barley) and milk can aggravate Crohn’s, so avoiding them can help. The amount of good bacteria in the gut is likely to be low, so restore the balance with a probiotic supplement such as acidophilus. Taking some Omega 3-rich fish or flax oil, which contain Omega 3 fats, helps calm the inflammation. Certain herbs such as slippery elm or marshmallow are very soothing to the gut lining, while others such as boswellia and curcumin can reduce inflammation. The amino acid glutamine, 5 to 10 grams taken as a powder in water last thing at night, also helps to repair the gut.
Most people with Crohn’s are allergic to certain foods, most commonly gluten, and also have raised homocysteine levels. It is well worth working with a nutritional therapist, who can test for these factors and help you find your perfect diet and supplement programme.
You can’t avoid fibre completely and wouldn’t want to. Fibre is a natural constituent of a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables, lentils, beans and wholegrains and by eating such a diet you have less risk of bowel cancer, diabetes or diverticular disease, and are unlikely to suffer from constipation. However, be really careful with insoluble fibre found in bran and wholegrains. It’s harsh on the bowel and doesn’t suit a sensitive or inflamed digestive system. There are, however, many different kinds of fibre. Soluble fibres, found in oats, lentils, beans, fruit, vegetables and flax seeds or linseeds (which you should continue to eat plenty of) are a whole other story. Soluble fibre-rich foods contain many other nutrients as well, so are an important part of any healthy diet, including the diets of Crohn’s sufferers.
Avoid coffee, alcohol and sugar, drink 1.5 litres of water daily and eat fresh wholefoods that are naturally high in soluble fibre, such as lentils, beans, ground seeds, fruit and lightly cooked vegetables. Have ground flax seeds or soaked flax seeds.
• 2 x Multivitamin and mineral
• 1 x Vitamin C 1,000mg (less if irritating)
• 3 x Omega 3-rich fish oils (providing EPA 1200mg)
• L-glutamine powder, 5g, twice a day