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Taking Control of Your Gut: A Personalized Diet Guide for Crohn’s Disease

Diet & Crohn's Disease

Food is an integral part of our cultural identity and social interaction. From family meals to community gatherings or religious festivals, life is celebrated through food and shared meals. Even alone time, we treat, nourish, and spoil ourselves with food; a quiet coffee, a favorite snack while watching a movie, hot soup on a winter night. 

But for those with Crohn’s disease, the consequences of the slightest mistakes in food choices can be devastating, causing a cascade of inflammatory responses, pain, and discomfort from which it can take months to recover. A personalized diet for Crohn’s may be the key to managing symptoms and healing without isolating ourselves from shared meals.

Diet & Inflammation: How Diet Affects Crohn’s Disease

Not only does the food we eat affect our bio-chemistry, but our diet also impacts the digestive tract itself. The intestinal lining, which consists of a mucous layer, epithelial cells, and tight junctions between the cells, should act as a barrier preventing bacteria from getting in and out of the intestinal tract. In those with Crohn’s, this protective lining has been damaged by a combination of environmental influences, genetic predispositions, and dietary habits, leaving it more vulnerable to bacterial build up causing an acute inflammatory response and the symptoms of Crohn’s. 

According to registered dietician and IBD expert, Rotem Sigal Boneh, “diet plays a crucial role in IBD, from pathogenesis to the management of the disease, especially with regard to Crohn’s Disease. More and more studies support the role of diet in IBD, including epidemiological studies that show the association between these conditions and red meat, animal fat, soft drinks, and processed food in general. In addition, studies with animal models have investigated the role of specific ingredients and the mechanism through which they increase inflammation.” 

Best Diets for Crohn’s Disease

A damaged gut reacts to inflammatory compounds. In those with Crohn’s, this response can be immediate and violent, so it is crucial to remove all known inflammatory foods from the diet. Since our biochemistry is so unique and complex, the best diet for Crohn’s is an individualized diet of non-inflammatory foods and those that support a healthy gut microbiome. 

A complete elimination diet can be a good place to start as it allows us to observe the effects of simple foods as we re-introduce them. This way you can personalize your own diet plan. Once the gut is healed, some of these foods may be tested and then slowly reintroduced. But to heal the gut, we need to rest it completely from irritants, pollutants, and inflammatory foods. 

A 2020 review of the research shows that high carbohydrate intake favors dysbiosis, meaning an imbalance of healthy and pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Low fiber intake has also been associated with increased IBD incidence.

So while avoiding simple carbohydrates, sugars and other inflammatory foods, foods that encourage and repair the gut lining should be consumed if tolerated. These include foods high in both fiber and inulin which are considered the best prebiotic foods. Wherever possible eat organic.   

Foods to avoid: 

  • Gluten
  • Dairy/casein
  • Artificial colors, flavors, additives and preservatives
  • Refined carbohydrates and sugars
  • Seed oils
  • Polysorbate 80, maltodextrin, and carrageenan. 
  • Fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with glyphosate (commercially sold as Roundup), and other toxic anti-pesticides. 

Foods to include:

  • Raspberry 
  • Banana
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin 
  • Cooked carrots 
  • Green beans 
  • Fatty fish 
  • Chia seeds 
  • Flaxseed oil 
  • Applesauce 
  • Steamed or cooked vegetables

Other supporting and healing diets for Crohn’s include The Anti Inflammatory Diet (IBD AID). This diet combines the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and a prebiotic diet to encourage the development of probiotics in the gut. The SCD diet was found beneficial for those suffering from IBD and Crohns. 

Is it possible to heal Crohn’s with diet?

A 2022 trial investigating the therapeutic potential of diet in Crohn’s disease found that specific nutrient-rich formulas called Enteral Nutrition and Exclusion Diets put mild-moderate Crohn’s patients into remission. Essentially, Enteral Nutrient and Exclusion Diets are those that exclude all foods that cause inflammation while providing a rich source of nutrition and giving the digestive tract a much-needed break to recover and repair. 

Rotem Sigal, one of the researchers who led the study, explains that, “Enteral Nutrition treatment includes drinking liquid medical formulas as the sole source of food for a period of 6-12 weeks. The formulas are like a milkshake and there are several options available. This treatment results in 60-85% of remission just by changing the diet! We can see the effect on the mucus layer with significant endoscopic improvement after this treatment as well, together with improvement in growth in children”.  

In fact, dietary intervention has such a strong impact on disease activity that the current ECCO guidelines on pediatric CD recommend EEN as a first-line treatment for mild-moderate children with Crohn’s. 

Evinature’s Tips & Recommendations 

When it comes to diet and Crohn’s, it’s always important to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to ensure your nutritional requirements are being met and that your diet plan is suitable and sustainable for your condition and lifestyle. 

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Evinature

DISCLAIMER

This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. The claims made regarding specific products in this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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