Can You Cure Crohn’s Disease With Diet?
Anyone who knows me knows my journey to healing with Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease on December 26, 2008 after a cyst on my intestines exploded and nearly ended my life. For several years I accepted and ‘owned’ the diagnosis of having Crohn’s Disease. I endured different surgeries that removed parts of my bowels and small intestines. I actually accepted what traditional doctors told me that Crohn’s Disease could not be healed.
That was until I proved them wrong…
After finally having enough, I got on a plane and went to India. There I learned more about organic foods, Ayurveda and yoga. What I noticed while I was there was that their foods didn’t have all the hormones and chemicals that ours did. I could actually eat, feel energized, and take 10-12 hour train trips without having to run for a bathroom, and I was in no pain!
When I came home, I began changing my diet immediately. I started eating more Greek yogurt and drinking Kefir for the probiotics, and I ate more organic food choices, limiting my meat consumption. Within 3 months of that trip I saw the Gastrointestinologist again. He ran blood tests and had me go through different scans and xrays. When he read the results to me later, he was amazed!
“Your white blood count is above normal, your organs are healthier than I’ve ever seen. From what I’m seeing, you no longer have active Crohn’s! I don’t know how you did it, but keep doing it.”
That was now over 5 years ago. I haven’t had any flare ups or issues since. I haven’t had to deal with anemia, or go through another colonoscopy. I never took any “Crohn’s medications” or any of the other things we tend to endure with Crohn’s disease.
I’m living proof that you can cure Crohn’s Disease with your diet!
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is one of 2 types of inflammatory bowel disease. The other is ulcerative colitis. They both cause an immune reaction against the intestinal tract. When a person has Crohn’s Disease, the small intestine gets enflamed which makes it hard to digest and absorb nutrients from food. Individuals with Crohn’s Disease usually suffer from malnutrition due to difficulty absorbing nutrients along with poor appetite.
Basically, everything we put into our mouths, the body immediately believes it’s under attack and treats everything as if it’s a virus. It immediately tries to eliminate the ‘invader” and remove it from the body. It completely bypasses normal digestion and expels it from the body as fast at possible.
When the small intestine is affected by Crohn’s Disease, diarrhoea and undernourishment occur. The diarrhoea can be severe when the large intestine is also affected. Severe diarrhoea combined with malnutrition causes other conditions such as anemia and low levels of Vitamin B12, folic acid, or iron.
A person with Crohn’s Disease faces unique challenges with regards to eating. Some foods can increase the severity of symptoms.
Anyone suffering from Crohn’s Disease tends to suffer from periods of inflammation which is accompanied by diarrhoea, nausea, and stomach cramping when they eat. They would need to eat differently during periods of flare ups.
Foods to Eat for Crohn’s Disease
A low-residue diet is usually recommended during a Crohn’s flare up. A low-residue diet aims to limit the amount of solid waste in a person’s feces. A low-residue diet helps the bowels to rest as it does not have to work as hard to digest foods.
The following foods should only be consumed during a flare up:
Decaffeinated drinks, low sugar rehydration drinks and water can be consumed during a flare up. Caffeine stimulates the bowels and worsens diarrhoea.
Bread and Starches:
Low-fibre bread and cereals stimulate the bowels the least. Ex: include refined cereals, white rice and bread made with white, refined, or all-purpose flour. Generally, if foods contain more than 2 grams of fibre per serving, then they should be avoided.
Dairy products can worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. For those who are not affected, 2 servings or less of the following would suffice:
- cottage cheese
- yogurt with live active cultures
Butter, gravy, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressing and oils are acceptable in moderation.
Peeled fruits are acceptable. Examples include canned fruits (except for cherries or berries), peeled apples or apple sauce, pulp free fruit juices, ripe bananas and ripe melons.
Many cooked sources of protein are acceptable. However, they should be tender and easy to cut with a fork. Examples include eggs, cooked where the yolk is solid, fish, nut butter that doesn’t contain seeds, poultry, and soy products.
Sweets & Desserts:
Although sweets and desserts can cause flare ups, some sweets are acceptable for those who don’t experience flare ups. Examples include, cakes, cookies, hard candies, ice creams without nuts, jams, and juices.
Asparagus, canned vegetables without seeds, cooked vegetables, eggplant, skinless potatoes, pumpkin, and pulp-free vegetable juice. The vegetables can be peeled to reduce the fibre count.
Foods to Avoid with Crohn’s Disease Flare Ups
During flare ups, high-fibre foods and foods that are known to stimulate the gut, such as spicy food should be avoided. These include:
Alcoholic drinks, caffeinated drinks, and highly sweetened drinks (containing sugar or corn syrup) should be avoided. Overly sweetened drinks can worsen diarrhoea.
Bread and Starches:
Foods such as brown rice, cereals containing nuts, dried fruits or seeds, whole-grain products, whole-wheat pasta, wild rice, and quinoa should be avoided during flare ups.
Foods that may contain added sources of fibre should be avoided. These include cheeses that contain nuts or seeds, and yogurts that contain fruit skins. Other dairy foods can be consumed in moderation as they provide calcium and live active cultures.
Foods that may contain or are natural sources of fibre should be avoided. These include coconut, nuts, and salad dressings with poppy seeds.
Sweets and Desserts:
Foods with sugar alcohols such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol should be avoided. Foods containing bran, coconut cookies or other sweets made with whole-grain flour and jams should also be avoided.
Beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, greens, lima beans, onions, parsnips, peppers, potato skins, spinach and winter squash should all be avoided. Although all of these may not be high in fibre, they’re known to irritate the stomach.
High fat sources of protein can cause gas and irritation of the intestinal lining. Therefore, these foods such as beans, fried eggs, fried meats, nut butter with seeds, high-fat lunch meats, peas, and tough or chewy cuts of meat should be avoided.
Raw fruits and fruit juices with pulp should be avoided. These include dried fruits and prune juice. Banana, melons, and apples with skins removed can be consumed.
These were foods to avoid during flare ups. If you want to cure Crohn’s Disease as I have, I highly suggest changing your diet to more organic (certified organic) foods. Either buy them from whole food stores or grow them yourself so you know what’s in them. Add more Greek yogurt to your diet. Drink more Kefir. I enjoy the strawberry Kefir. If you are a meat eater, get meats from a butcher who can prove that the animals are free of GMO’s, hormones, and were fed naturally (grazers).
By doing this, you will begin to see a real change in your body and health. In no time you too can hear the emotional words from a doctor telling you that you no longer have Active Crohn’s Disease either!