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Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease affecting any area of the gastrointestinal tract. The main symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, nausea and vomiting.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease includes two main conditions. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease affecting any area of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth the anus, but most commonly effects the end of the small bowel (ileum) and the beginning of the colon. There can be areas of no-disease in the gastrointestinal tract, where the inflammation has ‘skipped’ in between patches of disease[1]. The main symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, nausea and vomiting[2].

There are different types of Crohn’s disease which depends on which part of the digestive tract is affected, so it is helpful to identify which type of Crohn’s you have as some of the symptoms can differ.

Similarly to Ulcerative Colitis, risk factors include genetics, gastrointestinal infections and immune issues. People are usually diagnosed when they are young, or between the ages of 20 and 30.

Diet

Firstly, identifying if you have an allergy or intolerance to gluten or dairy will be significant in your protocol.

Having an anti-inflammatory diet full of healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), avocados and nuts and seeds will help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Healthy fats also support the nervous system and can reduce feelings of stress. Stress has been indicated as a trigger for Crohn’s disease.

Additionally, including anti-inflammatory support from nourishing foods in your diet such as turmeric and ginger and reducing inflammatory and gut stimulating foods and drinks such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine will beneficial.

Digestive support through foods such as fibre, probiotics and prebiotics will help to build a healthy terrain in the digestive tract. Examples of probiotic foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. Prebiotic foods are what feed our good gut bacteria, examples are Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks and fibre from foods such as legumes and pulses. Be aware that introducing these digestive foods too quickly in your diet can cause digestive issues, so start slowly and with small portions and build you way up.

Supplements

A high strength probiotic first thing in the morning or last thing at night will help to populate your microbiome with beneficial bacteria. Saccharomyces Boulardii is specific strain that is generally given to patients with diarrhea associated gut issues and is also helpful in modulating the immune system.

A fish oil with good levels of EPA and DHA may be supportive for reducing inflammation[3].

Nutrients which help to strengthen the gut integrity and also modulate the immune system are zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D which should also be considered as part of a nutritional protocol.

Aloe vera juice has strong anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive system, it can also sooth gastric and skin ulcers. Adding in some aloe vera daily may help with reducing symptoms of inflammation in the bowel.

L-glutamine is an amino acid which helps with healing the gut integrity, which is commonly compromised in Crohn’s disease. Supporting gut integrity can be helpful for reducing symptoms and relapses for people with Crohn’s disease.

CBD oil has anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects when taken therapeutically[4] and therefore could potentially help with clients with Crohn’s disease.

B vitamins are often deficient in people with Chrons due to absorption issues and this can further hinder digestive processes. Taking a vitamin B complex will help to restore levels in the blood.

Steroid medications are commonly given to people with autoimmune conditions. Steroids can impact our calcium levels so if you are taking a long course of steroids to manage your symptoms it might be worth supplementing with a good calcium supplement to help with bone health.

Finally, iron is another mineral which can be deficient in people with digestive issues as their ability to absorb nutrients is decreased. Have your iron levels tested before supplementing.

Possible testing options:

Comprehensive stool analysis: there are various testing companies that do stool tests to analysis the gut microbiome, inflammatory markers, biomarkers for leaky gut (intestinal permeability) and digestive enzymes, all which can play a part in the pathogenesis of Crohn’s Disease. Here is a link to information about one of our tests.

Calprotectin: this is a useful marker that is usually monitored by the NHS for people with Crohn's and this is a marker on our complete digestive analysis testing too. Calprotectin is a protein found in white blood cells and is a biomarker to test for inflammation in the digestive system. People with active Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis usually have high calprotectin levels.

Nutritional Therapy

Our Nutritional Therapy team are experts in treating digestive health conditions. Click here for more information.

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Disclaimer

Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.