How to manage Crohn’s disease

Inflammatory bowel condition

“Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

 

 

This month (June 2014) it was reported in the national press that there has been a huge increase in hospital admissions for Crohn’s disease. Some 20,000 young people were admitted to hospital in England last year with Crohn’s disease, a 300% rise over the last 10 years. Doctors say that junk food and too many antibiotics could be a contributing factor in developing this disease.

 

 

 

 

Crohn’s disease is a condition where there is  inflammation and / or ulceration of any part of the digestive tract. The disease can affect the small intestine,- known as small bowel Crohn’s and often characterised by pain and diarrhoea; the ileo-caecal valve, (the junction between small and large intestine)  which is characterised by pain in the lower right abdominal area, or the colon.

The condition affects thousands of people – causing abdominal pain, fatigue and weight-loss.

When left untreated or mis-managed the condition can lead to further complications such as:

  • Joint problems such as arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Gallstones
  • Circulatory disorders and deep vein thrombosis
  • Anaemia
  • Bowel cancer

Crohn’s disease is a lifestyle disease and the risk factors include:

  • Too many antibiotics and vaccinations during childhood
  • A genetic susceptibility
  • An overly reactive immune system
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Smoking

How to manage the condition

The natural health approach to treatment focuses on 4 key areas:

  • Improving gut health
  • Supporting digestion
  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Making good any nutritional deficiencies

And this is achieved through dietary changes and supplementation, removing any foods or substances which are promoting inflammation and damage; and instead including foods and nutrients which actively soothe and heal the damaged gut.

Changes to the diet

An anti-inflammatory diet is required. Remove any antigenic foods such as dairy products or foods containing gluten. Identify and avoid any other possible allergens such as sugar, yeast, spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods. Limit the intake of animal protein, especially red meats.

Do not overdo your fibre intake – take your fruit and vegetables as juices and smoothies. Have lightly cooked (sautéed or steamed), green, coloured and low starch vegetables. Incorporate soft cooked foods such as stewed apple.

Use spices such as turmeric which has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Organic virgin coconut oil is very healing for the gut and Lecithin powder can assist with fat digestion and improving liver health

Eat small, frequent and healthy meals and keep well hydrated

Supplementation

Useful supplements which are frequently required include:

  • Mixed strain Probiotic to help improve the health of the gut bacteria
  • Aloe Vera with its healing and anti-inflammatory properties helps to soothe and mend the gut lining
  • Digestive enzymes (plant based), to help restore the damaged digestion
  • Fish oil or krill oil for the essential fats, omega 3
  • B Vitamins to provide energy
  • Vitamin C (in its more gentle mixed ascorbate form) to help repair the gut tissue and boost the immune response
  • Anti-oxidants – especially the fat soluble anti-oxidants such as vitamins A,D, E and K which due to poor fat digestion will be lacking
  • Magnesium – a key mineral in many body processes and which is very likely to be deficient due to impaired digestion.

For pain relief, do not use medicines such as Ibuprofen which will cause further gut damage but instead use natural pain killers such as Hop Alpha acids which are just as effective but do not cause harm.

Get help

If you have tried to manage your condition without success, or you find it difficult to know what dietary measures to adopt or which supplements might be good for you then get help from an expert in nutrition and natural therapies. As with most chronic health conditions the causes are multi-faceted and unique to the individual so there is not one magic solution, but there will be a solution which is unique to you.

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