Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can be complicated by certain foods, but there is a Crohn’s diet that can help sufferers prevent flare-ups.
The disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract, triggering various uncomfortable symptoms including diarrhea. In some cases, this inflammatory bowel disease can lead to malnutrition.
Research tells us that dietary habits can make symptoms of Crohn’s worse. There is no cure-all diet for people who have this condition, but many find that if they include certain foods in their diet, they can lessen the chances of experiencing severe symptoms.
Foods That Lower Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
When we talk about Crohn’s disease diet, it is important to consider that it can be variable, which really means that what works for one person in terms of avoiding a specific food might not work for someone else. Still, we have discovered that there are some common food items that spell trouble for a lot of Crohn’s sufferers. There are also foods that tend to help people who have Crohn’s. We’ll begin with Crohn’s disease foods to eat.
Here are some foods that many people with Crohn’s say they “benefit” from eating:
- Yogurt – The probiotics in live-culture yogurt can help in the recovery of the intestine, making it a good food to consider if you have Crohn’s disease. There is one cautionary note though. Some people do find that they have a hard time digesting dairy proteins, which can make the symptom of diarrhea worse.
- Oily fish – Certain types of oily fish, such as salmon, herring, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory abilities that may reduce symptoms.
- Fruits and veggies – Fruits and vegetables seem to help people with Crohn’s; however, some find that raw fruits cause flare-ups, so applesauce or bananas are a good option. Pulp-free fruit juices also seem to be okay.
- Cooked carrots – Many people with Crohn’s report that carrots fill them with nutrients without aggravating symptoms. There have also been some suggestions that the antioxidants in carrots may help with symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
- Cheese – Some people find that cheese is a good way to get calcium without consuming milk. Greasy foods containing cheese should be avoided but certain cheeses like Swiss and cheddar on their own are good choices.
- Cereals – There are cereals that are low in fiber and can be very nutritious and help Crohn’s sufferers avoid flare-ups.
- Liquid meals – Drinks such as Ensure can help with Crohn’s symptoms. They come in a variety of flavors and are packed with nutrients. Be mindful that these types of drinks do contain dairy.
- Potatoes – While potato skins can increase inflammation, the insides of the potato could be a good food to have during a Crohn’s flare-up. They have potassium and can help your body maintain a proper balance of fluids.
- Low-fiber foods – Low-fiber and soluble fiber foods are easier on the digestive system. White rice and white pasta are examples of low-fiber foods, while sweet potatoes and pears are soluble fiber examples.
- Fats – It is okay to include some fats with moderation if you suffer from Crohn’s. Mayonnaise, salad dressings, butter, and oil fall into this category.
- Proteins – If the protein is cooked properly, is tender, and easy to cut, it should be okay. Cooked eggs with a solid yolk, poultry, and soy products can be helpful.
Foods to Avoid for Crohn’s Disease
When you suffer from Crohn’s disease, there are foods you will want to avoid during a flare-up. Most doctors will tell their patients to eliminate spicy foods and foods that are high-fiber.
The following list covers some of the Crohn’s disease foods to avoid:
- Beverages – If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, there are some beverages that may not help your condition. Alcoholic drinks, caffeinated drinks, and highly sweetened drinks with sugar or corn syrup can be bothersome, especially during a flare-up.
- Bread/Starches – Whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa should be avoided.
- Dairy products – Any dairy products that have added fiber can aggravate symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Some cheeses, nuts, and certain yogurts that contain fruit skins are examples.
- Fats – There are some fats that contain fiber or are naturally high in fiber and should be eliminated during a flare-up. These fats include coconut and salad dressings with poppy seeds.
- Fruits – Raw fruits, as well as fruit juices with pulp, can aggravate Crohn’s symptoms. Dried fruit and prune juice should also be avoided since they can make diarrhea even worse.
- Proteins – Fried eggs, fried meat, lunchmeats, nut butter, peas, beans, and any cuts of meat that are tough or chewy.
- Vegetables – The following vegetables should be avoided during a flare-up: beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, greens, lima beans, peppers, parsnips, spinach, winter squash, and onions.
- Spices – Some people find any spice will irritate them during a flare-up but mild herbs and small amounts of citrus juices, such as lemon and lime can provide flavor to dishes in place of the spice.
- Desserts – Certain desserts can make a flare-up worse, including bran muffins, whole grain cookies, cakes with dried fruit in it, raisins, and jams.
- Foods with gluten – There are many people who suffer from Crohn’s disease who also have celiac disease. These individuals should be avoiding any foods that contain gluten, not only during a flare-up but all the time.
- Popcorn – This popular snack food is actually a whole grain, which can be hard for the body to break down, especially if you suffer from Crohn’s.
- Cereals – Some studies suggest that rice cereals and porridge are not linked to Crohn’,s but that wheat cereals are associated with Crohn’s symptoms.
Interestingly, a study conducted in England several years ago suggested that there might be a connection between Crohn’s and corn flakes. During an experiment with just under 70 individuals, a strong link to Crohn’s disease was found with the consuming of this cereal.
At the time, they broke down the data and estimated that Crohn’s disease would likely be found in one in 1,200 who consume cornflakes regularly. They also said that variable secretory behavior upon waking up in the morning might also play a role in who is more prone to the disease.
The real point is that while food has been shown to influence inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s, there could be other factors at play, which makes each individual situation unique. For instance, we have indicated that spicy foods should be avoided if you have Crohn’s, but there might be some sufferers that can tolerate a certain amount of spice or some individuals that can consume corn flakes or whole wheat without experiencing flare-ups.
With Crohn’s, it can take time to determine just what you can and can’t tolerate but the lists we have provided can be a helpful guide.
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