Crohn’s disease is characterized by chronic inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract. Predominantly hereditary, immune system and the environment also affect the development of Crohn’s.
Immune System Plays a Role in Crohn’s Disease
The root cause for the inflammation is still not clear and the disease usually affects the lower part of the small intestine. But there are chances that the disease can manifest anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
The immune system plays a role in this condition. Immune cells stockpile in the intestine and attack bacteria, food, healthy body tissue and other harmless or even beneficial substances. Common symptoms include rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and fatigue. The accumulated immune cells are responsible for the symptoms of Crohn’s as they promote inflammation and damage intestinal walls.
Do Food Changes Affect Crohn’s?
Foods neither cause nor cure Crohn’s disease. But they can cause flare-ups in the symptoms. It is better to avoid foods such as dairy, high fiber grains, alcohol and hot spices as these enhance the already existing symptoms. But, there is no hardcore research proving a list of specific foods that universally affect everyone. Despite all this, it is better to maintain a food journal recording all the foods that you eat, avoiding foods that cause symptoms and meeting a registered dietitian nutritionist experienced in digestive health to ease you pain and control the disease.
Steroids Can Cause Deficiencies
Inflammation can affect nutrient absorption leading to certain deficiencies. People with Crohn’s need to take extra caution to make their diet nutrient-rich with adequate calories, protein and healthy fats. Medications include steroids that increase the risk of osteoporosis which should be compensated with sufficient vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K for bone health. But, long-term use of such steroids can cause vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, zinc and selenium deficiencies.
Try New Foods When Symptoms are Missing
People with Crohn’s disease can contact a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to develop a personalized eating plan meeting their requirements. Some common guidelines include:
You can comfortably take foods with added prebiotics and probiotics as well as dietary supplements such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, folate, zinc and vitamin B12 to prevent or treat deficiencies.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.