Following a specific crohns diet is one of the best self healing remedies you can implement in your lifestyle. The reason is because without proper nutrition a crohn’s sufferer puts themselves at greater risk of malnutrition. Malnutrition is a problem for many people with crohn’s, as it is estimated that as many as 80 percent of people with the disease experience considerable weight loss.
There are many factors that may cause malnutrition in a crohn’s sufferer. Malnutrition may occur from -
- Excessive diarrhea
- Difficulty eating due to gastrointestinal discomfort, pain, nausea and diarrhea
- Badly damaged bowel
- Bowel shortened by surgery can prevent the absorption and digestion of sufficient nutrients.
- Certain medications may reduce the body’s stores of some vitamins and nutrients.
Thus, it is imperative that adequate nutrition is absorbed through the right crohns diet to prevent malabsorption.
What is malabsorption? Malabsorption is when the body does not effectively absorb nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat, sugar, etc.) from ingested food. In order for the body to absorb the nutrients from food, the pancreas, liver, bile ducts, and the lining of the small intestine need to be functioning properly. It is through the small intestine that nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream. That is why in most cases, the impairment of food digestion primarily occurs in the small intestine.
The symptoms of malabsorption include: diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration, fatigue, bloating, abdominal pain, skin changes, oily stool and undigested food in stool.
Malabsorption can result in malnutrition, if the body does not receive the sufficient amount of nutrients it requires. Malnutrition is a serious condition that can lead to total parenteral nutrition (nutrition provided intravenously) if not taken care of by a crohns diet.
To ensure their diet contains adequate nutrients, a crohn’s suffer needs to make certain that their diet consist of -
- Lots of hydrating fluids (approximately 10 glasses per day), especially water. Certain herbal teas (I.E. mint, ginger, etc.) may also be added. These fluids help to prevent constipation.
- Eat fiber – When you are not suffering symptoms, make sure your crohns diet is rich in insoluble fiber such as bran, apple, raw vegetables, brown rice, wholegrain bread, etc. However, if you are experiencing crohn’s symptoms or you are prone to diarrhea, focus your diet more on soluble fiber such as the flesh of fruit, oatmeal, soda crackers, cooked vegetables, etc.
- Avoid dairy if you are lactose intolerant. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, your body can not properly absorb milk sugar which can lead to symptoms such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.
- Eat a crohns diet rich in protein – Fish, eggs, beans, nuts, lean meats, etc.
- Lower your intake of caffeine, alcohol, fats and sugars (especially sorbitol – a type of sweetener) as these foods are known to trigger diarrhea.
Essentially, the key to avoiding malnutrition is to eliminate foods in your diet that trigger or worsen symptoms (particularly severe diarrhea), and introduce other “safe” foods that contain the nutrients your body needs that it cannot obtain from the foods that have been eliminated from your crohn’s diet.