Crohn’s disease is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory disease of the digestive tract, which can affect any part of it, from the mouth to the anus. The onset of the disease is triggered by an incorrect attack of the immune system on the mucosa, namely on the inner surface of the digestive system. Thus, inflammation is created, which can cause bleeding and ulcers in the walls of the intestine, pain in the abdomen and diarrhea.
Most commonly, inflammation occurs in the end of the small intestine (ileum). However, it is possible to affect any other part of the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, there may be healthy parts of the intestine between the affected parts (partial enteritis).
Crohn’s disease is a multifactorial disease, which owes its name to the American doctor, Burrill Crohn, who in 1932 presented with his colleagues a series of patients with this disease. It is not a contagious disease nor is it a form of cancer. Nevertheless, there is a risk of cancer of the small intestine, colon or anus if the patient is ill for many years.
More than five million people worldwide suffer from Crohn’s disease. This condition is more common in young adults between the ages of 10 and 40, and smokers are at a higher risk of developing the disease than non-smokers.
Clinical features of Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease can manifest with periods of flare-ups and relapses. The symptoms of the disease develop gradually and usually include the following:
- Diarrhea, which may be accompanied by bleeding
- Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, lethargy, fever, anemia
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Anorexia and weight loss
- Fistulas, abscesses, stretch marks and swollen lumps in the anal area
- Bone thinning or even Osteoporosis
- Slow rhythms of physical development in children
- Extrauterine manifestations of the disease (mouth sores, eye and skin irritation, joint and spine pain, liver and bile diseases).
The Role of Nutrition in Crohn’s Disease
Diet is closely linked to both the development and progression of Crohn’s disease. Western lifestyle characterized by increased consumption of fat, sugar and processed foods affects the prevalence of the disease. A balanced diet rich in micronutrients is essential for Crohn’s disease, as this disease can cause anorexia in patients, resulting in minimal food intake, malabsorption of nutrients, loss of protein from the intestine and reduced energy levels.
The adoption of a diet rich in micro and macronutrients, under the guidance of a doctor, is essential for patients with Crohn’s disease. In many cases, your doctor may prescribe special dietary supplements and vitamins. Of course, some foods can worsen the symptoms of the disease, while others can contribute to the remission of the disease.
Foods to Avoid for Crohn’s Disease
Increased intake of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and fats in general may increase the risk of Crohn’s disease. In fact, high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids increases the risk of developing the disease. When intestinal strictures are observed, it is advisable to avoid eating indigestible foods, such as meat, nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits with a lot of fiber and seeds.
Furthermore, it is recommended for Crohn’s patients to limit alcohol consumption, as alcohol is responsible for causing diarrhea and bloating in patients. It is also recommended to avoid eating corn, coffee, tea, spicy, fried and generally fatty foods, such as butter, milk, chocolate and mayonnaise.
Foods Indicated for Crohn’s Disease
Recent data suggest that deficient Vitamin D levels may be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. According to some studies, Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with an exacerbation of the disease. Therefore, foods rich in Vitamin D, such as fatty fish, fish oils, egg, liver and mushrooms, are indicated for Crohn’s disease. Also, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, seafood), zinc (shellfish, chicken) and selenium (sardines, salmon, turkey) can help reduce inflammation.
It has even been found that avocados, potatoes and carrots could be beneficial for Crohn’s disease. As for some special preparations, glutamine is an amino acid characterized by anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant activity in intestinal cells, with concomitant benefits in relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
The Importance of Medical Guidance and Treatment for Crohn’s Disease
Nevertheless, the above nutritional tips are not a rule that we must strictly follow. Each patient needs to follow an individualized diet plan, tailored to their own needs. For this reason, it is very important to adopt a diet rich in all the necessary nutrients, under the supervision of a doctor, who will determine the recommended foods and quantities, depending on the case.
Crohn’s disease also needs thorough medical investigation and immediate treatment because it has a negative impact on patients’ interpersonal relationships and social interactions. More than 6 out of 10 patients, namely about 65% of patients, report that they are overwhelmed by intense stress as a result of the disease, while 4 in 10 describe that the disease adversely affects their work, making it difficult to perform their professional duties.
The Modern Medical Treatment of Crohn’s Disease
The clinical context that includes nutritional factors, lifestyle changes and the simultaneous elimination of the causes that caused this chronic condition is the Modern Medical Reality. Through specialized diagnostic tests, it is possible to detect imbalances and deficiencies that exist in the body and that synergistically lead to the disorganization of the immune system and ultimately to the development of the disease.
Based on the diagnostic findings, personalized treatment protocols are developed, which may include the administration of micro- and macronutrients, restoring the balance of the hormonal system with Natural (Biomimetic) hormones and Molecular (Therapeutic) nutrition. Molecular Nutrition is a special nutritional platform, the success of which lies in the fact that, for every diet plan it proposes, it creates healthy cells, with accompanying results in achieving optimal health of the body.
With these methods, the strengthening of the immune system is achieved, inflammations are reduced, the adequacy of the body in nutrients and vitamins is restored and the homeostasis of the organism is restored at a cellular and hormonal level. That is, the correct cellular function is gradually restored, with individualized therapies, which aim not only at reducing the symptoms, but also at eliminating the etiology of Crohn’s disease, without burdening the patient’s body with chemical residues and excipients.
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