Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The disease causes problems when inflammation in some part of the digestive tract (usually the small or large intestine) leads to discomfort, pain, and digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. Although it's a chronic disorder, symptoms tend to flare up sporadically, triggered by stressors on the digestive system ranging from food intolerance to emotional upheaval.
The root cause of Crohn’s disease is not known, but its inflammatory nature suggests it is linked to the immune system. When the body senses it is under attack, the immune system sends antibodies—sickness-fighting white blood cells—to attack and disable whatever threat it perceives. This process causes the area of attack to become inflamed, or swollen, with the sickness-fighting compounds. While inflammation in small amounts protects the body, extended periods of inflammation put the body under unnecessary stress. The intestinal inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease falls under the latter category.
Because Crohn’s affects the digestive system, nutrition is a central concern for those who have the disease. Proper nutrition plays a key role in both reducing the frequency of flare-ups and nourishing the body during flare-ups, when digestion and absorption are compromised.
Because Crohn’s flare-ups are caused by inflammation in the bowels, it is important for those afflicted by the disease to eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, and avoid other foods known to contribute to overall inflammation in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s facilitate the development of chemicals in the body that reduce inflammation. Foods high in Omega-3s include salmon, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and non-GMO organic soybeans.
Flavonoids and Carotenoids: Flavonoids and carotenoids are plant-based nutrients widely recognized for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In a nutshell, these nutrients fight off harmful compounds in your body so the immune system doesn’t have to, and as a result, spare the onset of an inflammatory response. Flavonoid and carotenoid-rich plants are usually dark red, blue, purple, or green in color, and include black cherries, beets, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, red grapes, apples, and dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens. Turmeric, a bright orange root frequently ground into spice powder is also highly anti-inflammatory.
Foods to Avoid
The inflammation process can be invoked by certain foods that contain compounds the body sees as harmful or invasive. Highly processed foods, saturated fats, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars—including high-fructose corn syrup, and alcohol are all known to increase inflammation of the body. While most people should do their best to reduce their intake of these types of foods, those prone to inflammatory issues like Crohn’s disease should do their best to fully eliminate these foods from their diet.
*Fibrous foods and Flare-Ups
While these inflammation-fighting foods contain helpful nutrients, their fibrous texture can be tough on the digestive system, and may even prompt a Crohn’s flare-up. To ingest all of the naturally nourishing nutrients contained in these omega-3, flavonoid, and cartenoiod-rich foods without the unnecessary digestive strain, extract them in the NutriBullet!
Click here for one of our favorite Crohn's fighing recipes.