Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Look at foods and Crohn's

For a person with Crohn’s disease, eating a healthy diet isn’t as simple as it may seem. If you’re experiencing chronic diarrhea, you may have nutritional deficiencies to overcome, and this is especially true for children with Crohn’s disease that affects the small bowel. On top of this, certain foods — even foods that are considered nutritious, such as raw fruits and vegetables — can trigger a Crohn’s flare or worsen symptoms. “

Beware the Dangers of Dairy

If you have Crohn’s disease, it’s not uncommon to also be lactose intolerant. That means you don’t adequately digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, and as a result you may experience cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and gas, says Gina Jarman Hill, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “Dairy products are a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein, so if you completely avoid these foods, you must obtain these nutrients elsewhere," she says. To minimize Crohn’s symptoms while staying healthy, try getting these nutrients from green leafy vegetables, fortified juices and cereals, or supplements.

Skip on the Spicy Foods

When your Crohn's symptoms are in overdrive, spicy foods may result in even more pain for you, says Hill. “However, this is different from one person to the next," she adds, "so it is important to identify those foods that are or are not tolerated.” If you find certain spices irritating during a Crohn’s flare, mild herbs and small amounts of citrus juices for seasoning can provide flavor in their place — it makes sense to always have them handy for jazzing up your diet.

Use Caution With Fried or Greasy Foods

For people with Crohn’s disease, the fat in foods like fried chicken, french fries, heavy sauces, and creams is often not fully absorbed in the small intestine. This in turn leads to Crohn’s symptoms like cramping or loose stools. Rather than fried and greasy foods, choose foods that are baked, broiled, or steamed for yourdiet for Crohn’s, says Hill. “However, fat should only be restricted if you’re experiencing fatty stools.”

Steer Clear of High-Fiber Foods

Though most people should be getting plenty of fiber from sources such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, the opposite is true for many individuals with Crohn’s disease. When Crohn’s symptoms are at their worst, make refined breads and pastas part of your modified diet. “They are normally better tolerated than their higher-fibercounterparts,” Hill explains.

Look Out for Foods With Gluten

Hill notes that refined wheat products are usually a better choice than whole grain options for people with active Crohn’s flares, but this alternative won’t help if you can’t digest the gluten found in wheat products. “Some people with Crohn's disease may be gluten intolerant,” she says. If that’s the case, avoid all products that contain gluten in your diet.

Go Easy on Caffeine

If one of your Crohn’s symptoms isdiarrhea, stay away from beverages that contain caffeine. “Caffeine stimulates the intestines, resulting in worsening diarrhea,” says Hill. To get needed fluids — which is even more important when you’re experiencing diarrhea — drink water, sports drinks, and fruit juice (diluted with water if 100-percent juices bother you). “Take care to sip rather than gulp these liquids in order not to swallow extra air, as that will result in further gas,” she adds.

Abstain From Alcohol

As with caffeinated beverages, drinks that contain alcohol may also exacerbate the Crohn’s symptom of diarrhea. They can dry you out and prevent proper rehydration. It’s also possible that alcoholic drinks could negatively interact with Crohn’s medications, says James Church, MD, a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. Taking alcohol out of your diet for Crohn’s may be the best thing to do.

Say 'No' to Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables in their pure, raw form are loaded with fiber and notable for causing gas. You may need to eliminate them from your diet, especially during a Crohn’s flare. “High-fiber foods are not completely digested in the small intestine and therefore may further exacerbate diarrhea during times of increased Crohn’s symptoms,” says Hill. Switch to cooked vegetables and fruits without the skins. But, she warns, you may need to pass completely on broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and beans. Again, afood diary will help you identify your particular triggers.