An inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of factors, such as heredity, a weakened immune system, and environmental problems. This condition gives rise to irritation and inflammation in certain parts of the digestive tract. It also triggers multiple symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. It is often observed that certain foods can trigger the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. That is why following a special diet can help to ease the distress caused by this condition. Moreover, avoiding the consumption of certain foods can help to lower the probability of more flare-ups.
Foods to eat
There is no cure-all diet for Crohn’s disease. However, if certain foods are included in the diet, these can lower the severity of symptoms.
Here are some common foods that can help to alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease:
- Oily fish
Rich in anti-inflammatory properties, oily fish can help to reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Moreover, these are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen the immune system. Fish such as tuna, salmon, and herring are usually recommended to be included in the diet.
It is advised to not go overboard with dairy products and stick to one serving per day. The number of servings depends on the dietary needs of the person. Yogurt, which is loaded with live and active cultures and probiotics, usually helps to ease bowel movement. It also improves gut health. However, those who are lactose intolerant may as well avoid yogurt.
A good way to induce a bowel movement is to eat cereal. Cooked or dry refined cereal is recommended. This can include puffed rice or grits. Keep away from cereals that contain seeds, dried fruits, and nuts.
Eating cheese can be a good way of including calcium in the diet. Swiss or cheddar cheese is a good option. It is advisable to keep away from greasy foods that are loaded with other types of cheese as these can cause flare-ups.
- Low-fiber foods
Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Having said that, removing their skin is not a very good idea as that would strip the vegetables of their fiber. Cooking them, rather than eating them raw, is preferable to avoid flare-ups. Avoid frying or roasting them in oil or butter. The fat in these can worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and irritate the bowel system.
Various types of bread can stimulate bowel movement. Bread that is made from refined and starchy flour is good to keep symptoms of Crohn’s disease at bay. Avoid breads that are made from whole-wheat or whole-grain flour. These are loaded with fiber and can cause flare-ups.
- Lean meat
Foods that are laden with fat often prolong the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. However, certain animal products that contain fat also provide protein and other essential nutrients. Turkey and skinless chicken are good options of lean meat for those with Crohn’s disease. In case one wants to eat red meat, it is recommended that they pick the leanest cut with the excess fat trimmed off.
Foods to avoid
In most cases, it has been observed that certain dietary habits worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Eating these foods can aggravate the situation and cause immense discomfort.
Mentioned below are foods that one should avoid eating if they are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
A person with Crohn’s disease must stay away from whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain, which is very difficult to digest. Similarly, corn on the cob is one of the hardest foods to digest. Eating these foods can be detrimental for those with Crohn’s disease and can worsen the symptoms.
- Cured meat
Protein is an essential nutrient. About 25% of the daily caloric intake should be proteins. However, sausages, bacon, salami, prosciutto, chorizo, and other cured and fatty meat are not recommended for those diagnosed with this condition as these barely have any nutritional value. Additionally, they have a high-fat content that can aggravate the symptoms and cause flare-ups.
Nuts are loaded with essential nutrients. However, people with Crohn’s disease are not able to retain the healthy protein and fat in these nuts. This is especially true when the nuts are eaten raw. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans can irritate the gut if not chewed properly. This can lead to inflammation, thereby making the symptoms worse.
- Fried food
Fish and lean meat such as skinless chicken are healthy for those with this condition. That said, the moment these foods are deep-fried, they lose all their essential nutrients and become unhealthy. The nature of these fried foods makes them extremely difficult to digest, thereby leading to inflammation. This is exactly why it is important to consume meat that is roasted or lightly sautéed in oil.
High fiber foods are not recommended for those with Crohn’s disease. This includes seeds as well. Flax seeds and chia seeds among others are usually known to help ease bowel movements. However, in the case of Crohn’s disease, consuming these can cause flare-ups. It is also recommended to avoid fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, tomatoes, and raspberries that have lots of seeds. In addition to that, it is advisable to avoid the consumption of baked goods that have a lot of seeds as these can irritate the digestive system.