The following basic introduction to managing IBD is brought to you courtesy of Healthline, which just happens to be one of my favorite websites for IBD information. Healthline is a health site that covers a wide range of topics, each with its own individual page. Readers of this blog might be particularly interested in their pages on Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, anxiety, depression, pain relief, and stress management.
Crohn’s is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that typically affects the intestines, in particular the colon and the last section of the small intestine (ileum). However, this autoimmune disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the rectum.
Anyone with Crohn’s disease knows that the symptoms can interfere quite a bit with daily life. Signs and symptoms may include abdominal pain, cramping, inflammation, diarrhea, ulcers, blood in stools, weight loss, reduced appetite, mouth sores, fever, fatigue, eye inflammation, arthritis, skin disorders, and more. To manage this disorder, many people with the disease initiate lifestyle changes and practice effective home remedies.
Studies have found that certain types of foods and beverages can cause the symptoms of Crohn’s disease to flare up or worsen. To find out if there are certain foods or beverages that are aggravating your symptoms, keep a written record of everything you ate before your symptoms became more apparent. Over time, you may begin to notice patterns. Next, eliminate the foods from your diet that you believe are causing your symptoms and note what happens when you keep these foods out of your diet.
There are few types of foods that people with Crohn’s disease commonly report as a problem in aggravating their symptoms. The following information may help you to discover what foods are making your symptoms worse:
- Many people find that dairy products aggravate signs and symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gas.
- For individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, a high-fiber diet may worsen pain and gas. Since it’s important to include fruits and vegetables in your diet, try baking, steaming, or stewing produce instead of eating it raw. Experiment with different types of produce. For example, you may find that cabbage causes you more problems than romaine lettuce.
- Foods that are high in saturated fats aren’t healthy for anyone, whether you have Crohn’s disease or not. For people with Crohn’s disease that affects the small intestine, fatty foods can be especially troublesome. Avoid foods such as fried foods, butter, cream, and so on, and you are likely to reduce your symptoms.
- You may find that eating small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals will tax your body less and help reduce your symptoms. Make sure that the small meals that you eat include ingredients that do not aggravate your symptoms, and that do promote your digestive health.
- Staying hydrated with water will also help in proper digestion and in reducing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Reduce your consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcohol, since these beverages stimulate the intestines, which can make symptoms, such as diarrhea, worse.
Stress and Crohn’s Disease
Stress can cause many physical changes within your body, including the interruption of the normal digestive process. When you are stressed, your body produces more stomach acid and stomach eliminates its contents less efficiently, all of which can exacerbate your symptoms. To reduce stress, try the following:
- Relaxation techniques such as daily meditation, yoga, tai chi, and deep, controlled breathing.
- Exercise can assist in reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, and in restoring normal bowel function. Even mild fitness training, such as a daily 30-minute walk, can be a tremendous stress reducer.
- Reducing caffeine consumption can help people who suffer from chronic stress to reduce their stress levels. As mentioned, reduced caffeine consumption is also beneficial for promoting healthy digestion, which will minimize the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Smoking and Crohn’s Disease
Smokers are far more likely to develop Crohn’s disease. People with Crohn’s disease and who also smoke are much more likely to have more severe symptoms, to experience relapses, and to require repeat surgeries. If you currently smoke, quitting can be one of the bests things that you do for your overall health and for reducing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Since there are often side effects that come with conventional forms of medical treatment for Crohn’s disease, in addition to the fact that these methods are not always effective, many people with the condition seek alternative medical techniques. The use of probiotics, fish oil, herbal supplements, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques may be useful in your quest to alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon and writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.