Dietary tips for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome

Crohn’s disease rears its ugly head with a plethora of nasty symptoms, including crippling stomach pain, lethargy and sickness to name but a few. While many patients are treated with pharmaceutical products, there are many dietary alterations that can be made to help curb symptoms and ultimately put the disease into remission.

As with many inflammatory bowel conditions, there are many dietary dos and don’ts – but not all patients are the same. Unfortunately with IBDs, combating the pain isn’t as straightforward as simply ‘eating well’, as many typically healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can have negative impacts on Crohn’s patients.

In most cases patients can avoid relapse by avoiding skinned and seedy foods, as they are difficult to digest and irritate the gut. Most nuts, fruits, vegetables and corns cannot be chewed enough, and therefore the gut finds it difficult to digest them fully. This pulpy food, combined with an ulcerated lining, leads to irritation, pain and a relapse in symptoms. This does not mean patients cannot eat fruits and vegetables (they are still part of a healthy diet), but it is better to peel the skin from apples, cucumbers and pears before eating to avoid irritation. Patients can also get protein by substituting nuts for nut milks (i.e. almond milk) and easily digestible foods.

Like with most health advice, fried foods and alcohol should be avoided and, although it sounds cliched, replaced with vegetables. While some vegetables can cause irritation to Crohn’s sufferers in their natural form, pureed vegetables or vegetable soups are key in replacing the vitamins that IBD patients lose through their damaged intestinal lining.

Patients also note that spicy foods and alcohol also cause flare-ups. Spices used in most curries irritate the stomach lining and aggravate ulcers. Milder dishes are best suited to Crohn’s sufferers and avoiding alcohol altogether makes for a more cleaner digestive system.

Ultimately each patient is different in what they can tolerate and how they manage pain, but in most cases simple dietary adjustments are the way to living a healthy, pain-free life with Crohn’s.

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