Crohn's Disease and Diet Patterns: Will Anything Help?

By: Diet vs Disease - Joe Leech

- There's a lot of misinformation online about treating Crohn's disease. Unlike the low FODMAP diet for IBS, there is no real cure for Crohn's disease. However, studies show that there are some diet changes that can really help with treatment and preventing recurrence, and that's what I'm looking at in this video. (bell rings) Just to quickly cover the basics, Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disorder of the gut. Alongside Ulcerative Colitis, it's classified as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD. Together, IBD affects over 1.4 million people in the US and 2.2 million in Europe.

It's characterised by inflamed sections of the intestine. However, it can affect all parts of the gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to anus. It's thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. Some researchers believe the typical western diet is the reason rates of Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal problems is on the rise. However, that's certainly not proven. But what is clear is that diet plays a critical role in managing symptoms as well as preventing recurrence. This means appropriate modifications to your diet are the closest thing you can get to a cure. Eating patterns that restrict or eliminate certain food groups have emerged as popular diets for Crohn's, so things like low FODMAPS, SCD, GAPS, and even paleo.

However, there is not much evidence to support the concept of most of these. The most well-researched and promising is actually the low FODMAP diet, which is a temporary eating pattern proven to treat irritable bowel syndrome. FODMAPS are short-chain carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems in certain people. It's thought that cutting FODMAPS may also inadvertently remove problem foods for Crohn's disease patients, improving overall symptoms and reducing risk of flare-ups. In a study of 72 IBD patients given low FODMAP diet education, 52 of which had Crohn's, those who managed to follow it for three months, which was 70% of patients, reported improvements in symptoms of pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, there was no biochemical markers measured and no way to accurately monitor eating habits during that time, so we can't draw any firm conclusions from this type of study, but it's promising.

This suggests a low FODMAP diet can be beneficial initially if you can stick to it, but we're not sure about the long run. Long-term restriction of FODMAPS is not good for your gut bacteria and can cause future problems down the road. But considering that most IBD patients can recognize which foods give them problems, I can definitely see the potential in a low FODMAP diet in the beginning. Just know that it's not easy to do on your own, so you should try to team up with a IBD specialist, dietitian, or doctor.

Crohn's Disease and Diet Patterns: Will Anything Help?

One other eating pattern worth mentioning is to do with meat and added fats, because there's a lot of information online that says that eating meat is bad for Crohn's. But research on the role of animal foods is a mixed bag. Observational studies tend to find a link between high consumption of animal foods and increased risk of Crohn's disease, but not always. High fish consumption has also been linked to worse outcomes, yet other studies show high omega-3 intakes to be beneficial. All the main types of fat, saturated, poly, unsaturated, and mono unsaturated, have also been linked to an increased risk, but not consistently, and mainly for Ulcerative Colitis.

So given the quality of the observational evidence so far, it remains unclear what role animal foods and fatty acids play. So in summary, a low FODMAP diet is a great place to start if you have symptoms. This can help you identify any potential food intolerances that you have, which do have overlapping symptoms with Crohn's disease. Just remember that a low FODMAP diet should be temporary and it should be done under the supervision of a dietitian. And with animal food intake, we really don't know much at this stage to give solid conclusions. You could definitely limit intake if you want, but just be weary of your iron levels, which are an at-risk nutrient for someone with Crohn's disease. Thanks for watching. If you found this video useful, please give it a thumbs up, and you can also leave a comment or ask a question.

And if you haven't already, you can click the big red button below this video to subscribe to the DietvsDisease YouTube channel so you don't miss out on other videos like this one. (upbeat music).

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