This question was asked by one of my frequent blogger readers and after doing some research on this topic, I will give you a brief and scientific diet advice for the management of this condition.
Crohn’s disease is one type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It’s a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed.
The main symptoms are:
A poor diet can be a risk factor of IBD
A diet with increased intake of sugar, lack of fruit and vegetables, a low intake of dietary fibre, use of red meat and alcohol and inadequate ratio intake of omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids can increase the risk factor for IBD.
Reintroduction of foods
You will need support from a dietitian during the stage of reintroduction of foods. Dietitians might advise you which diet to follow in specific. For people with Crohn’s disease, LOFFLEX DIET has proven to improve symptoms. This diet is usually used after a liquid diet, during the reintroduction stage. This method can help reducing the symptoms by excluding high fat and high fibre foods as well as other foods which may affect the symptom that can trigger the symptoms. On this diet a list of 25 specific foods is given and each food is tested for 4 days. The patients are advised to keep a food diary where they write which foods and drinks they consumed and describe how they are feeling. This will help to identify if there are any foods that trigger your symptoms.
Which foods to avoid?
High fibre foods: wholegrains, skins and pips in fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds and foods that are difficult to breakdown mechanically e.g. gristle, skin on meat or fish.
High fat foods: fried food (fried fish, chips, crisps), larder, butter, oils, cheese.
What's recommended and what to consider?
Individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease might suffer from malnutrition due to frequent diarrhoeas, blood loses in the faeces, stomach cramps and rejection of food. To complement the diet, supplements are often recommended, especially vitamins B6, B12. If diarrhoea is present, zinc, potassium and selenium might be needed.
MCT oil (for example coconut oil) may be useful to add calories and fat soluble-nutrients.
Nutrition formulas with omega-3 fatty acids, glutamine, antioxidants and prebiotics or probiotics are therapeutic strategies.
Probiotics help to modify the microbial flora and can decrease inflammatory response. There are many probiotics in the market, it’s important to ask for advice in which and how much to take from a health professional.
Food intolerance are common in patients with IBD, but the foods are variable among individuals. It’s advised to eliminate the foods that each individual suspect are responsible for the intolerance.
Protein requirements might be increased. Include high protein content foods in the diet, like plain chicken, salmon, eggs might be beneficial.
Lactose intolerance can occur and lactose intake may need to be limited but rarely needs to be excluded altogether. Consider calcium intake if dairy foods are limited.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a general list of foods that I can prescribe on this blog, because each individual might experience different symptoms and food intolerance.
Nutritional treatment and diet advice for patients with Crohn’s disease is very specific and depends of each individual. It’s extremely advised that you consult a dietitian for get the right information and adequate treatment.
Author: Joana Jardim, Registered Dietitian, MSc, Founder of Your Diet Advice
Hi, I'm Joana, a Portuguese registered dietitian in the UK. I am passionate about helping others achieving their health goals.