A balanced diet includes all the vital elements like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in appropriate proportions to fight against diseases, to build new cells and tissues and to carry out the various biological functions of body.
In Crohn’s patients foods promote healing of the diseased and inflamed intestine. We obtain these nutrients through the food we have. To ensure that we have a balanced diet, foods are classified into four groups as follows:
- Meat and other proteins
- Dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables and
- Cereals and grains
How our body takes up the nutrients from foods:
Food is mostly broken down in our stomachs and small intestines. The nutrients are then absorbed through the walls of small intestine. Stool or feces (undigested products) are formed and collected in the large intestine and from here they are slowly eliminated from the body via the anal canal by movement of the bowel. This simple and useful process is somewhat impaired in a Crohn’s patient.
: It is a major problematic Crohn’s disease symptom. In children, who are diagnosed with this disease, show retarded growth and delayed sexual development.
Women and young girls face complications like hormonal imbalance and cessation of menstruation. Adults become easily fatigued, depressed and feel weak. Even medications stop working as well as they do on normal, healthy people.
Nutritional deficiency can be triggered by other Crohn’s disease symptoms like malabsorption, constriction of intestine and fistula formation. In cases when the Crohn’s disease symptom concerning the small intestine becomes complicated and life threatening the Crohn’s patient has to undergo surgery where the damaged part of his or her intestine is removed.
Since intestine absorbs the nutrients into the body so after this type of surgery patient tends to show deficiency in nutrients.
There is no special or scientifically proven diet that is effective enough to prevent or treat Crohn’s disease. Certain foods are known to make the Crohn’s disease symptoms worse or increase risk of developing a flare-up (see my posts: Crohn’s diet: What food to avoid and Crohn’s diet:
Diet alterations to ensure proper nutrient balance ). Moreover each individual Crohn’s patients have been observed to show different reactions with different foods. Crohn’s patient has to follow trial and error procedure to figure out which foods are beneficial for him.
Some beneficial foods items for crohn’s patient:
Salmon and tuna: These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and easy to digest.
Eggs: Scrambled eggs are easy to digest. Eggs are cheap and easily available and have good nutritional value.
Poultry and lean meats: These are protein-rich foods and aids in healing of intestines.
Nuts: Nuts are an excellent source of fats, vitamin E, and protein, but sometimes digesting nuts may be a challenge for Crohn’s patients. So they can have butter nuts that does not aggravate the Crohn’s disease symptoms.
Potatoes, avocados, and bananas: These foods are rich in potassium.
Mango and papaya: These are quite to digest and are rich in nutrients. Papaya contains vitamins C and A, folate and potassium. It is also available throughout the year.
Milkshake and almond milk: Milkshakes are a good source of calcium and contain high calories. Crohn’s patients who are not lactose intolerant can write this down in their Crohn’s diet chart. Alternative food items for lactose intolerant patients include almond milk. It provides vitamins D and E and has no saturated fat and cholesterol.
Apples, oranges and bananas: These are good sources of various vitamins. Moreover bananas are easy to digest.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. Medications and surgery helps to maintain control of Crohn’s disease symptoms and prevent the disease into progressing to complicated symptoms.
After deciding which foods to have without causing any irritation to the digestive tract is it important to consult with a physician or a dietitian to check whether your charted foods are ensuring a balanced intake of nutrients. A dietitian may include probiotics in your diet which will help in digestion.