Managing Crohn’s Disease – The Nutritional Way

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Alternative ways of managing Crohn’s involves Nutrition and Yoga. Part 1 of the article deals with Nutrition.

IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) or Crohn’s disease has been on the rise.  This condition is caused by inflammation of the gut. It is auto-immune disorder that does not yet have a cure.  It can only be managed with medication, diet and exercise.  The exact cause of the disease is not known. Researchers believe that Crohn’s is caused by a combination of factors involving genetics, the environment, and an overactive immune system.

As with any inflammation, stress can be an important trigger for the flare up.  There is direct connection between feelings of stress and anxiety and the gut.  The gastro intestinal track is sensitive to emotion.  The expressions “gut wrenching experience”, “butterflies in the stomach”, “stomach tied in knots” are there for a reason. Extreme anxiety (e.g. due to the fear of public speaking) can cause nausea or stomach pain.

Psychological factors impact the actual physiology of the gut. Stress, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions can impact the GI tract, make inflammation and digestive disorders worse – Crohn’s being one of them.

Some of Crohn’s symptoms are severe stomach pains, ulcer in the mouth and gut, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, slow growth in children, etc.  Certain types of highly acidic foods can worsen the inflammation.  As there is no cure for this condition, it is managed through Anti-inflammation drugs, Cortisone or steroids, Antibiotics etc. 

Complementing the treatment with alternative methods that include yoga, meditation and nutrition can help bring it in remission. Nutrition can greatly help manage this condition. Nutrition is the foundation upon which everything is built – including yoga, meditation and exercise routines. Our body is a complex chemical soup.  A holistic diet with all the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and carbohydrates ensures that all the vital systems in the body function at their peak.  Poor nutrition, on the other hand, robs the body of the essential ingredients needed for the proper functioning of the cells that are in charge of the bodily processes.  This weakens the body, and therefore the mind, debilitating their capacity to ward off inflammation related triggers – a major one being stress.

With a condition like Crohn’s, it is doubly important to eat foods that ease the pressure of digestion on the tract.  Although Crohn’s medication suppresses gut inflammation, thus making it easy to digest any food, it does not solve the problem in the long run, because symptoms resurface the moment the medication wears off.  However, a bad diet will tend to weaken the tract over time.  So eating foods that support the digestive tract reduces the outbreak of the inflammation.

Certain foods are not conducive for digestion.  Acidic foods (foods with preservatives, dairy, meats, sugar, tea, coffee, certain types of berries, refined foods like bread, gluten) should be avoided as the high acidic content exacerbates the inflammation, inducing more toxins in the tract.

Alkaline based foods (most fruits and vegetables) with moderate to high PH levels that are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants eliminate toxins in the system ensuring better nutrition absorption. To understand more about natural diets for Crohn’s disease, click here.

Exploring Naturopathy,  Ayurveda, and Homeopathy  for a holistic treatment of Crohn’s can also be beneficial.  All these systems of medicine are non-invasive and use the body’s natural ability to restore itself back to health.  The goal of these alternative systems is to treat the whole person (mind, body, emotions and energy), targeting the root cause, not just the symptoms.

Strong medications can be toxic in the long run.  Life-long conditions that don’t yet have a cure are better managed when complemented with holistic diet, yoga, meditation and non-invasive methods. These alternative systems improve the functioning of the body and mind, purge toxins from the system, and reduce the effects of stress and inflammation related triggers. Adhering to these methods rigorously can restore normalcy and balance in the system giving you much fuller and richer life in the long run.

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