A chronic or long-term condition, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the digestive system, particularly the small intestine and/or colon. Also an IBD, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the rectum and, sometimes, the colon. A healthy diet is crucial for both Crohn’s disease and colitis for two main reasons: the conditions may diminish important nutrients in the body, and different foods may trigger symptoms.
While diet has not been found to be a cause of Crohn’s disease or colitis, some people do find that different foods aggravate symptoms. Possible problematic foods and drinks include alcohol, milk and other dairy products, fatty foods, spicy foods, and high-fibre foods. Different people react differently to different foods, so the only way to understand your triggers is to keep a food diary and discuss the results with your GP. If you do end up removing foods from your diet, you should discuss supplementation with your GP to make up for any lost vitamins.
An area of supplementation to consider for both Crohn’s disease and colitis is that of prebiotics and probiotics, both of which change the balance of bacteria in the colon or large intestine. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that encourage the growth of the good bacteria in the colon. Probiotics are good bacteria that may be taken as a supplement, increasing the good bacteria in the colon.
As important as what you eat is how you eat. The National Health Service (NHS) recommends six small meals per day, rather than three large ones. The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s disease recommends that you eat slowly, allowing a half hour for each meal.