You suffer from Crohn’s, Colitis or IBS but feel like you have a pretty good handle on your symptoms. Of course you have to admit you have the occasional slip ups, but you know yourself well enough to get back on track. Yes, you know that gluten leaves you miserable and switching between constipation and severe diarrhea. But this time… on your vacation to Italy with its glorious pasta and pizza… you couldn’t help yourself.
It’s always important to visit your doctor on a regular basis, particularly when your symptoms get uncontrollable. However, if you know your body and how it responds, you may want to try some natural symptoms to curb your post pizza struggles.
Though there is no cure or quick fix for Crohn’s, natural methods can help ease your pain. While bouncing back from those vacation blues, and following the advice of your physician, become your own detective and experiment with our top 8 Nori recommendations for natural treatment to decrease crohn’s disease symptoms.
Rebound from food blues (pay attention to diet)
After the vacation (or holiday, celebration, or slip-up) the best thing you can do is to stop eating the food that caused you trouble. Say that pizza and pasta was the aching mistake; cut it out. If you experience cravings for the food, ask yourself if the extra slice is really worth another week of diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Typical sensitivities and irritants to beware of include:
- Wheat (gluten) products: pasta, bread, sauces, etc
- Fried foods: french fries, fried chicken, doughnuts, falafel
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese
- Spicy foods
Give good bacteria some fiber-rich food
You can have up to 4.5 pounds of bacteria in your digestive system, with the good ones wanting to create a harmony of health with you. These communities are called your microbiome, a bacterial fingerprint that is unique to you. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, the balance of good to bad bacteria may be off balance. Restoring this homeostasis may help improve your symptoms.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are found in the foods you eat or through supplements. They can help improve digestion and certain strains have shown they help reduce symptoms of Crohn’s. Its best to aim for food sources first, since they contain other nutrients as well and because supplements quality can vary.
Food sources of probiotics include:
- Yogurt (if you have a dairy sensitivity, avoid it)
But just as important as probiotics (the bacteria themselves), prebiotics stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Think of them like fertilizer or food that helps the healthy bacteria grow.
Some prebiotic sources include the following:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
Note: go slow with prebiotics sources, particularly if you are experiencing a flare-up since they contain a lot of fiber which can worsen some symptoms.
Use the anti-inflammation angle
Giving your body more of the anti-inflammatory foods and less of the inflammatory foods will help combat free radical damage and encourage less overall inflammation. Keep in mind that there are certain foods such as nuts and seeds that are helpful for inflammation but not for Crohn’s. Its most important to listen to your body and consult your physician.
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
- Virgin olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, and collards)
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines)
- Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges)
Note: again use caution with raw fruits and vegetables due to their high fiber content. To play it safe, cook them thoroughly.
Foods full of polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3, can promote healing. Results from studies are varied on whether or not omega-3 will help relieve Crohn’s symptoms, but since it has been linked to reducing inflammation, its worth giving them a try. Just make sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nut and seed oils (such as flaxseed, chia seed, and walnut oils)
- Plant oils (such as soybean and canola oil)
- Grass-fed butter
Consider some helpful herbs
The majority of alternative therapies aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Here are some benefits of herbs. Proceed with caution and speak with a physician or nutritionist in order to find a pure and good quality product.
- Aloe vera juice: calming effects may help digestion and improve immunity. Start slow as aloe vera can cause diarrhea.
- Slippery elm bark: protects irritated tissues and promotes healing.
- Turmeric: anti-inflammatory properties. Learn more about how to increase these properties.
- Glutamine: amino acid that helps with intestine function. Best to be taken on an empty stomach.
Test the rest (bowel rest and sleep)
If you’re having a flare-up, its may be helpful to follow a liquid diet in order to give your system time to rest and re-set. With a doctor’s help, you’ll drink fluids that ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need while allowing the inflammation in your gut to calm down. In addition to bowel rest, aim to get extra sleep, go slow, minimize stress and intense exercise, and take naps as needed. Allow your body time to heal.
Time for enzymes
Bromelain is an enzyme that is naturally found in pineapple stems. This along with proteolytic enzymes help break down protein sources such as eggs, meat, and dairy. Lipase helps break down fatty foods such as high fat meats, oils, and avocado. Amylase helps break down carbohydrates. Digestive enzymes also include lactase which helps break down milk sugar. You may consider a digestive enzyme to help support your digestion.
Eat neat (small portions)
Try not to overload your system. If you want to avoid a flare-up or get better faster, avoid large portions. When you eat smaller meals, it puts less stress on your digestion. It can help prevent gas, bloating, and cramping and allow your digestive enzymes to do their job. Aim for smaller, more frequent meals and avoid distractions or stress while eating.
Particularly if you had a bout of diarrhea, you’re at risk for dehydration so it’s very important to drink enough water. Have water be your go-to, then add in electrolyte based fluids such as broth or coconut water.
When you drink, go slow. Taking big gulps can bring air into the digestive system, causing more gas and discomfort. Aim to have liquids in between meals so you don’t get too full when you eat and drink. Steer clear of the carbonated and sweetened beverages like soda. The bubbles and fructose (fruit sugar) can cause gas and bloating.
This article has been written by Lisa Booth, registered dietician and nutritionist, and co-founder of Nori Health. Content is based on her professional knowledge, and our collection of 100+ scientific research study papers.