Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes irritation or swelling in the digestive tract. Affecting over half a million Americans, Crohn’s disease can trigger diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and cramps. Depending on the person and the severity of the condition, inflammation can occur in different areas of the digestive tract. If left unchecked, inflammation can spread to deeper layers of the bowel tissues.
If you have Crohn’s disease, you know that flare-ups can feel incapacitating. Not only do flare-ups interrupt your life, but they can also make you feel miserable. Furthermore, it’s possible to worsen flare-ups by choosing the wrong foods. Although there isn’t a specific Crohn’s diet, there are foods that patients should avoid. Some foods may trigger flare-ups or give the gut general discomfort.
According to dietitians and health experts, the following foods are thought to trigger Crohn’s flare-ups. This isn’t to say that these foods trigger reactions in every person with the condition. Some people may have to keep a food journal or experiment to see which foods make the gut happy. Generally speaking, though, the following foods can trigger Crohn’s flare-ups.
This classic movie snack is often doused in butter, and it happens to be rich in fiber. Unfortunately, both fiber and fat (butter) are common Crohn’s triggers. More often than not, people with Crohn’s are better off consuming low-fat diets that don’t include a lot of fibrous foods. It’s possible that some people can enjoy a small amount of popcorn with no butter during remissions, but most claim that popcorn worsens existing symptoms.
Fruit skin can irritate the gut, regardless of whether a person has Crohn’s or not. Some people with sensitive digestive systems can benefit from peeling all their fruit. The skin can irritate the gut’s lining, which causes a flare-up.
Every person should know how to identify sweeteners on ingredient labels. It’s very easy for people to overlook them because they aren’t aware of the names. Maltitol, xylitol, and sorbitol are all added sweeteners that are poorly absorbed by the body. This can cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea. That’s why it’s best for Crohn’s patients to avoid fruit juices, sodas, or any gums and candies that contain “sugar alcohols.”
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. That’s exactly why both of them are not recommended for people with Crohn’s disease. Many people with Crohn’s cannot properly digest them, which causes irritation to the lining in the gut. Some people, however, can tolerate ground nuts and seeds. If you have Crohn’s and are willing to experiment, start out with smooth almond butter or tahini.
There are many people with Crohn’s that have no problem consuming dairy products. If the person experiences symptoms that may indicate a flare-up, though, it’s best to steer clear of dairy. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. It commonly causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, and that’s not specific to Crohn’s patients. Try lactose-free alternatives or simply avoid whole milk, sour cream, ice cream, and other similar dairy products when a flare-up occurs.
This doesn’t necessarily fall under the “food” umbrella, but the smoke, nicotine, and chemicals still enter the body. A review of 33 studies found that the severity of Crohn’s disease decreased after people stoped smoking cigarettes. Smoking constricts blood vessels, which causes inadequate oxygen flow and nutrition to the intestines. Health experts theorize that this increases biochemical mediators of inflammation, causing harm to the digestive system.
Not everyone with Crohn’s disease experiences the same reactions to common food triggers. If you live with Crohn’s, you may have to go through a trial and error stage of testing foods to see how you react to them. Keep a food journal and jot down what you experience after eating certain foods. You can click here if you want to learn more about foods that are beneficial for Crohn’s patients.