Crohn’s disease is an auto immune disease that affects millions of Americans. The gastrointestinal manifestations of Crohn’s disease can vary in severity, from mostly benign discomfort, to an all out “My body really hates me right now.”
The scariest part for me, is that whenever I get a bad enough flare, I also have a form of auto immune arthritis that decides it wants to rear its ugly head. So typically, not only am I experiencing the symptoms of a full-blown Crohn’s flare that has me practically living on the toilet, but then I also will get really bad sciatica and arthritic swelling in my legs. It is a painful combination which can be hard to deal with.
My intent is not to scare you, but rather prepare you and give you some information you will find absolutely vital to living with Crohn’s disease.
Stress can trigger some pretty gnarly Crohn’s flares, most people who have been dealing with the disease for a long time can confirm this. Stress can be your biggest enemy, therefore it would be smart to try to manage your stress as best you can:
- Join a gym! Cardio and Weight training will be your best friends. (I hit the gym 4-5 times a week and have for years, it helped me reduce my flares significantly
- Practice Yoga! A body that is in balance is much harder to run down. Symptoms of Auto-Immune diseases and the stress associated with them, can be measurably combatted by implementing a serious Yoga regimen.
- Tai-Chi! I know this sounds whacky, but have you ever seen a Chinese monk losing his cool, or being stressed out? No, Tai-Chi helps bring inner peace and balance and both are necessary to keep the body functioning properly.
- Take up combat sports! Nothing relieves more stress almost instantaneously than punching someone and getting punched back! LOL No, Seriously. Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Martial Arts. Any one of these sports supports balance and a healthy lifestyle, they also provide much-needed stress relief. Doesn’t hurt that it will also burn belly fat, which will make you healthier and less prone to flare ups overall.
- Medical Marijuana.. yes I went there. Medical Marijuana has so many uses, there is no better stress reliever out there. Best part is that it’s all natural.
The next hurdle you will have to overcome will be diet. The average gastroenterologist does not focus on the nutrition aspect of the disease. They will give you a basic list of what types of foods to avoid but that’s about it. Here are some foods I think you should stay far away from.
- Overly Fatty Foods: Although it is vital to make sure you are having your essential fatty acids, be sure to avoid foods that have really high fat content. The only time I say throw caution to the wind is when you are eating something like avocado. Greasy fatty foods can push your already struggling digestive system and cause you other GI issues, mainly pancreatitis. Pro Tip: George Foreman Grills are still one of the easiest and cheapest ways to drain unwanted fat and grease from your food.
- AVOID CORN! Whole kernel corn will literally make it feel like you swallowed a bag of sharpened pennies. I’ve noticed corn meal does not have the same effect, nor does corn bread or even nachos for that matter, however you might want to avoid popcorn and whole corn, including on the cobb.
- Careful with insoluble fiber, it can also send your gut into hyper mode.
- Stay away from overly spicy foods! I used to love eating spicy food often, it has been a really hard adjustment to make however I have far fewer instances of gastric distress (the Hershey Hurries as I like to call them).
- AVOID CHEAP WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS!! Many people with Crohn’s disease have an issue dealing with lactose! Cheap substandard Whey proteins used in many recovery fitness supplements can really do a number on you as milk proteins and fats your body can’t handle are found in abundance in cheap Whey. My solution is I use VEGA Vegan Protein Powder, I am not vegan however this product gives you the added benefit of boosting protein intake without the nasty side effects and gas of Whey Protein. (Protein supplements are recommended for muscle recovery and muscle growth if you are taking my advice and hitting the gym and working out)
- AVOID MILK, like as much as possible, Lactaid is okay though. I don’t recommend having even Lactaid before bed though.
There are some simple supplements you can take that will add as an aid when taking preventative measures.
- Probiotics!! Cheap, Simple, Effective. Introducing normal and healthy gut flora will help normalize your gut. If there is an abundance of healthy organisms in your gut then there is no room for the bad bugs. Also, studies have shown that it helps regulate intestinal function and it reduces Crohn’s flares. My favorite Probiotic is called PB8 and it has 14 billion live cultures per serving. In all honesty however, the best, most pure, most well researched, and most thoroughly composed is Biome Defense 50 from Infowars Life, if you have the money to spend this is legitimately the most top-notch high-end probiotic you will find anywhere, YOU HAVE TO KEEP IT REFRIGERATED THATS HOW POTENT IT IS.
- Papaya Enzymes! They are great for digestive health, inexpensive, they will help your body process the higher intake of protein you will be consuming. Also really good for helping with pancreatic issues!
- Aloe Vera! Aloe is a natural anti-inflammatory and would be smart to take to help prevent new Crohn’s flare related inflammation in the colon and inflammation in the joints. Would be smart for anyone with auto-immune disease to take this, simple, effective, affordable!
- Resveratrol/Trans-Resveratrol! A potent anti-oxidant that will greatly help your overall health. I highly recommend looking in to anti-oxidants as part of your daily supplement regimen for Cancer prevention. (Colon cancer is common in patients with Crohn’s disease)
These are just a few things I learned through personal experience that I would like to share with as many other people with Crohn’s as possible. I know it can be really hard to deal with the triggers and symptoms of Crohn’s and I want to help you optimize your future health. Stay fit, stay healthy, eat well.