Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It can affect any area of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum. The inflammation extends deep into the lining of the affected part of the digestive tract and the swelling can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhoea.
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It is believed that Crohn’s disease has a genetic basis since 1 in 3 sufferers have a family history or either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, it is though that onset of the disease is triggered by the presence of bacteria or viruses that provoke an abnormal immune response.
Smoking seems to contribute to the development or exacerbation of the Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms vary depending on the location of the inflammation but may include:
- Spasmodic abdominal pain and tenderness, especially on the lower right hand side.
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy, malaise
- Low grade fever
- Rectal bleeding
- Frothy, foul-smelling stools that float.
- Unexplained arthritis
- Anxiety or depression
Digestive imbalance – There is a myriad of research that shows that different digestive imbalances such as the ability to digest fat and the levels of bacteria and types of bacteria in the gut can all contribute to IBD. In addition your ability to absorb nutrients can have an effect on your immune system which is hugely linked to diseases such as IBD. and many people are now starting to think that Crohn’s disease may develop as a ‘gut’ reaction to imbalances between friendly and detrimental bacteria. Friendly bacteria are very important for ensuring our food is properly digested, that our gut lining is healthy and that pathogens cannot invade. If our numbers of friendly bacteria drop, any of these important roles may be neglected. This makes us more susceptible to leaky gut, inflammatory flare-ups and infection by pathogens that could trigger the disease. Research shows particular types of good bacteria can influence the outcome of the disease in a positive way. Changes in friendly bacteria levels and other important digestive functions can be tested using It is worth having a comprehensive digestive stool test to check how well you are digesting food and absorbing nutrients, the health of the gut wall and the levels of good and bad bacteria that are present. This can be checked with the new GI effects that uses the latest technology to let you know about the state of your digestion. It also uses PCR technology which check the DNA of the good bacteria to see what kind of diversity of bacteria you have. You can buy this test here as well as finding lots more information about it. This particular testis appropriate for those with Crohn’s disease as it also measure inflammatory markers in the gut. Smart Nutrition can then use the results to help optimise your gut flora and minimise inflammation.
Diet – Large meals, fried or fatty foods, spicy dishes and harsh fibres such as wheat and bran, can irritate the lining of the digestive system and exacerbate Crohn’s symptoms. Eating lots of refined foods and foods high in sugar can also make the condition worse because this increases inflammation. To find out more about how changing your diet could help in managing your symptoms, why not Book a Consultation with Smart Nutrition.
Nutrient deficiencies – 80% of Crohn’s patients experience chronic diarrhoea as part of their symptom picture. This means foods it not properly digested or absorbed so nutrient deficiencies can develop. These can lead to a whole list of other health problems and may cause stunted growth in children. A Vitamin and Mineral Screen gives a comprehensive overview of nutrient status and can be used to target individual deficiencies. A nutritional therapist will be able to help you interpret the results as well as providing diet and supplement to help you manage you condition and correct nutrient levels.
Leaky gut – This is also known as intestinal permeability. A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria. When the intestinal lining is compromised larger particles, such as undigested or partially digested foods, bacteria and viruses can enter into the bloodstream. These then react with the immune system and give rise to an inflammatory response. A Leaky Gut Test can confirm whether or not you have a leaky gut.
Food allergies or Intolerance – Immune reactions to food particles may play an important role in the development or severity of Crohn’s disease. Food Intolerances often develop when leaky gut is present because food particles, which would normally remain in the digestive tract, can enter the blood stream and interact with the immune system. Thereafter, whenever you eat the food containing the protein you’re are allergic to, your immune system responds by creating antibodies and other chemicals, including histamine, in an effort to expel the “invader” from your body. When histamine is released in the gastrointestinal tract, it can lead to stomach pains, cramps, diarrhoea and inflammation, triggering a Crohn’s flare up. It is possible to Test for Food Allergies and Intolerances using a simple finger prick blood test.
Chronic stress – Stress can lead to both leaky gut and compromised gut flora both of which can trigger a Crohn’s flare up. If you have a stressful lifestyle and feel this may be a factor in your condition, An Adrenal Stress Test can help pinpoint precise imbalances between the stress hormones and their affect on the the working of the immune system and the gut.
Essential fatty acid imbalances – The chronic diarrhoea that often accompanies Crohn’s can significantly compromised the sufferers ability to absorb fats. The most important of these fats are the essential fatty acids which have many functions in the body including building new cells and mediating inflammatory processes. The inflammation responsible for Crohn’s symptoms may be significantly reduced by ensuring adequate levels of these vital nutrients. A Fatty Acid Test evaluates the level of red cell membrane fatty acids. Once the levels of the various fatty acids are known, a nutritionist can help you re-establish a balance using a combination of diet and supplements
Amino acid deficiency – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Having low levels of amino acids that help control inflammation and support intestinal health may exacerbate Crohn’s symptoms. An Amino Acid Test measures the levels of all the different amino acids, highlighting any deficiencies. These can then be addressed with the help of a nutritional therapist.