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Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis


The incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is increasing worldwide. Worldwide, about ten million people suffer from IBD. Two of the most common types of IBDs are: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They usually manifest in adolescence or early adulthood. Neither disease is curable, there may be mixed forms of both diseases, and patients can suffer from relapses in both diseases.


Crohn’s disease can affect all sections of the digestive tract – from the mouth to the anus. The most common site of inflammation in Crohn’s disease is the last section of the small intestine and the beginning of the adjacent large intestine. The inflammation extends through all layers of the intestine.


The involvement of the small intestine in Crohn’s disease can lead to inadequate absorption of nutrients. Vitamin B12 deficiency is particularly common.


In contrast, ulcerative colitis exclusively affects the large intestine and is found only on the uppermost layer of the intestinal mucosa. During an inflammatory episode, the colon can only reabsorb water to a limited extent and this leads to diarrhea, among other symptoms.

Symptoms of IBD


Patients complain mainly of pain in the right lower abdomen and occurrence of bloody and non-bloody diarrhea, often accompanied by cramps. Anal fistulas and abscesses are common.


In addition, other organs may be affected, such as joints, eye, liver or skin.


An additional accompanying symptom is also the impaired absorption of nutrients through the intestine, since the intestine is damaged. In the long run, this leads to further health problems, such as skin changes, growth disorders in children, anemia, gallstones, and even unwanted weight loss.


How do inflammatory bowel diseases develop?


It is now assumed that several factors contribute to the outbreak of both diseases. These include a hereditary component, environmental influences, frequent medication, the intestinal microbiome and a disturbed barrier function of the intestinal mucosa and the associated overreaction of the immune system.


The influence of nutrition is also discussed in IBD, moreover in older studies there is evidence that refined sugars, low fiber and unfavorable fatty acids help to ignite inflammation in the gut.


Current studies also address the question of whether sulfur-containing foods or sulfur-containing additives may be partly responsible for the inflammatory changes in the gut.


Nutrition in IBD


There is currently no specific diet or proven beneficial diet for IBD. Nevertheless, a healthy diet should be included as the basis for any applied therapy in IBD in order to also avoid an undersupply of micro- and macronutrients. Good nutrition certainly cannot completely prevent a flare, but it has been shown to have a positive effect on the course of the disease.


During the acute phase – what to eat?


In this phase it is particularly important to provide the body with sufficient energy, nutrients and fluids and yet not overload the intestines. This is not always easy! The easiest way is to reduce fiber over time, avoid fried, fatty foods and, above all, eat foods that are easy to digest. Creamy pureed soups, steamed vegetables, avocado, steamed fish and natural yogurt are just a few foods that can be quite helpful during this phase and also provide the necessary nutrients and energy.


During this phase, the patients mainly lack protein because the immune system works at full speed and consumes a lot of protein to produce antibodies. In this phase, the metabolism has a protein requirement of 1.2 to 1.5 grams ~2 lbs of body weight.


Free of complaints – balanced nutrition


There is currently no general dietary recommendation for symptom-free periods. However, studies show that avoiding foods that are too sour, too spicy, too sweet and too fatty is good for the intestines. A balanced, healthy diet, containing mainly fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits and herbs, has a positive effect on IBD. This is because these foods contain an abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. In order to also allow the intestines sufficient recovery time, it is better to avoid raw vegetable foods at the beginning and to prepare the vegetables gently so that as many valuable vitamins as possible are retained. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids support cell structure and cell regeneration. Therefore, sea fish and cold-pressed cooking oils, such as linseed, rapeseed, hemp or walnut oil should be frequently integrated into the diet.


A nutrition based on unprocessed foods also provides important minerals, such as magnesium (oatmeal, nuts, green vegetables, legumes) and zinc (fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes, meat, whole grains), which are extremely important for the metabolism. Both minerals are involved in over 300 metabolic processes. It has even been proven that actually a slight zinc deficiency can trigger an outbreak of inflammation. But the B vitamins must also be supplied in sufficient quantities to avoid deficiencies. B vitamins are water-soluble and are excreted in diarrhea to an increasing degree.


Metabolic Balance and IBD


As I said, there is no such thing as “the diet” for inflammatory bowel disease, but there is a recommendation for a balanced, healthy nutrition. Metabolic Balance is an anti-inflammatory diet and can help sufferers to eat healthily in both acute and symptom-free phases. With the individual composition of foods, the Metabolic Balance nutrition plan provides a guideline for more well-being and vitality.

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