Tag Archives: inflammation

Can one diet change ease Crohn’s?

Image result for plant based good fatsCrohn’s is a disease that hundreds of thousands suffer from in silence. An autoimmune disorder, the symptoms are different from person to person and just as difficult to treat.

Food is another challenge to folks fighting Crohn’s, with flare ups stemming from all types of sources. But a new study is linking an uptick in consumption of plant-based fats with a decrease in bad bacteria and inflammation in the digestive tract of mice.

“The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn’s patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet,” said Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD to EurekAlert.

The research seems rather promising, given that patients with Crohn’s could begin to see the benefits simply by swapping coconut oil for butter or using cocoa butter as a substitute.

Another positive aspect is the insight this offers medical researchers into what makes good fats, well, good.

“Ongoing studies are now helping us to understand which component of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats make the difference,” Rodriguez-Palacios said. “Ultimately, we aim to identify the ‘good’ fat-loving microbes for testing as probiotics.”

In other words, this cross-referencing of research could start to pinpoint the magic potion for sufferers of Crohn’s. Since each person and their lower tract is unique, however, it’s not likely there will be a one-size-fits-all solution that comes out of this line of study. But getting closer to understanding what makes these good fats reduce inflammation and symptoms in any way is a positive step for patients.

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Crohn’s Disease fact sheet

It’s estimated that some 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Crohn’s Disease. A type of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s causes inflammation of the gut which can lead to some serious symptoms.

Crohn's Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease suffered by millions.

Crohn’s disease is a mysterious yet manageable digestive disorder.

Dr. Wael Refai, board-certified MD in internal medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology at Troy Gastroenterology, sat down with us to discuss some of the facts of this mysterious disorder.

Causes

“The cause of the disease is unknown,” says Dr. Refai. “But there are some genetic predispositions, and exposure to certain environmental factors may trigger the immune system.”

The biggest environmental factor is smoking. Crohn’s disease is “about twice as common in smokers than nonsmokers,” says Dr. Refai.

Crohn’s is just as common in women and men, and the age for development is surprisingly young. “Crohn’s is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35,” says the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Symptoms and treatment

Diarrhea is the most common symptom, but another one that’s often reported is a feeling of needing to go without being able to. And since “Crohn’s attacks the last part of the small intestine,” says Dr. Refai, “the most common location of pain is the right lower side of the abdomen.”

Other symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, decreased appetite, mouth ulcers and anal fissures. If you’re experiencing bloody stool, you may become anemic as well.

The course of treatment depends on a number of factors. The severity of the symptoms, the site of the affected area or other secondary problems will influence the treatment your doctor decides. Frequently, doctors recommend a steroid treatment, antibiotics or dietary changes. Rarely, surgery is necessary.

Other things to consider

“If Crohn’s Disease is affecting your large intestine,” says Dr. Refai, “you’re at a slightly increased risk for developing cancer.” Patients with large intestine Crohn’s should take preventive measures such as colonoscopies to preemptively intervene with cancer. The earlier any complications from Crohn’s are caught, the less likely that you’ll develop cancer.

Additionally, not every course of treatment will work for every patient. Following your doctor’s recommend course of treatment is the best way “to increase your chance of remaining free from flare-ups,” suggests Dr. Refai.

But a word of warning: “Diligence may not work all the time. There is a balance between the benefits of the medications and the possible side effects for some patients.”

Beyond the medical implications of Crohn’s, it’s important to remember that if you suffer from the disease, you are not alone. There are several celebrities who struggle with the disease, and CCFA offers support groups to help you cope.

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