What are the lifestyle changes that can be made and the outlook for Crohn's disease?

What are the lifestyle changes that can be made and the outlook for Crohn's disease?

What are the lifestyle changes that can be made and the outlook for Crohn's disease?

What are the lifestyle changes and home treatments for Crohn’s disease?

When suffering from Crohn’s disease patients can often feel helpless. However, changes in their lifestyle and diet can help them to control their symptoms and even lengthen their periods of remission. The following changes can be implemented:

Diet

Currently, there is no hard evidence that one’s diet can be a direct cause of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), however, certain foods and drinks are able to aggravate the symptoms.

It can be extremely beneficial for the patient to have a food diary and take note of what they are eating and how this makes them feel. If it is discovered that certain foods worsen the symptoms, then it may help to eliminate them from one’s diet.

The following are some suggestions that are able to help patients with their diet:

What to avoid

  • Dairy products – These do not have to be eliminated entirely, but through limiting dairy products the patient may notice an improvement in symptoms associated with gas and bloating or even abdominal cramping. Some people are also lactose intolerant, meaning that their body cannot digest lactose found in dairy which is a milk sugar. The use of an enzyme tablet known as Lactaid can also help in this.
  • High-fat foods – When suffering from Crohn’s disease, the small intestine’s ability to absorb or digest fat is impaired. This results in fat passing straight through the intestine and worsening any diarrhoea experienced, therefore, it is best to stick to low-fat foods.
  • Fibre – Fibre should be limited as foods with a high-fibre content such as vegetables and fruit can worsen the symptoms. If the patient still wants to eat these products, they should rather cook or steam them first as this makes them easier for the body to digest. Cabbage can also be a problem food, as well as nuts, seeds, broccoli, corn and cauliflower.
  • Problem foods – Alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine can worsen symptoms as they aggravate the bowel.

Other dietary precautions and measures

  • Try to eat smaller meals more frequently – By eating smaller meals every two hours or so can be easier for the bowels to digest and lessen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease slightly.
  • Drink enough fluids – The patient needs to ensure that they are drinking enough liquids every day, particularly water. Carbonated drinks should be avoided as these result in gas and bloating which can be painful for those with Crohn’s disease.
  • Take multivitamins – The patient should first speak to their doctor before taking any supplements. Crohn’s disease can result in malnutrition which means that the body will be lacking vital nutrients, some of which can be replaced through the use of multivitamins that contain calcium, iron and vitamin B-12.
  • Speak to a dietician – Should a patient start to lose weight, a dietician can help them in finding out what foods are best for nutrition and their condition.

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes can significantly increase one’s risk of Crohn’s disease developing, and a patient who smokes and has the condition will worsen their symptoms through doing so. Quitting smoking and improve the overall health of the patient’s digestive tract.    

Stress

Stress is not a direct cause of Crohn’s disease, however, it is thought that it can worsen the symptoms and signs associated with the condition and even trigger a flare-up. The association between Crohn’s disease and stress is, however, still a controversial topic.

When someone is stressed, their digestive processes can change as their stomach may empty at a slower pace and also secrete more acid. Stress is also able to speed up the passing of the intestinal contents and can result in the intestinal tissue changes. The following are techniques that can help someone to manage stress:

  • Exercise – Exercise can help in reducing stress and even normalising the functioning of the bowel. At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to have a healthy digestive tract.
  • Biofeedback – This technique aids in reducing stress, the patient is connected to a biofeedback machine as they are helped to reach a relaxed state to reduce their muscle tension and slow down their heart rate. This will in turn teach them how to reach this state of relaxation on their own.
  • Breathing techniques – There are a number of exercises and meditation practices that can aid in educating patients on breathing techniques to aid in reducing their stress levels.

What is the outlook for Crohn’s disease?

The prognosis of Crohn’s disease tends to vary significantly between patients. The condition can range from being moderate, also known as benign, to being more severe. Patients can be situated on either side of the scale, whereas some may only experience one episode and other may suffer from the condition continuously (chronic cases). Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available and ongoing research to find out more about the condition and a potential cure.

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