Let Us Elaborate…
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. However, research suggests a combination of factors may be responsible. Inherited genes from your parents may increase your risk of developing Crohn’s disease. The inflammation may also be caused by a problem with the immune system (the body’s defence against infection and illness) that causes it to attack healthy bacteria in the gut. Equally, abnormal responses from the immune system can stem from previous infections.
Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the intestine, often in patches surrounded by healthy tissue, and can spread deeper into the tissues. Inflammation can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine (colon). IBD’s can sometimes affect other parts of the body, such as the joints, or cause inflammation of the eyes.
People with Crohn’s disease sometimes go for long periods without symptoms or with very mild symptoms. This is known as remission. Remission can be followed by periods where symptoms flare up and become particularly troublesome. Common symptoms include: diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, gas fatigue, unintended weight loss, blood and mucus in faeces, anaemia, mouth ulcers and floating stools (caused by poor digestion of fat).
In terms of lifestyle, obesity, low exposure to sunlight and consuming a diet of processed foods high in sugar and saturated fat (and low in fruits and vegetables) can all be contributing factors. Studies have also shown smokers with Crohn’s disease usually have more severe symptoms than non-smokers.
What To Avoid
While a low fibre diet is often a risk factor for Crohn’s disease, a high fibre diet can aggravate symptoms for some sufferers. High fibre foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, normally recommended to help constipation, can make symptoms worse for some people with IBD, and this is where juicing could support you as the fibre is reduced but the nutritional value is high. Plus, you retain the insoluble fibre which helps with bowel movements. Another potential problem for those with IBD and Crohn’s disease is dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water. You may have to ask your doctor whether a stool softener might help and get advice from a dietitian about which diet would be best for you.
- Caffeine found in coffee, tea, certain carbonated drinks and even chocolate, caffeine can be an irritant to Crohn’s disease and IBD.
- Alcohol and tobacco – both should be avoided as they can be a trigger to the disease.
- Dairy & fatty foods
- Refined food (such as white bread and pasta)
What To Include
As with many inflammatory diseases, a diet rich in anti-oxidant foods and omega-3 fatty acids is highly recommended to reduce inflammation. However, as mentioned above, fibre can aggravate symptoms for Crohn’s sufferers, which is where juicing may be beneficial for reasons already mentioned above.
- Adding omega-3’s can also help with the absorption of many of the anti-oxidant rich foods which contain fat soluble nutrients, helping to overcome the absorption issues faced by Crohn’s sufferers.
- Eating 5-6 small meals a day may also help Crohn’s disease and juicing can support a decreased appetite and any malabsorption associated with the disease.
- Carrot Juice
Soothing to the GI tract, Steven D. Erlich, N.M.D. of the University of Maryland Medical Centre, suggests that carrot juice is an ideal drink to get fluids back into the body and restore your balance of electrolytes when experiencing diarrhoea. Drinking carrot juice offers a way to get a whole range of vitamins including A, K and D, as well as B, C and E. Carrot juice also contains minerals such as calcium, which may play a role in helping the integrity of intestinal walls. You also get B vitamin complexes such as folic acid from carrot juice. Carrot juice is extremely useful in providing these nutrients without any irritating elements, and blends of carrot/apples, carrot/celery and carrot/spinach are nutritious and easy to digest without stimulating too much peristalsis (which is very painful during an active Crohn’s episode).
- Cantaloupe Melon is extremely high in beta-carotene (an anti-oxidant) which can help reduce the inflammation and restore natural health to injured mucosal tissue.
- Chlorella – a single-celled fresh water algae, chlorella is often referred to as a near-perfect food, with a wide range of health benefits. For starters, it promotes healthy pH levels in your gut, which in turn helps good bacteria to thrive. It is also a potent detox agent for mercury and other heavy metals, which is useful since one of the symptoms of mercury build-up is digestive distress and reduced ability to properly assimilate and utilise fats. Chlorella is even rich in fibre, helping to tone the lining of your intestines and keep you ‘regular’.
- Red Cabbage Juice juice works wonders for digestive problems. This colourful vegetable is rich in the amino acid L-glutamine, which is known to help heal the soft tissue lining your intestines..
- Spinach Juice can help to repair, heal and nourish the tracts as wells as tone up their functions. Spinach juice works well with carrot juice and a bit of apple.
- Vitamins & Minerals – people with Crohn’s disease may lack adequate vitamin D, B12, K, folic acid (folate), zinc and calcium. Zinc (works best with vitamin A, a key anti-oxidant and – in its plant-based form – carotenoids). Folic acid and B12 are all used to repair cells in the intestine. Whilst a multivitamin/supplement may help boost these (especially vitamin D and B12 which can be hard for some people to get from juicing alone), you can certainly boost your intake and find good supplies of these nutrients in the plants you juice. Plant-based sources of vitamin D include mushrooms, dandelion greens, nettles and parsley, but the best sources are natural sunshine, oily fish and eggs. Spinach, sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, beets, cauliflower and avocados are all good sources of B vitamins and folic acid. Vitamin K and calcium can both be found in broccoli, parsley, spinach and kale, all of which are great for juicing.
- Probiotics – preliminary evidence is showing that probiotics may also support those with Crohn’s disease, helping to reduce inflammation and bring harmony back to the gut by increasing the number of friendly bacteria. You should discuss taking probiotics with your health care provider before starting a course. It is also important to remember that you need to feed your friendly bacteria with prebiotics as this will help the friendly bacteria to grow. Good plant sources of prebiotics include garlic, asparagus, onion, banana, cabbage, apples and root vegetables.
- Water – another potential problem for those with IBD and Crohn’s disease is dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water.
The Juice Recipes
Red Cabbage Relief (from Super Juice Me Documentary.)
1/2 Small Cabbage (red cabbage works really well)
How To Make:
Juice everything and enjoy!
Please note, it is impossible to give a definitive list as what supports one person can be a trigger food or allergen for another. You must stay your own juice detective at all times and listen to how your own body responds to certain foods and always consult with your healthcare provider when making changes to your diet which may affect your medication. Please be aware that we are not doctors, so it is important to consult with your GP or medical practitioner BEFORE making any changes to your diet. The suggestions above are not meant as an alternative to any current medical treatment so please DO NOT stop taking any medications you are on. They are also not an endorsement of their effectiveness, or a recommendation that they should be followed but instead, are provided for informational purposes. None of the information on the Natural Juice Therapy site is intended or implied to treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease.