Crohn's Disease Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid
Why Is Diet So Important in Crohn's Disease?
Most of us know that good nutrition is essential to good health. Healthy eating is even more important to people whose health is compromised by a chronic disease. When you have Crohn's disease, maintaining good nutrition can be a real challenge.
Several factors contribute to nutritional problems in people with Crohn's disease. When the small intestine is inflamed, it is not able to perform its main function, which is absorbing nutrients from food. The degree of this impairment, called malabsorption, depends on the extent of inflammation and damage in the intestine.
To make matters worse, the intestinal inflammation and pain of the disease reduces a person's appetite, so they probably do not eat enough to supply nutritional needs. Diarrhea further depletes important nutrients. Compounding the problem is the fact that people with a chronic illness such as Crohn's disease require more calories and certain other nutrients than healthy people. The most common nutritional problem in people with Crohn's disease is insufficient calorie intake.
Picture of Crohn's Disease
Why Are Nutritional Deficiencies Dangerous in Crohn's disease?
The human body needs proteins, fats, calories, vitamins, and minerals to grow, build new cells and tissues, and carry out its many functions. Most of these nutrients are contained in the foods we eat. To ensure that we get all of the nutrients we need, we are advised to eat a balanced diet from the four food groups: meat and other proteins, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and cereals and grains.
When we eat, foods are broken down in the stomach and intestines. Nutrients are absorbed through the wall of the small intestine, and the waste is eliminated as stool or feces when we have a bowel movement. This process is impaired in people with Crohn's disease, and nutritional deficiencies can result.
Nutritional deficiencies are a problem for almost everyone with Crohn's disease, but they are most serious in children and teens who are still growing. Growth can be stunted permanently and sexual development (puberty) delayed in children and teens with Crohn's disease. Girls and women can develop hormone imbalances and stop menstruating. Nutritional deficiencies also can prevent medications from working as well as they should in healthy people.
In general, nutritional deficiencies can lead to overall poor health. They can make you feel weak, tired, depressed, or just "blah." If you have enough nutritional deficiencies, it can leave you vulnerable to infections and other diseases. They can stop anyone from looking, feeling, or performing at his or her best.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017
Sandeep Mukherjee, MD, MB, BCh
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Crohn's Disease Diet (Trigger Foods):