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Diet and Nutrition in Crohn Disease (cont.)

Why does my doctor say I may need a special diet?

Some people with Crohn's disease are simply unable to meet their nutritional needs through the food they eat. Others are not able to take solid food during a severe Crohn's flare or after surgery on their intestines. Still others, such as growing children, need extra nutritional support. Each of these groups may benefit from a special diet. If you have strictures of the small intestine, you may need to be on a low residue diet.

The two most widely used special diets are elemental diets and total parenteral nutrition (TPN). In some people these diets are temporary measures; others will be on special diets for the rest of their life.

What is an elemental diet?

Patient Comments

Elemental diets are liquid diets that contain all the nutrients your body needs. The nutrients are usually in digested form so they put no stress on the digestive system. Elemental diets supply all your nutritional needs while giving your digestive system a rest.

What is total parenteral nutrition, or TPN?

Total parenteral nutrition is another way of supplying all your nutritional needs. The nutrients are given directly into the bloodstream via an IV into a vein. This intravenous feeding generally is reserved for people who are unable to digest food or are severely malnourished. People with severe inflammation not responsive to medications, complications from Crohn's disease such as fistulas, or a very small amount of bowel left that is insufficient to digest and absorb food may also receive TPN.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Crohn's Disease and Diet:

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Medications

Have you have problems with your medications and your diet?

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Trigger Foods

What foods trigger Crohn's disease flares for you?

Crohn's Disease and Diet - The Elemental Diet

Please describe your experience with an elemental diet and Crohn's disease.

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Alcohol and Other Drinks

What drinks have you found nutritious and helpful with Crohn's disease?

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Experience

Please describe what foods you have been able to tolerate, and what foods aggravate Crohn's disease.

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Diet and Symptoms

What changes have you made to your diet that have helped in managing your Crohn's diseases symptoms?


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Crohn Disease »

Crohn disease is an idiopathic, chronic, transmural inflammatory process of the bowel that often leads to fibrosis and obstructive symptoms, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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