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Crohn's Disease Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

Why Is Diet So Important in Crohn's Disease?

Patient Comments

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
Picture of Crohn's Disease

Why Are Nutritional Deficiencies Dangerous in Crohn's disease?

Patient Comments

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
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Crohn's Disease Diet (Trigger Foods):

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Medications

Have you have problems with your medications and your diet?

Crohn's Disease and Diet - Trigger Foods

Please share what foods trigger your Crohn's and what foods ease and relieve symptoms?

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?

Crohn's Disease Diet - Nutritional Deficiencies

Have you had difficulty getting enough nutrition with your Crohn's disease?

Crohn's Disease Symptoms and Signs

The most common symptoms in Crohn's disease include:

  • Diarrhea that waxes and wanes
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Crampy or steady abdominal pain
  • Bloating after eating
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

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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