Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease are just a few of several inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that can wreck havoc on everyday life with pain, nutritional deficiencies and countless trips to the bathroom. While food is the not the ultimate cause of IBD, many IBD sufferers have found relief in tweaking their diets.
An IBD diet is not a one size fits all as not all IBD sufferers have the same nutritional deficiencies and symptoms. Therefore, it is important to identify and eliminate certain foods from your diet first so you can then concentrate on the foods that help soothe the gut. Here are some tips to conduct an IBD diet that eliminates common food culprits and then slowly adds them back in to identify trouble food areas:
1. For two weeks up to a month, discontinue eating the typical gut irritating foods such as dairy, nuts, wheat, citrus and soy. If there are any foods that you absolutely crave and eat often, cut those out too as they may contribute to your IBD symptoms. 2. If your IBD symptoms do not ease up during this two to four week period, the foods you eat are not part of the painful condition you have. However, as most people do find relief, it is time to slowly add foods back into your IBD diet. Introduce only one food at a time, every four to five days and take note of any symptoms. If you experience discomfort and bowel distress, take the food back out for several days. If the symptoms subside, then you have just eliminated one type of food from your IBD diet. Repeat the process for the remaining foods. 3. It can take several months to thoroughly identify those trigger foods that cause problems. While not a cure, you at least can have some control over your inflammatory bowel disease.
There are certain foods and even herbs and spices that have special inflammatory properties which can help soothe and even heal areas of the bowel, bringing greater peace of mind and body. Incorporating them into your IBD diet can bring you great relief. In regards to herbs and spices, ginger has long been known to cure queasy stomachs but it also reduces acid reflux, a common problem in IBD patients. Turmeric, a spice used heavily in curry dishes, has anti-inflammatory properties which soothe the colon. Cumin, cinnamon, caraway, fennel, and different types of mint also help.
Fruits such as pineapple and cherries have high anti-inflammatory properties which can soothe the gut. Prebiotic and probiotic foods which replenish the good bacteria in the gut are also especially important. Yogurt, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut are probiotics while bananas, garlic, onions and honey are just a few examples of prebiotics. Foods with high monounsaturated fat content can also soothe the gut such as avocadoes, dark chocolate, olive oil and other oils made from nuts.
For rough IBD days, an IBD diet with bananas, white rice and oatmeal can help. Not only do they provide much needed fiber to bulk up stool and reduce instances of diarrhea, they also do not contribute to cramping and pain. Some high fiber foods such as nuts, seeds and certain vegetables can cause painful cramping, gas, bloating and more. Sometimes, you can still get the nutrition you need in your IBD diet by grinding the nuts into butter (like peanut butter) and use a juicer with the vegetables to obtain the vitamins and nutrients without the bulk that causes pain in the colon.
A good resource for additional IBD diet tips is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Just keep in mind that your inflammatory bowel disease behaves differently than others. By starting the elimination IBD diet first, you can get a lot of answers as to what you can eat for a more soothing gut.