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The role of foods in Crohn’s disease

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, most commonly the small intestine.

Crohn’s causes inflammation (redness, swelling or pain), which can narrow or block the bowel, cause small holes (fistula) or create an abscess (a collection of pus).

There is no cure for Crohn’s disease and it is a lifelong condition. Crohn’s treatment focuses on relieving symptoms. Many people with Crohn’s find they can manage their condition well and enjoy long and happy lives.

Crohn’s disease symptoms

Gut inflammation can make it harder for the body to absorb food, leading to Crohn’s symptoms such as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low iron levels
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Inflammation around the eyes or liver
  • Rashes.

Crohn’s disease can fluctuate between periods of remission with few symptoms and flare-ups where symptoms are more frequent and intense.

Flares aren’t easy to predict but they can be triggered by factors like:

  • Missing Crohn’s treatment, e.g. missing medication doses
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Illness
  • Some medications such as antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

What role does diet play in Crohn’s?

Crohn’s treatment may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. For some people, it may also involve surgery.

One of the key lifestyle changes is diet. The right diet supports nutrition, relieves inflammation and may help to ease both flare-ups and bowel sensitivity.

As time goes on and you become more familiar with your experience of Crohn’s, you may start to notice that certain foods seem to trigger your symptoms. It may be helpful to keep a diary to see if you can identify a pattern.

Dietary changes may help you manage Crohn’s symptoms such as diarrhoea, dehydration, bloating, wind, constipation, weight loss, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and pain. It’s important to continue following the medical treatment recommended by your doctor and to consult a dietitian.

Some research suggests a link between Crohn’s disease and certain foods that can trigger inflammation, possibly through a type III food allergy (delayed food allergy). In 2012, researchers asked Crohn’s disease patients who were currently in remission to spend 3 days eating foods that trigger the production of IgG antibodies. These can be signs of a delayed food allergy, commonly known as intolerance, where symptoms appear up to three days after consuming a trigger food. Sure enough, all the patients in the study demonstrated increased markers of intestinal inflammation and abdominal symptoms a few days after eating the trigger foods.

In 2018, Chinese researchers studied 301 patients with Crohn’s disease (201) and ulcerative colitis (100) and tested their blood for antibodies to 14 known IgG foods. Those blood tests showed that the Crohn’s patients had significantly increased reactions to egg, milk, wheat, corn, rice, tomato, codfish and soybeans.

How can ImuPro help?

ImuPro’s tests mean you can quickly and effectively discover if you have any food intolerances and food allergies that may be affecting your health.

Read more about IgG testing and Crohn’s disease or take our free self-assessment today.


*All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. 


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