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The Role of Western Diet in the Onset of IBD ( Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)

Updated: Jan 7

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have the potential to impact your quality of life, especially if the change is sudden. But with the right approach and education, you can manage these conditions and even overcome them with confidence to be the healthier possible. It could be that it is the Western diet that causes the majority of problems, which is why it’s so crucial to learn more about what you can do to make lasting changes. 

The incidence of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the Western world

According to charity Crohn's and Colitis UK, there are currently over 500,000 people in the UK suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This includes around 300,000 people with ulcerative colitis and around 250,000 with Crohn's disease. These numbers have been increasing over time and they estimate that 1 in every 420 people in the UK has IBD. So it's a significant health issue affecting around 0.2% of the population.

Enough people know the typical Western diet is not as healthy as it could be. Rather than embrace healthy options, your average Westerner (especially in the UK) lives on a diet of pre-packaged foods or meals packed with salt and high sugar content. Besides this, fried foods and red meats are common, but while many might consider them delicious, this diet is not beneficial to your health. 

Why is the western diet so damaging for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis? 

You already know–and may have experienced first-hand–how damaging a typical Western diet can be. The amount of red or processed meat, as well as high salt, sugar and both saturated and trans fats, can all affect your overall well-being and damage our gut health. 

These processed foods could cause inflammation, especially if your body is already prone to experiencing issues like this. The average person experiencing Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis may not get enough nutrients or enjoy a well-balanced diet. Even if you do not experience problems now, failing to adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle could have severe repercussions later. 

What can people who suffer with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis do? 

Making positive dietary changes is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of experiencing Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis flare-ups. If you already have experience with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis , adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, which focuses on natural, non-processed, cooked, low-fibre foods, can help manage any symptoms. You should avoid foods containing simple carbohydrates that promote inflammation and can worsen diarrhoea, like white flour products, pastries, sweets, soft drinks, syrups and jellies which elevate the bad bacteria associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis flare-ups. Replacing these harmful foods with anti-inflammatory, natural foods with high probiotic properties (such as natural yogurt or sauerkraut) will improve your gut health, reduce the discomfort caused by Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and encourage remission. 

Anti-inflammatory diet helps manage Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

An anti-inflammatory diet for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis poses multiple benefits, including reducing inflammation, intestinal distress and improving fatigue. It can make it easier for you to reduce and manage symptoms and feel more confident, whether at work, school, or spending quality time with friends and family. 

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis natural treatment options should include foods that have proven anti-inflammatory properties, such as: 

- Dark leafy greens - Spinach, kale, collards, and other dark greens are packed with vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation. Add them to smoothies to break down the fiber and make them easier to digest.

- Berries - Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory effects. You can eat them as they are if they are tolerated, or add them to smoothies to break down the fiber.

- Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies - Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain a compound called sulforaphane that combats inflammation. Cook or steam them thoroughly to make them more digestible.

- Turmeric - The curcumin compound in turmeric has been extensively studied for its potent anti-inflammatory capacities.

These are only a few examples of anti-inflammatory foods that you can combine in your diet. It is best that you consult a qualified Naturopath who specializes in treating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, like myself, and get  the most accurate recommendations to your specific condition.

You can live healthy and happey even with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis 

Just because you have experienced or currently experience Crohn's or ulcerative colitis or similar conditions doesn’t mean you need to accept this forever. Taking the right approach and adjusting your diet can help you live a healthier and happier life, and you might even discover that these diets are what you’ve always looked for. 

Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis


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