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I have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). What should I eat?

May 18, 2020

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John Garber, MD, Contributor

Over the past decade, John Garber, MD, has been deeply engaged in a dual program of clinical training in internal medicine and gastroenterology, while at the same time cultivating basic and translational research experience that has … See Full Bio
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May 28, 2020

I am a 63 year old woman who has suffered from Crohns since my early 20’s. At that time I had chronic diarrhea and lots of pain on one side of my lower abdomen.

I was finally as diagnosed in my late 40’s with a bowel obstruction and a fistula. I did not respond to treatment and continued to have “mini obstructions that calmed down only with fasting. My doctor and I believed I was a ticking time bomb for a catastrophic event.

Soon after, I had surgery to remove 4 inches of bowel and fistula repair. My surgeon hand inspected my entire bowel during surgery and found no further damage.
He and my gastroenterologist were so impressed with the lack of damage throughout my bowel for the past 20 years, they agreed they did not want me on medication. I have had no problems whatsoever for the past 11 years.

I eat a meticulous vegan diet and get daily exercise; mostly walking and hiking. I average 6-8 miles daily when walking .

I love the food I eat and do not feel deprived. Fatty foods, fast food, candy just sound like a dose of pain.

My colonoscopies are clean. I know it is accepted that there is no cure for Crohn’s , but I have had no medications or symptoms for so long, I believe I no longer have the disease.

Kenneth Giles
May 26, 2020

In response to AGoldstein I’d say, Yes, stress doesn’t help but in my case the problem was controlled by a radical change in diet and strict conformity what I found worked. Getting the malady under control helped to reduce the stress particularly stress from the challenges of managing bowel control when travelling.

Kenneth Giles
May 26, 2020

I suffered for years from IBD (colitis) and then, realising that the standard treatments had all sorts of unfortunate side effects I decided to tackle it with dietary change. Cut out all grain based carbs (bread, biscuits & the like; eliminate refined sugar and processed foods and eliminate all milk products. It worked. Haven’t suffered since the change (15 – 20 years ago) and I survive very well on fresh vegetables, salads, eggs, some meat, and fresh fruit. Lots of green smoothies with organic greens, fruit and seeds such as linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds soaked in water 24 hours. Now 76, fit & well.

Maggie Sal
May 26, 2020

Wow Kenneth!

Nancy Siegel
May 25, 2020

My IBD (possible ulcerative colitis) symptoms were 95% improved by going to a low-sugar, gluten-free and lactose-free diet. I suffered for years with bouts of diarrhea for 1-3 days per week. My gastroenterologist neglected to suggest this. I decided to try it myself. I have been really well for five years. I am 82 years old.

May 25, 2020

I have IBD and milk was the worst thing to ingest as well as certain vegetables and fruits. Especially cabbage and bananas. My anal area would get inflamed, then the diahrea. What did help was a mood stabilizer. When I started taking that, the irritable bowel stopped. They say the gut and brain are closely connected. But yes. Mood stabilizer works and I can now eat almost anything except bananas.

Jay Stern
May 25, 2020

This article is missing associations with food allergies, which could be the cause of incorrectly diagnosed IBD or IBS.

Jeffrey Thomson
May 25, 2020

Recent observations by doctors at Grand River Hospital (Kitchener Ontario Canada) on the consumption of edible marijuana (THC and CBD components), used for pain and nausea control, have identified elevated instances of IBD flare ups in both cancer and non cancer patients (no one specific cancer types identified during the observations). The observations require further study, but were high enough to these doctors, to advise their patients to use other methods of intake or other medications. The Federal Government recently legalized the use of marijuana in Canada, as such, funding to conduct a fulsome study was refused. I hope someone can get funding to further study the effects of THC, CBD on the patients with IBD.

May 25, 2020

What about microscopic colitis – have any studies looked at the effect of diet? Or do you not consider that IBD?

May 25, 2020

Isn’t stress level (i.e., the gut-brain connection) a complicating factor for individuals who are trying to determine whether specific food ingredients are helpful or harmful to their IBD? Shouldn’t the also be tracking their stress level? If so, what is the best way to assess stress?

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Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes a number of conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the intestines and triggers inflammation of the tissues. There are two main kinds of IBD: ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. Today many medications are available to successfully treat IBD. These therapies work to calm inflammation, reduce and even alleviate symptoms, decrease flare-ups, and help you better cope with your condition. This report provides insight into the possible causes and complications of IBD, how you are diagnosed, and the steps you can take for better care so you can live your best life.

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