Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the gut. The 2 most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can lead to inflammation throughout the digestive tract and in ulcerative colitis, the inflammation is mainly located in the colon.
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE SYMPTOMS
The main symptoms of IBD are periodic flare-ups accompanied by diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and in the case of ulcerative colitis, some bleeding. These conditions are linked to complex immunological disturbances in the mucus layer lining the gastrointestinal tract. Research has not pinpointed any one specific cause of these conditions but some research has shown that there is a reaction in the bowel towards the commensal bacteria that live in the gut. That means that our immune system doesn’t recognise the bacteria as friendly and tries to attack it – inflammation is a very important part of our immune response, but when it gets out of control it can cause a lot of problems.
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE TREATMENT
As a nutritionist, my job is to get the gut in 100% working order and rectify any issues that may be causing internal inflammation. I work with IBD clients to minimise or completely eradicate flare ups via dietary manipulation and supplements that can calm down internal inflammation and manipulate the gut bacteria to a less reactive mix. I always run food allergy and intolerance testing for my IBD clients – it makes sense to eradicate any foods from the diet that may be causing inflammation in the gut. Identifying reactive foods can lead to an easing of symptoms, and longer periods between flare ups as can cleaning up the diet and limiting reactive foods such as gluten, dairy and alcohol.
A well thought out, individualised nutrition plan can be the key to minimising pain and suffering in these challenging conditions.