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Understanding Crohn’s Disease – An Overview

Sometimes referred to as Ileitis, Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition known to cause inflammation and scarring in the intestinal tract. While the intensity of the symptoms may vary, most people with Crohn’s disease experience uncomfortable abominable pain and cramping along with diarrhea, fatigue, a reduction in appetite, sores in the mouth, and anemia. The condition is often marked by periods of severity or flare-ups, followed by remissions.

Estimates from the Crohn’s & Colitis foundation suggest that upwards of 800,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease, which is sometimes misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis. 

While anyone can get Crohn’s disease, it tends to run in families, and to be more common among teenagers and young adults from ages 15 to 35 years. Additionally, females are slightly more likely than males to experience the condition. It is also slightly more common in the Caucasian population, and among those identifying as Ashkenazi Jews. Additionally, people who smoke are more likely to get it than nonsmokers. Smoking also can also hinder treatment outcomes and make the symptoms more frequent and severe.

If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms that may be related to Crohn’s disease, it is important to seek out qualified medical attention from a gastroenterologist like the physicians at Gastroenterology Health Partners. Diagnosing the condition generally involves a variety of tests that may include blood tests, fecal tests, imaging tests including CT or MRI, colonoscopy procedure, endoscopy, and more. 

At present, there is not a cure for Crohn’s disease, but there are a variety of treatment approaches that depend in part on a person’s specific symptoms and the severity of the condition. Sometimes certain medications including anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics and corticosteroids may provide relief. 

Limiting Crohn’s Disease Flare Ups with a Dietary Approach

People with Crohn’s disease are encouraged to follow specific dietary recommendations to reduce the chance for disease flare ups. This tends to include the following:

  1. Avoid beverages with a lot of carbonation including soft drinks and carbonated waters.
  2. Limit certain high-fiber foods including the skins of vegetables, popcorn and nuts.
  3. Increase fluid intake, especially water.
  4. Drink beverages more slowly and without a straw, in order to avoid ingesting air, which can cause gas.
  5. Focus on eating foods made with basic techniques including boiling, poaching, or steaming.
  6. Avoid artificial sugars like sorbitol and mannitol, often used in sugar free candy and chewing gum.
  7. Limit lactose in milk, soft cheeses, cream cheese, and other dairy products.
  8. Limit foods that have a lot of fat including butter, coconut, cream, fried foods, greasy foods, etc.
  9. Limit beverages that contain caffeine and/or alcohol.
  10. Limit high spice foods, especially hot foods.
  11. Eat more fruits that are lower in fiber like melons (cantaloupe and honeydew) and bananas.
  12. Eat four to six frequent smaller meals a day rather than two or three larger ones.

Since each person’s experience with foods that trigger the condition may be unique, it is also advisable that people with Crohn’s keep some type of food journal to better identify patterns including which foods and beverages cause the most discomfort.

Surgery is also not uncommon for people with Crohn’s disease. In fact, estimates suggest that upwards of three out of four people with Crohn’s require surgery at some time. Though surgery does not provide a cure, it can help to preserve a person’s GI tract enough to provide some essential relief. Surgery is typically a consideration only after a person is no longer able to manage symptoms with dietary practices and medications. It may also be required if a person develops some type of intestinal obstruction, fissure, or fistula.  

For additional information about Crohn’s disease, or to schedule an appointment with an experienced gastroenterologist, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today by reaching out to a practice location near you. 

If you are suffering from symptoms of a GI condition, the experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you using the most advanced treatment options available. We strive to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective GI care in the region. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you. 

Why You Need To Add More Fiber To Your Diet

These days, the importance of consuming dietary fiber is fairly common knowledge. Most of us make an effort to add fiber to our diets, whether it be through a fiber-rich cereal or daily multi-vitamin. 

But, even if you’re taking strides to include fiber in your diet, you’re likely not getting enough! On average, Americans eat about 15 grams of fiber a day. That number should be between 25 and 35 grams, or more. And not just from supplements or vitamins, but from whole foods.

Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Keep reading to learn about what fiber is, why it matters, and some high-fiber foods to add to your grocery list. 

What Is Fiber?

Dietary Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Unlike other nutrients such as proteins and fats, fiber cannot be digested by the body. It simply passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon. 

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are important for different reasons, and many foods contain both types. Soluble fibers can be dissolved in water, which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers cannot be dissolved in water, which adds necessary bulk to stool, promoting regularity of the digestive tract. 

Why Is Fiber Important?

Beyond fiber’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, balance cholesterol, and promote regularity, adequate fiber consumption has been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and many gastrointestinal conditions such as colorectal ulcers, hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids. Plus, by reducing the risk of constipation, fiber helps improve gut health. High fiber foods are also generally healthier and more filling than processed, low-fiber foods. 

Try These High Fiber Foods

High Fiber Fruits

  • 1 cup of Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 Pear: 5.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Apple: 4.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Banana: 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 Orange: 3 grams of fiber

High Fiber Vegetables

  • 1 cup of Green Peas: 9 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber 
  • 1 cup of Turnips: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brussel Sprouts: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 Potato: 4 grams of fiber

High Fiber Grains

  • 1 cup of Spaghetti: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Barley: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Quinoa: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Oatmeal: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brown Rice: 3.5 grams of fiber

High Fiber Legumes

  • 1 cup of Split Peas: 16 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Lentils: 15.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Black Beans: 15 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Baked Beans: 10 grams of fiber

High Fiber Nuts/Seeds

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of Chia Seeds: 10 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Flax Seeds: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pumpkin Seeds: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Almonds: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pistachios: 3 grams of fiber

If you are suffering from symptoms of a GI condition, the experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you using the most advanced treatment options available. We strive to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective GI care in the region. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you.