There is not one specific Crohn’s Disease Diet that is best
At least not that we’ve found yet. A recent research study published in the journal Gastroenterology looked at 2 different diets for Crohn’s disease and their ability to improve symptoms. One being the Mediterranean style diet and the other the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This was the first big study on the effects of diet on Crohn’s Disease.
The question that most often gets asked after diagnosis is “is there one diet I can follow to elevate symptoms?”.
Unfortunately, IBD is not a one size fits all. We know that. There isn’t a specific Crohn’s Disease Diet that works for everyone. Each person may experience different symptoms and different lifestyles may work better from one person to another. But what I have found out first hand is that FOOD MATTERS. There, I said it. The food you eat matters…and this study proved that (even if your doctors don’t want to admit it!).
The two different diets explored here are great ones, though SCD can be quite restrictive. They both focus on whole foods which is key! Processed foods are a no go but those are only exasperating our symptoms. Here are the basics when it comes to these two diets:
Mediterranean Style Diet/Lifestyle
- More heavily plant based focusing on whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.
- Consuming whole grains along with healthy sources of fats (olive oil!!).
- Limiting dairy products and red meat consumption.
- Eating healthy fish, poultry, beans and eggs.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet
- More specific to the IBD/autoimmune community, restricting grains and certain carbs.
- Eliminates processed foods, sugars/sweeteners and dairy (though some cheese is okay).
- Encourages consuming fruits and low-starch vegetables.
- Eating lean sources of protein
As you can see, these two diets are vastly different from one another. And though one is more focused for IBD patients (at least that is what it claims), both had amazing results in this study. So how did they conduct this research and measure the results?
The DINE CD study
The study broke up 200 participants with mild to moderate CD on stable medication into 2 groups. One group followed the SCD and the other followed a Mediterranean style diet over the course of 12 weeks. The first 6 weeks, meals were provided and the latter 6 weeks, the participants followed their diets independently. They measured fecal calprotectin response (bowel inflammation marker) and C-Reactive Protein (systemic inflammation marker) in order to determine inflammation. They also looked into symptomatic and clinical remission. What they found was that by week 6 both diets allowed patients to achieve symptomatic remission. What was surprising to me was that the SCD diet was not superior to the Mediterranean diet. The diet that was more specific to IBD and more restrictive wasn’t necessarily better. This gives IBD patients an opportunity to enjoy an easy food lifestyle and also achieve remission! How awesome is that?!
The importance of the food you eat is really taking off in the IBD community, finally.
The Crohn’s and Colitis foundation has even gathered doctors to talk about this exact topic in their webinar series this past week (6/17/21). This is something I have been passionate about since I made a lifestyle change back in 2017. I had immediate results and got myself into endoscopic remission with virtually no symptoms. Don’t let doctors tell you that diet and stress do not affect your disease. It’s just not true, and we finally have results to prove it.
This webinar is a great listen if you are looking for direction in regards to what to eat. It provides great substitutes for the foods that are most commonly avoided with people who have IBD. The main ones being red meat, gluten, dairy, and fruits/vegetables. When we cut out these foods, we are missing out on important nutrients both macro and micro. This webinar helps to lay out the foods that can be swapped, the importance of things like fiber, informs on other studies that have taken place (though on a smaller scale than this newest one), and resources for nutritionists. The presenters also talk specifically about the DINE CD study, why diet matters, and how medications with the help of diet can bring positive outcomes!
I have one big takeaway from both the DINE CD study and this webinar. Plant based foods are so beneficial for people with IBD along with healthy fats! The most important thing when trying to incorporate more plant foods into your diet is:
- Being aware of your food triggers.
- Understanding that your food triggers may change over time.
What you can eat during a flare or remission may be different. Use this to your advantage when introducing plant foods to help bring you healing! The IBD community is heading in the right direction by bringing awareness to the fact that diet plays a huge role in your journey to remission. It’s taken a long time, but I’m so happy that we have made it here! If you are looking to make changes to your diet, I’m here for you. Reach out to me on Instagram or email!