[Rohith S. is a Crohnology member.]
At 64 years old, I find myself in probably the best health of my life — at least as far as the state of my Crohn’s. I believe my diet has made all the difference.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s nine years ago, after having gut issues all my life. My diagnosis came only when my symptoms became very severe. I had lost a lot of weight and was not absorbing any nutrients. I battled flares, cramps, pain, bloody stool — but nothing I tried in the past worked any longer.
I went for an outpatient colonoscopy, was informed I had Crohns, and I was not allowed to go home because I was “very ill”. I spent 3 days in hospital — my first time as an inpatient — and stabilized on IV prednisone.
Later, I transitioned to Imuran, and was able to return to normal activity levels. I did very well on Imuran, gained 35 lbs. and stayed on it for 6 years. I was stable, with only occasional flares. So I am eternally grateful I turned a corner in this battle.
However, I was not prepared to medicate for the rest of my life. “Drugs are all we have”, was the response, when I asked to be taken off the meds. My journey of discovery since has not been straightforward, but key to my path to good health has been the availability of information online.
I learned about alternatives to medication, in particular dietary strategies that work for me. I came across the benefits of coconut oil, the evils of processed foods — in particular sugar and white flour. I learned about inflammation, leaky gut, Zonulin, and more. I became intrigued by Elaine Gotschall’s story, the SCD diet, and Natascha Campbell McBride’s similar approach with the GAPS diet.
So what do I do? Essentially, I follow the principles outlined by the Weston Price Foundation (WAPF), which is close to the Paleo approach, or Low Carb High Fat (LCHF). This allowed me to wean off Imuran. I am not just symptom-free for 2 years now, but actually in better shape than I have ever been. I am not advocating this will work for everyone; all I know is that it works for me!
The main tenet of these nutrition philosophies is, Eat Real Food. Processed, highly-refined ‘food-like’ products are to be avoided — like the plague! There are variations, but each of us has to find whatever works best by evaluating the effects, by trial and error. I now avoid refined grains, eat about 60% good saturated fats and lots of organic green veggies in juices and salads. I also make real kefir (a yogurt drink) and fermented veggies, such as kimchi. These provide probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins, to keep things humming.
Even more interesting is the effect of this lifestyle on others with a variety of ailments. I have persuaded friends to adopt similar regimes: I have a diabetic friend whose sugar levels are now close to normal and is now off all his meds; another friend has lost over 60lbs (and counting); one no longer has IBD symptoms and is also off all her meds; yet another has osteopenia apparently reversed, much to the surprise of her physician.
As I said, I do not think for a minute this is for everyone. Medication is obviously important, but there is surely room for a dietary approach, and eliminating highly-refined, processed foods can only help. There is an increasing awareness that we all need nutritious, real food to sustain life and importantly, to thrive.
[Editor’s note: This is a guest post; the experience and opinions are the author’s. Diet is a very particular thing for many IBD patients, but dietary interventions are among the most successful as reported by Crohnology.com members. We previously reported the medical evidence on diets for IBD. If you would like to guest post here, email firstname.lastname@example.org]