Under normal circumstances, our immune system does its job of protecting the body from infection. However, in people who suffer from a condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign substances by attacking the cells of the intestines.
During the time the immune system is attacking the cells, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines where they produce chronic inflammation leading to a cascade of various symptoms.
IBDs are complex, multifactorial disorders in which the body loses its tolerance to its gut microorganisms. It is estimated 1.4 million people in the United States have IBD. The peak age of onset is 15 to 30 years, although IBD can occur at any age.
The two most common IBDs are Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Both are conditions characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. They do share many similarities, yet they also have key differences between them.
Diet is not a cause of either CD or UC, and it will not cure a person but paying special attention to diet can help reduce and control IBD symptoms. Keeping a food journal by writing down food eaten helps to identify foods causing distress is a good method for determining foods to eliminate from the diet. Here are a few suggestions to help control symptoms during flare ups:
Both CD and UC have their challenges and complications, yet a person can still lead a full, happy and productive life. Finding a healthcare professional who is experienced treating IBDs will help maintain health, and they can connect the individual with others having the same condition to lend support.