Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition affecting the lower end of the small intestine and parts of the large intestine (colon). Common symptoms include bloody stools, diarrhea with abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, malabsorption, weight loss, and bloating. Though the cause of Crohn’s is not established in mainstream medicine, integrative holistic doctors are clear it is a diet related disorder. Unfortunately conventional medical treatment by medical doctors and registered dieticians fails to emphasize the use of restricted diets and nutritional supplements.
Of prime importance to sufferers of intestinal disorders is reading the book “Breaking the Viscous Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall. This invaluable book describes the “carbohydrate specific diet”. There are many books available that expound on this principle with recipes and diet plans. Thousands of people have found relief and reversal of Crohn’s and IBS by totally avoiding flour products. If at all oat flour may be tolerated. Besides the gluten-gliadin connection recent research presented at the May 2013 conference on “Energy” for The Institute for Functional Medicine revealed the harmful effects of zonulin on the gut. Zonulin is a chemical released by gliadin, one of the primary components of gluten. Gluten is a compound found in grains such as wheat and spelt. Dr. Alesio Fasano, M.D. discovered zonulin. To simplify what zonulin does- it controls the body’s tolerance/immune response to nonself antigens. “When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extra intestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders [cancer] can occur”. In other words the components of gluten cause an inflammatory response in the intestinal tract. An expression of increased intestinal permeability is called “leaky gut syndrome”. Chemokine receptor CXCR3 is the receptor for specific gliadin peptides that cause zonulin release and subsequent increase in intestinal permeability-leaky gut. This may be occurring in 80% of the population. Though celiac disease occurs in about 1 of the population, wheat reactions appear far more common. So lack of full-blown celiac is not the same as not reacting to gluten (gliadin). As chronic stimulation of zonulin, through ingesting grains like wheat, causes “leaky gut”, it is no surprise that there appears to be an association with almost all chronic diseases, especially auto-immune disease. This is clearly the connection with the labeled auto-immune disease Chrohn’s.
To further compound the ill effects of wheat, in America wheatb is hybridized, which dramatically increases gluten (read gliadin) content. Wheat flour is overconsumed in American diets and leads to chronic disruption in immune response. This further leads to much of the chronic disease now suffered by western societies.
Holistic integrative doctors and nutritionists empahzize the use of nutritional supplements; besides avoidance of harmful foods. These supplements may prevent and reduce the number of flare-ups of the disease, improve health of the intestinal cells, improve nutrient absorption, and produce other desirable health effects.
In the next part of this article I will delineate many nutritional aids for Crohn’s Disease, other inflammatory gut-issues and general immune booster agents.