There is a common theme that I hear and read about coming from conventional medical doctors. That message is they lack and wish to receive more training regarding nutrition. In addition, there is frustration by both doctors and patients with the current insurance model of 15 minutes per patient. That’s not enough time for the patient to communicate all of their symptoms and for the doctor to properly diagnose the problem. This is especially true when it comes to chronic diseases and there is much literature out there sharing these two messages. Patients are having to visit multiple specialists in an effort to find relief from their symptoms.
Another issue with our current medical system is more research money is spent on treating symptoms and drugs to treat those symptoms than on research for creating optimal health. But those drugs come with a host of side effects and are usually quite expensive. I have personal knowledge of this, as the oncologist couldn’t explain how my mother developed breast cancer, he could only prescribe medications to treat her symptoms and try to eradicate the cancer. This failed with a tremendous financial burden.
Early adoption of new research is slow to be accepted by medical professionals. It wasn’t all that long ago that stomachs were removed because of bleeding ulcers instead of using antibiotics or that unwashed hands of the delivery doctors were causing the death of mothers after their babies were born. The cause was puerperal sepsis. Even the prevention of scurvy, a fatal disease to sailors, took 40+ years for the Royal Navy to adopt. So why should we think it’s different now?
I recently heard of a young man who was told by his surgeon that his Crohn’s disease was not diet related. I am troubled by this as the disease is also referred to as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We know that 70% of our immune system resides in the gut and the consumption of grains causes inflammation (more). So why would the surgeon say that Crohn’s disease is not diet related?
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America reported the following statistics for Crohn’s disease:
• Approximately 30% of patients who have surgery experience recurrence of their symptoms within three years and up to 60% will have recurrence within ten years.
• In 2010, there were 187,000 hospitalizations.
• In 2004, there were 1.1 million ambulatory care visits (visits made to office-based health care providers, outpatient clinics, and emergency departments).
• In 2004, there were 1.8 million prescriptions written for medications.
• Approximately, 780,000 Americans currently have Crohn’s disease with approximately 33,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year.
• The estimated annual direct cost of IBD (both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) in the United States is estimated to be between $11 billion to $28 billion.
• The diagnosis can occur at any age but usually seen between the ages of 15 and 35.
According to Dr. Richard I. Horowitz:
• Digestive disorders have been cited as the second leading cause of absenteeism from the workplace.
• An NIH study says that sixty to seventy million people have diagnosable digestive disorders in the United States; and over a quarter of a million people die from GI diseases (including cancer) yearly.
The symptoms for Crohn’s disease are: persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain, and constipation. Also, there could be delayed growth and development in younger children. General symptoms may include: loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats and loss of normal menstrual cycle.
According to Dr. Amy Myers the typical medications prescribed for Crohn’s disease and their side effects are:
• Prednisone which can cause: nausea, vomiting, heartburn, irregular heartbeat, depression, increased blood sugar and possible allergic reaction. Like the disease it can also cause fever, sweating, muscle pain or cramps, and loss of appetite.
• The side effects for the drug Humira are: tuberculosis, hepatitis B, cancer, heart failure, numbness, tingling, nausea, headaches to name a few.
According to Dr. Terry Wahls an unrecognized gluten (from grains) and/or casein (from milk) sensitivity has been associated with a wide variety of health problems including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). She states “that once they go gluten- and dairy-free, their abdominal discomfort dramatically improves.”
According to Paul Jaminet, PH.D and Shou-Ching Jaminet, PH.D. “Infections of the small intestine, which typically cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Crohn’s disease, and acid reflux/GERD, will typically benefit from avoidance of fructose and other simple sugars. Since food passes through the small intestine fairly quickly, simple sugars are the most available to small intestinal pathogens. Glucose is the least dangerous sugar, since it is well absorbed by the human cells of the small intestine.” Also, legumes (such as beans and peanuts) which are rich in toxins can be dangerous if not properly detoxified.
According to both doctors Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades “A diet high in grains can cause a fermentation in the intestine that can, in turn, cause inflammation that weakens the tight junctions between the cells that line the tract. From this damage, “leaks” develop that allow prohibited substances-such as incompletely digested plant proteins-through the barrier.
These plant proteins, called lectins, cause trouble once absorbed into the bloodstream because their structure is so similar to the structure of body proteins; some of them are like the proteins in joint surface tissues, others like the filtering apparatus of the kidneys, and still others like the covering of nerves. Because they are the same but foreign, the lectins attract the attention of the immune-defense system, which attacks them; unfortunately, once stimulated, the immune system may then mistakenly attack the body tissues they resemble, causing a host of disorders ranging from readily identifiable diseases (such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune kidney disorders) to less obvious problems ranging from rashes to allergies to asthma.
All plants have proteins that can behave as lectins, but most are not overtly harmful. The worst offenders are the lectins from grains, especially wheat and corn, but also problematic are those from dried beans, such as kidney beans. Removal of these foods from the diet may be important to us all, but it is especially important for people at risk for autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, glomerulonephritis, and, potentially, others).”
Dr. Jefferey S. Bland has a four step R program to address the fundamental imbalance in the physiological process known as assimilation-elimination.
Step 1: Remove all food allergens or food substances that produce sensitivities like: grain, dairy, soy, citrus, peanuts, eggs and shellfish.
Step 2: Replace by taking a digestive enzyme supplement before meals to improve digestion and absorption.
Step 3: Reinoculate by taking a probiotic supplement with the organisms of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus which has proven safe and effective for improving digestive function.
Step 4: Repair by taking a supplement of nutrients that can support the healing of the intestinal mucosal barrier. “The most important of these are zinc (15 milligrams), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5, 500 milligrams), omega-3 fish oils (2 to 3 grams), and the amino acids L-glutamine (5 grams) and magnesium (200 milligrams), along with a B-complex nutritional supplement.”
While it may take years for common agreement and support by all medical practitioners, I believe there is substantial evidence that diet plays a more significant role in all autoimmune disorders including Crohn’s disease. If you suffer with such a disease, find yourself being shuffled from specialist to specialist to resolve your symptoms, then I would encourage you to launch your own investigation. Perhaps even contact one of the doctors, I have quoted from above, to help you. I wish you much success and wellness!
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