If you suffer from the digestive pain, bloating, and cramping of Crohn’s disease, then you are not alone.
Around 1.6 million Americans have an inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s, are ailments that affect the intestinal tract. The direct cause of your disease may be linked to genetics, your environment, or the poor function of your immune system.
Therapies and treatments for Crohn’s can vary depending on your symptoms and their severity. However, you can expect that your treatment will include a restrictive diet. Dairy foods should be reduced significantly. If you want to understand why you should stay away from dairy, then keep reading.
It Can Cause Inflammation
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, but it most often causes inflammation along the small intestine and colon. Swelling occurs across all four layers of the intestinal wall. This characteristic is one aspect of the disease that separates it from other inflammatory bowel disorders. When the swelling develops, the mucous membrane inside the intestinal tract, called the mucosa, is unable to properly secrete digestive enzymes.
As the outer intestinal tissues inflame, they press on the abdominal cavity and cause parts of the intestinal tract to narrow. This narrowing creates a great deal of discomfort, and treatments are geared towards swelling reduction.
If you choose to eat cheese, ice cream, yogurt, or any other dairy product during an active flare up, then you can increase inflammation. If you are undergoing treatments to minimize swelling, then this inflammation can counteract the treatment and the discomfort can worsen.
Dairy foods cause inflammation in a variety of ways. When milk or ice cream is broken down, the casein A1 protein is converted into a compound called BCM7. BCM7 triggers inflammation in the small intestine. The compound can also disrupt the immune system and the function of certain hormones. Since Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, it is wise to stay away from any food or chemical that affects the immune system directly.
If you do consume dairy, then you may trigger the immune system to overreact and attack the cells of the digestive tract.
It May Worsen Diarrhea
Diarrhea is one of the most bothersome symptoms you may experience during a Crohn’s flare up. Not only is it unpleasant, but it can lead to malnutrition and dehydration. The problem develops due to the swelling across the small intestines. The tissues absorb water freely through a process called osmosis. Water moves through the spaces between the cells of the tissues and solid waste moves along to the colon.
However, when the intestines are swollen, the spaces between the cells become smaller. Less water can be absorbed and much of the fluid moves to the colon with the rest of the waste.
If you experience diarrhea, then eating dairy foods can worsen the problem. As dairy increases inflammation, less water can be absorbed. Also, about 65% of the population has some form of lactose intolerance-the intestinal tract does not release enough of the lactase enzyme to digest all of the lactose you consume. This intolerance can cause undigested dairy foods to move through the intestines and contribute to diarrhea.
Dairy foods contain a great deal of natural sugars as well. Sugar can lead to diarrhea by pulling water into the intestinal tract. It can also prevent the intestines from absorbing as much water as they should, and sugar can lead to cramping and the production of gas.
If you have questions and concerns about Crohn’s disease, your diet, and how to reduce symptoms, then fill out our form to become a patient at Integrative Brain and Body.