With World IBD day (19th May) just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness for the estimated 300,000 individuals in the UK who live with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Nutritional Therapist and Crohn’s sufferer Jenna Farmer runs a blog about living a healthy lifestyle with the disease (www.abalancedbelly.co.uk) and shares with us her top tips on how to manage life with IBD.
Being hydrated is really important with IBD since many individuals can get dehydrated quickly during a flare-up. Drinking plenty of water is vital but avoid processed energy drinks or rehydration solutions where possible. Most contain lots of added salt and sugar. Coconut water is also a good choice since it contains plenty of potassium and can help replace electrolytes.
Living with IBD can be extremely stressful:it’s estimated that people with crohn’s disease are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety. Some sufferers find meditation can be helpful and there’s plenty of apps that can help with this- Headspace is a great place to start.
Turmeric is nature’s anti-inflammatory and definitely worth exploring. Some small studies have suggested turmeric can help with symptoms and in some cases lead to a reduction of medication. Try adding turmeric to your cooking with a pinch of black pepper (this helps with the absorption of this wonder spice!).
Stock up on probiotic foods
We all know that probiotics are good for gut health but they can also cause issues for some patients with IBD as their bacteria balance is easily disrupted. Since many patients are frequently treated with antibiotics, it is really important they do their best to have some form of good bacteria. Fermented foods are a good idea, such as sauerkraut and kefir.
There’s no doubt exercise is beneficial but high intensity exercise such as cardio might not be suitable for everyone with IBD. Gentle forms of exercise such as yoga and swimming may, however, may be more helpful. Interestingly, Crohn’s and Colitis UK are supporting research into the impact on exercise in IBD patients so hopefully this will offer some more insight on the best forms of exercise.
Learn about Fibre
Fibre is a contentious issue for those of us with IBD and can sometimes feel like the enemy. It can be worth looking into the two different types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre. Whilst eating a variety of fibre rich food is important, most find soluble fibre easier to deal with. Think sweet potatoes, rice and squash.
Find online support
It’s so important to talk to others going through the same condition. There are lots of support networks out there for IBD and many facebook groups too. I run a facebook called Healthy Living with IBD
Some patients are prescribed a liquid diet when in a bad flare as this can give the digestive system a rest. This is why some patients respond well to nutrient dense liquids such as bone broth and juicing.
Caffeine is known for its laxative effect so switching to herbal tea might help. Peppermint and Fennel are particularly soothing while Chamomile can help with relaxation and sleep.
Keep A Food Diary
While diet can certainly not cure IBD, keeping track of foods you eat can be really beneficial. Everybody is different but common triggers are gluten, dairy, fatty foods or highly processed foods.
For more tips and tricks on living with IBD, head to Jenna’s blog, . Her book: Managing IBD, A Balanced Approach to Inflammatory Bowel Disease is available now from Amazon.