Going Herbal with your Gut

Going Herbal for your GutIf you or someone you care about has Crohn’s disease, you are likely already aware of the dietary restrictions that come with this diagnosis. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is marked by chronic inflammation in the large intestine. Many dietary triggers can cause flare-ups of inflammation in the colon, ultimately leading to severe abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloody stool and other symptoms.

Even those who don’t struggle with dietary problems often turn to herbs and vitamins to supplement their regular diet. This habit is often essential for those who struggle with Crohn’s, as IBD can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. Using supplements can help you meet optimal nutritional levels to reduce the severity of the condition as well as your risk for nutritional deficiencies.

However, just as with all other aspects of the Crohn’s diet, finding a good herbal supplement takes a bit of work. Before you purchase a supplement you need to make sure it features the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Your colorectal specialist can help you with this process.

Here are a few herbs and vitamins that may benefit your diet as you struggle with Crohn’s disease:

  • Probiotics: These supplements contain forms of good bacteria that play a positive role in digestion, even helping to reduce inflammation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in sources like fish and nuts, omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and can reduce the pain associated with Crohn’s disease.
  • Vitamin D: This nutrient plays a role in the immune system and the reduction of inflammation. In addition to finding it in dairy and eggs, vitamin D is produced naturally by the sun, meaning this nutrient can be absorbed without any dietary supplements.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A supports the immune system, so it helps to regulate good health throughout the body. It is found in sources like sweet potatoes, leafy greens and carrots, but many people with Crohn’s benefit from taking vitamin A through a multivitamin as well.
  • Zinc: This nutrient promotes tissue and bone health and actually helps your body to heal, making it an essential aspect of your diet while struggling with Crohn’s disease. Zinc is found in certain forms of shellfish, cereals and dark chocolate.

While ingesting the proper levels of these nutrients can benefit your health, too much of any of the above nutrients can have negative health consequences. Talk with your colorectal specialist before adding any supplements to your diet.