Crohn’s Disease and How Avocado Can Make a Difference Posted on 19 Oct 10:53 , 1 comment
You have just heard the words Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease from your doctor for the first time. To make matters worse, he said you have it and that it’s a chronic disease. This means you are going to have to learn to live with it for the rest of your life. However, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. By making some simple changes, you can continue to live a full and normal life.
To help you make sense of Crohn’s Disease and the treatment thereof, we’ve put together a guide to answer all the important questions you might have. We will also explain why food, and specifically avocado, should be your main weapon to fight the disease. You will learn how something as simple as ordering an avocado box can go a long way in relieving your symptoms and maintaining good health. Here’s how an avocado delivery can change your life.
The Avocado – Superfood Against Crohn’s Disease
Yes, the avocado deserves to be singled out. More and more patients with Crohn’s disease are talking about the benefits a diet high in avocado is having on their overall health. One of them is the blogger Ragamuffin, a “neuroscience and chemistry addict” with a PhD who has been writing about his battle between following an academic career and living with Crohn’s disease.
“Soluble fiber and easily digested raw fats are the best friends a Crohnie can have – and the avocado exudes these,” is how he sums up the benefits of avocado on his diet.
“The reason why it (avocado) is always one of the first solid foods I reintroduce after a flare is a widely known secret my pediatric nutritionist shared with me: vitamin A.” Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant. Avocados contain carotenoids, the precursors to vitamin A. A study where avocado was included in meals containing other carotenoid-rich foods, showed that two to six times more carotenoids were absorbed as a result of the added avocado. It also enhanced the conversion of specific carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, into active vitamin A.
Ragamuffin considers avocado to be the most helpful food following a flare. It not only helps with the absorption of nutrients, but the water-soluble fiber in the fruit transforms in a fermentation process which gelatinizes and helps roughage move along in the digestive tract (Rose et al, 2007).
Ragamuffin is not the only one reporting about the health benefits of avocado. More and more studies are confirming the fact that the fruit contains a myriad of nutrients that are extremely good for you.
The fruit in an avocado box is nutrient dense. One cup cubed avocado provides more than 20% of the daily recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of the following: Pantothenic Acid (42%), Fibre (40%), Vitamin K (35%), Copper (31%), Folate (30%), Vitamin B6 (23%), Potassium (21%), Vitamin E (21%) and Vitamin C (20%).
The texture alone is an indication that avocados are high in fat. In fact, fat accounts for about 80% of the total number of calories in an avocado. The good news is that it’s mostly monounsaturated fat – almost 15 of the 22 grams of fat found in one cup of avocado is monounsaturated. This type of fat is proved to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular health.
In addition to the high percentage of monounsaturated fats, there are other unique fat qualities attributed to avocados. They provide us with a wide range of phytonutrients, including phytosterols. These are a special group of fats with important anti-inflammatory benefits. Imagine arriving home from school and have your avocado delivery, with all its superfood properties, waiting for you.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The other is ulcerative colitis. IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, with Crohn’s disease affecting any part of the tract from the mouth to the anus. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Association of America (CCFA), the disease was named after Dr. Burril B. Crohn, a leading gastroenterologist who described the disease for the first time way back in 1932. Today, an estimated 10 to 70 people out of 100,000 are living with Crohn’s disease, although some studies in North America have shown a prevalence of as high as 200 per 100,000 people. In general, IBD affects approximately 1,6 million Americans. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to be diagnosed with Crohn’s, although children and teenagers may also develop the disease. In fact, it is estimated that at least 80,000 of IBD patients in the U.S. are under 18.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown. What is important to know is that there is nothing that you did or didn’t do to get the disease. It is also not contagious. Specialists at the University of Maryland Medical Center sites research that blames a faulty immune system response that is triggered by a virus or bacteria. Furthermore, genetics have been proven to play a role, with about 25% of people with Crohn’s disease having a relative also suffering from it. Lastly, a diet high in saturated fats and processed foods may lead to Crohn’s disease. In many cases, a combination of different factors leads to the development of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease symptoms are based on the location and extent of the inflammation in the digestive tract. That means they differ from person to person. However, the most common symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea. Other typical symptoms may include:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Anemia (low red blood cell levels)
- Floating stools (as a result of poor digestion of fat)
Getting a proper diagnosis from a medical doctor is crucial if you suffer from any of these symptoms. Your doctor will most likely start with a thorough physical examination and take blood and stool samples to test for Crohn’s disease. The blood tests may show anemia, while your stool can give an indication of rectal bleeding or infection of the rectum or colon. It may also be necessary for one of the following procedures: colonoscopy (to take pictures of the colon), capsule endoscopy (to take pictures of the digestive tract), barium enema (looking at the large intestine with an x-ray) or CT scans.
Treating Crohn’s Disease
The bad news is that no cure for Crohn’s disease has been found up to date. The good news is that many people with Crohn’s disease live active lives by controlling their symptoms with different treatment options. Treatment is based on three pillars: (1) minimizing inflammation, (2) bringing about and maintaining remission, and (3) preventing complications.
Conventional treatment usually includes drugs, biologic therapies (boosting the immune system) and an emphasis on nutrition. But while treatment is often a matter of trial and error, you will learn that diet is crucial in your fight against Crohn’s disease. An avocado delivery to your front door, full of premium organic avocados fresh from the farm, is one of the easiest to come by and most important weapons in your arsenal. Let’s find out how your treatment can benefit from an avocado box.
The Importance of Nutrition in Treating Crohn’s Disease
Although there is no scientific consensus about the role of food in the development of Crohn’s disease, we do know that certain foods relieve the symptoms of the disease while others tend to exacerbate them.
Researchers of the Queen Mary University in London, under the leadership of Dr. Harween Dogra, are currently investigating the effects of the foods eaten by children with IBD. “Nutritional therapies that are safer than existing medicines, with fewer side effects, and that control the disease without the need for frequent blood tests, could improve the quality of life of children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis considerably,” said Dr. Dogra in a statement.
Let’s take a look at the list of foods likely to be included in the diet of someone with Crohn’s disease:
- Avocado – full in highly beneficial fats and other nutrients such as potassium, B vitamins and vitamin E (as described in more detail below). Imagine all the wholesome goodness in one avocado box. Not to mention that your avocado delivery arrives straight from the farm.
- Almond Milk – a good alternative to milk products for patients who are lactose-intolerant.
- Eggs – a good source of iron and vitamin D - nutrients that people with Crohn’s disease are often deficient in.
- Salmon – rich in inflammatory-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
- Vegetable-based soups – easily digestible nutritional powerhouses.
- Poultry – excellent source of protein.
- Tropical Fruits – banana, mango and papaya contain more soluble than insoluble fibers.
So go on, order an avocado box and get on with your life, living it to the fullest. Here are some general diet and lifestyle tips to start working on while you count the hours for your avocado delivery to arrive.
- Get moving! Exercise can help prevent stress and depression that often accompanies Crohn’s disease.
- Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke is a risk factor for Crohn’s disease. A number of patients have reported that it worsens their symptoms.
- Avoid highly processed, refined foods such as white breads and pastas.
- Manage your IBD by setting goals and working towards them.
- Keep track of your symptoms and how they are affected by nutrition by writing down what foods you eat in a journal.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat smaller meals more often.
- Avoid greasy or fried foods as far as possible.