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Primal Nutrition and Crohn's Disease

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  • Primal Nutrition and Crohn's Disease

    tl;dr skip down
    Hello all. This is my first post on these forums but I've been going paleolithic for about a month now. About 11 months ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease (although I had been experiencing off-an-on symptoms for about a year prior). Since then, the symptoms had been progressing in severity, and most of the standard drugs stopped working.

    I went from a fit 5'11'' 180lbs to an emaciated and weak 135 lbs. Accompanying this transformation was a crippling fatigue - I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes and slept 14-16 hours a day. All of the time I was awake was essentially devoted to classes and schoolwork - hardly a life.

    After a prednisone induced remission (my first remission since diagnosis), it seemed my next option was the "high severity" drugs which leave the user's immune system crippled and come with all sorts of nasty side effects. I simply wasn't ready for that, so, with symptoms already returning, I began researching diets other than the standard low fiber, low fat doctors recommend. I had already tried gluten-free which helped a little but was too restrictive for a college student - also, no gluten just meant I was subbing in rice and beans in place of bread. I don't remember how I stumbled across the paleo diet - but as a biology major, the logic just clicked.

    I started the diet about a month ago as I tapered off of the last doses of steroids. After about a week, I had vastly improved even over where I was with full-dose steroids. And, with the exception of a pizza-and-beer induced 3-day mini flare, I have been essentially symptom free. This diet has changed my life and has helped me get a seemingly unstoppable disease under control. I'm back up to 145 lbs and have enough energy to even work out a little bit. Hopefully I'll be back to 100% soon - though I'm a bit worried about permanent loss of muscle mass.

    tl;dr: Start here
    But here's was burns me up: this diet runs counter to so much of what the medical community recommends for crohn's sufferers. Read the dietary guidelines and it's all about low fiber, easily digestible foods. Rice and mashed potatoes. Limited protein, no fat, no fruit, and no nuts. I almost wonder if the diagnosis itself didn't make the disease worse since my early diet attempts following the diagnosis mirrored these recommendations. The worst part is the glare I get from other sufferers when I dare recommend this diet. It's like something out of the twilight zone - a potential solution is there in plain sight and nobody cares; everybody has been brainwashed by our grain-centric way of eating. The diet is easy to follow. The closer I stick to it, the better I feel, but 80/20 is enough to keep me relatively healthy and it's no sweat, even in college, to maintain that.

    So my question to you guys is this: how do I make people listen?

  • #2
    I agree with you. I had a digestive disorder called gastroparesis for years. The diet prescribed to me by all docs and nutritionist I met with to help "manage the disease" were simple starches...potatoes, breads, rice, pasta, etc. And to think, MOST people who have gastroparesis are diabetics (although I am not). Can you imagine recommending that diet to a diabetic? It's very frustrating. Using medication to get the disease under control and then changing my diet completely eliminated the issue for me and I've been medication free (and symptom free) for almost 3 years now.

    I'm glad you're feeling better. My ex-boss had Crohn's and I watch him long enough to see that his level of symptoms was directly related to his diet, exercise and stress levels.


    • #3
      Hey chief welcome!! I too am a fellow sufferer, diagnosed 4 years ago, suffering for 6 - 2 years to diagnose!! Sheesh...

      I follow something similar to PB in the Anabolic Diet, been on it 2 years and completely turned my life around, haven't flaired once in the last 2 years. I'm more than happy on the AD but could not follow PB totally as a lot of the foods on PB are trigger foods for a flair up - nuts, seeded fruit and veg, tough fibrous fruit and veg are also out. I can cope with some greens - spinach broccoli cauliflower brussel sprouts and mushrooms are fine as long as it's well cooked. Following a high fat moderate protein low carb (albeit cyclical carb) diet is the best thing I did, really benefits my training and health all in one!!

      I've given up on trying to educate people or enlighten them, if someone asks and they will listen with an open mind I'll gladly give them my time but all too often that'ss not the case, the negativity and closed minded narrow opinions of others just wore me down to a point where I thought sod it!! I take comfort in that this helps me achieve optimum health and fitness and that's all that matters to me end of the day!!

      Take it easy dude ^_^


      • #4
        This thread may be helpful.
        I have Chrohn's too. Was diagnosed in 2003 senior year of High School. Never lost weight from it though. Been looking into the Specific Carb Diet. I'm still on Asacol. I
        My journal where I attempt to overcome Chrohns and make good food as well


        • #5
          just seconding a reading of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet book. Its concise and accessible with many references.

          how do I make people listen?
          People unaffected by digestive problems probably won't listen nor care too much. A doctor might be influenced by a book like the SCD one, just depends on the doctor.

          for people who do have digestive troubles, i think just giving them a tangible book like the SCD one would be best. you can talk about biochemistry and diet and evolution and scientific studies all you like.. but people i think are much more responsive to physical, tangible things they can get their hands on.. probably aides in giving the ideas added legitimacy or something.

          saying things like.. "i did X, and was cured of my disease Y" i don't think is very influential, because people rationalize the situation with things like 'maybe that problem/solution applies to his body' or 'ok i believe that but it doesn't apply to me'.


          • #6
            You don't make people listen. You can't. All you can do is SHOW them how much BETTER you are because of your improved living habits. I was diagnosed with Crohn's in '06 and shortly afterward started the SCD - very similar to Primal and very easily adaptable to Primal. It just works.

            As for fruits and vegetables - I get plenty of both by cooking, peeling, removing seeds if necessary... For nuts I either have nut butters or nut flour (but rarely as I find too much of the omega-6 fat in them sets me up for other problems...). I can even eat raw fruits provided they are peeled. If you want to eat raw veggies you can always invest in a good blender - I've got a Vitamix that I make salads with

            I can't speak for everyone, but the idea with the SCD is that, over time, most (not necessarily all) people recover to a point where they can tolerate some amount of raw fruits and veg. in their diet. Same with nuts. If one has strictures or other issues that would cause you to avoid eating nuts and seeds, then that's something you have to consider, but... You never know! And since most people don't really CHEW their food - maybe we'd do better with nuts if we chewed them until they were nearly liquid??

            When you find something that works, you stick with it. I once heard a quote that you can't heal one body system without healing ALL body systems. healing isn't localized - it's all over. How can something that allows our intestines to heal be bad for the rest of our body systems?? It doesn't make sense.

            Good luck on your healing journey


            • #7
              I've never had issues with nuts I don't think. Although I'm not ready to wean them out yet.
              My journal where I attempt to overcome Chrohns and make good food as well


              • #8
                Originally posted by Frawst View Post
                though I'm a bit worried about permanent loss of muscle mass.
                Huh? Aww, that's cute. Why on earth would you be afraid of that?
                You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


                • #9
                  Hi Frawst, I just want to offer my regards and best wishes to you! I'm glad to hear that your situation is improving, and I hope that the improvements will continue. I have recently, within the past two weeks, had abdominal pain resulting from colon inflammation. The likelihood of bacterial infection is low, and I expect to be diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the very near future. I'm glad to hear that your dietary changes have improved your condition, and I will be exploring Mark Sisson's recommendations now.

                  Originally posted by Frawst View Post
                  Hopefully I'll be back to 100% soon - though I'm a bit worried about permanent loss of muscle mass.
                  You're young, and if your health keeps improving, I can't think of any reason why you can't recover your previous strength and/or muscle levels with the appropriate training.

                  But as for your question: I'm not sure that you *can* make people listen. You have good intentions and probably very good information, but it is extremely difficult to displace firmly ingrained beliefs. At some point, many people begin to doubt the quality of their beliefs and begin exploring alternatives. Before that time, they may not be receptive to anything you or I present to them. I suppose that is unfortunate, if your information is good. On the other hand, this stubbornness can protect us from all manner of really stupid ideas.

                  Best of luck!
                  Last edited by imnotbncre8ive; 06-14-2010, 05:21 PM.