Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Post Healing Diet

I've been debating on how to explain the diet that has been working to keep me from having a flare up. I think I'll explain it two different ways. I'll explain the type of foods to eat and to avoid, but then in a follow up blog, I'll actually list the food. This blog will explain why certain types of food is good or bad for Crohn's.

Avoid The Following

Nutrient Deficient Foods: We need to eat foods that are rich in minerals in order to digest properly. Digestive enzymes are made by the body from the nutrients in the food we eat.  So if you eat foods that are nutrient deficient, the food will be harder to digest because you won't produce the appropriate level of digestive enzymes needed to digest the food without aggravating your digestive system. This means that candy, pastries, ice cream, etc., are not good for your digestive tract.

Excessive Cooked Foods: Consider that we are the only ones of God's creatures that cook their food, and we are the only ones that have widespread illness. There is a correlation. Protein, vitamins and minerals are virtually destroyed by cooking.Cooking actually makes food toxic. Ultimately, cooking food makes it nutrient deficient and for all of the reasons noted above, nutrient deficient foods make the digestive system work too hard for proper digestion and this can cause a flare up. I make it a habit to not eat more than one cooked meal a day.

Poor Food Combinations: If you eat foods in poor combinations, you can trap foods in the stomach longer than it is necessary and the food can spoil in your stomach. Then as the spoiled food enters your intestines it will likely cause inflammation which leads to a flare up. So eat foods in proper combinations or in order of the quickest digestive foods first. Eat melons alone. They digest very quickly and leave the stomach within 20-30 minutes. If you eat them with other foods the slower digested food will trap the melon in the stomach longer than it is supposed to be there causing the melon to ferment. So melon eat alone. All other fruit you can combine with other fruit, or non-starching vegetables. Starchy vegetables only eat with other vegetables. Don't eat protein with starchy vegetables because they require acidic and alkaline enzymes respectively, and these enzymes together neutralize each other so your intestines have to work harder to digest them than when they have digestive enzymes to help. Eat protein with non-starchy vegetables.

Don't Overeat or Eat Constantly: Both of these actions over works your intestines and this can lead to inflammation which can cause a flare up. Your digestive tract needs to rest between meals.

Other Irritants: Stay away from spicy food, salt, gluten (an undigestable protein), caffeine, and any other stimulant. If the food is spicy to your tongue it will aggravate your intestines. Salt is corrosive to your body.. Digestive enzymes don't work on gluten, so it is only your chewing that digests gluten. Clearly this can aggravate your intestines as they try to digest something that cannot be digested. And stimulants deplete your digestive nerve energy. Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco do this as well.

Mucous Forming Foods:  Cooked meats, dairy, soy, beans and grains are typically mucous forming and this leads to constipation and play a role in Crohn's. I have elimiated all animal products and eat cooked beans and grains in moderation. I will typically only have cooked beans or grains (quinoa is the best - gluten free as an alternative) once per week.

Acid Forming Foods:  This is really the biggest thing to avoid from my experience. We have metabolic waste acids throughout our body and we require alkaline minerals to neutralize it. If we eat too many acid forming foods, our bodies have to work extra hard to neutralize the acid and it resorts to our calcium reserves in our bones for neutralization, which cal lead to osteoporosis. A constant acid environment stresses the body and depletes nerve energy which is needed in order to prevent a Crohn's flare up. Below are the most common acid forming foods:

  • All animal products
  • All grains and flour except amaranth, millet and quinoa
  • All beans except lima, peas, green beans, soybeans and sprouted beans
  • All nuts except almonds, chestnuts, coconuts, pine nuts and sesame
  • White sugar, processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Coffee and alcohol

Excessive Fat:  Cooked fats are a prime cause of Crohn's. It causes diarrhea accompanied by inflammation, triggering a flare up. 

Meat:  Meat, including fish, is the biggest cause of Crohn's because it is mostly indigestible and it poisons the intestines, bloodstream and tissues while acidifying the body. Even infrequent meat eating can trigger a flare up.  Meat is especially harmful to the colon and is a known cause of colon cancer. Animal food is acid-forming, mucous-forming, high in fat, lacks fiber and low in water content. They require an overload of energy to digest, and usually spoil in the intestines. If you want to live symptom free, you will have to eliminate meat from your diet. 

Increase the Following

Water:  Distilled, purified and spring water does wonders for cleansing the intestines. Drink plenty of water as it also helps increase nerve energy. 

Fruits and Vegetables: Uncooked fruits and vegetables are the best to eat because they help the body produce the levels of digestive enzymes necessary to digest the food properly. They also provide bacteria and fiber needed in order to maintain healthful bacteria in the intestines. Raw fruits and vegetables, when chewed properly, is also the most nutritious. 

Rest:  All healing requires nerve energy, and you replenish your nerve energy when you sleep. I make sure I get ample sleep. Prior to being diagnosed with Crohn's I would only sleep about six hours per day. Now I insist on getting my eight hours a day. It not only keeps me healthy, but it seems to reduce my daily work stress.

Fresh Air and Sunshine: Clean air helps oxygenate your body which clearly adds to your body's healing ability. Also, a few minutes of sunshine a day gives you the vitamin D that you need that you don't get from a meat free diet. 


As a general rule this is my daily diet:

First thing in the morning: I drink about 12 oz of carrot and apple juice. I use four carrots and two apples.

Early Lunch: I typically eat melon: honeydew, cantaloupe or watermelon. I eat a whole honeydew or cantaloupe most of the time, and an equivalent amount of watermelon. I love melons.

Mid Day Juice : I either have more carrot and apple juice or I drink melon juice which I love.

Snacks:  I eat fruit as snacks. Bananas, pears, peaches, nectarines, grapes and cherries are some of my favorite.

Dinner:  I typically eat steamed vegetables including a lot of squash. I often include a sauce that includes some blended tomatoes and some mild herbs such as parsley and cilantro. Tomatoes and mango make a good sauce. 

After Dinner Juice: I don't always have evening juice and when I do, I usually don't have an evening snack, but when I have evening juice I have a green juice which includes romaine, cucumber, red pepper, carrots and apple. This helps with my hemoglobin levels as I've been borderline anemic since I've been diagnosed with Crohn's. 

Evening Snack: I love my banana icecream. I freeze bananas and then blend the frozen bananas with a little coconut water. I add some dates when I want it a little sweeter. I also add cherries or mango if I want a change in the flavor. Instead of this, I'll also eat fruit.

Exceptions: About once to twice per week I treat myself to something other than the what I have noted above.

When eating out, I typically get a salad or I asked for grilled vegetables. A common meal will be vegetarian fajitas. I will only do this no more than once a week. I hold the onions, sour cream and cheese and I ask for corn tortillas. I'll even add black beans if they have it. 

Many times when eating out, I can get a couple of their side dishes as my meal: broccoli, asparagus, baked potato, etc. Something like this wouldn't even be considered an exception and perfectly follows my diet plan.

When having a salad, I tend to get a dressing without milk, such as a balsamic vinaigrette. This can be an aggravant, so I get it on the side and dunk my salad in the dressing just slightly. Both the oil and vinegar must be used in moderation. Again, I don't do this daily, just as a once a week exception.

I'll also have pasta on occasion. Quinoa is my favorite. I've twice now also had gluten free pasta and it seems to be okay. But if I decide to do this it is my once per week cheat. I am not having pasta or beans more than once per week. 

Another treat for me is pizza. Brixx's pizza has a gluten free crust and vegan cheese. I've had this with roasted red peppers, green peppers and mushrooms as my once per week exception as well and my gut seemed fine. 

If there is desert, I will usually only taste one bite of someone else's desert. Deserts simply have too much nutrient poor ingredients and they typically include milk so I only have tastes, and again, I don't do this but at most once per week.

Any time I have grains or beans, or even a taste of desert, I don't eat anything else the rest of the day or at least for six hours. These take longer to digest and aggravate the digestive tract more than fruits and vegetables so I want it fully digested so that the GI tract has a break before it has to work again.

If I make an exception to my daily routine only once per week, then I don't have any issues. However, if I have these exceptions regularly, as I did when I traveled to Florida for several days, then my gut needs some corrective action in order to feel normal again. In those cases, I will water fast for a day, or if it's not that bad, I'll juice for a day. 

When I juice to correct my bad reaction to some food, I usually juice with only apple and carrot juice as well as watermelon juice. Apple and carrot juice is my miracle cure. It seems to fix any bad reaction to any food I've eaten. It has pectin which is very healing and cleansing to the colon and it also acts as a protectant.

Watermelon is highly alkaline so it does very well for neutralizing an acidic environment. 

Additionally, keep in mind that proper chewing may have the most impact on proper digestion than any other factor. So always chew your food in excess. Digestive enzymes are in our saliva. Plus the act of chewing triggers digestive nerve energy. But ultimately, the more you chew, the more you lighten the burden of digestion in your intestines. Overworking your intestines causes inflammation which will lead to a flare up.

So this is what I've been doing for a few months now, and it seems to be working. I have had days that my gut didn't feel quite right, but I immediately go to water or juice depending upon how bad I feel and I nip it in the bud right away. I haven't had a flare up since March. Six months without a flare up; that's amazing. I've been off medication since May, so I have been four full months without a flare up and without medication. I'm thrilled!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's Been A While...

It seems forever since I last blogged. I guess that's good new actually. I have been flare up free since March. Woooo whoooo. I have had some gut discomforts, but small issues that prompt me to juice for a day or two and then the gut feels fine again.

On August 25 I had my annual physical and all my blood work except my hemoglobin was normal. My hemoglobin was 10.8, which is .1 lower than it was a couple of months ago. Basically it's stabilized, but I'm still borderline anemic. I haven't gone to my gastroenterologist lately simply because there hasn't been a need to go, thank goodness. But ultimately, I need to juice with more greens and eat more salad to help improve my hemoglobin.

I also went on a road trip to Key West since I've last blogged. Rode my motorcycle the entire way. The trip took over a week. I typiclly had fruit for breakfast and lunch and then ate at a restaurant for dinner. Dinners were usually some type of mixed vegetables and/or a salad. I may have actually raised my hemoglobin during this trip with as many veggies i ate. I did have some sauces and dressings but in moderation. By the end of the trip my gut definitely was inflamed, but not to the extent of a flare up or even significant symptoms. Again, I went to juicing a couple of days and now I'm back to normal.

When I juice to correct any gut discomfort I usually juice with apple and carrot juice and watermelon juice only. Apples and carrots have pectin which is only digested in the colon. It is healing to the colon.  Watermelon is highly alkaline forming which helps stabilize the acid in an incflamed colon.

I've now been off meds since May and am doing well. I've expanded my diet to include some grains and nuts too. I'll write more soon on the expanded diet but just wanted to write an update since it has been so long. Hope everyone reading this is doing as well as I. God bless.