When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease back in 2013, I really wasn’t sure what the future would hold. I had constant stomach aches, a bloated belly, and generally felt terrible 99% of the time. My doctor told me that drugs were the only way to manage this lifelong illness, but after researching the side effects of these drugs, I became even more bummed out.
Not only did most of the drugs come with nasty side effects, they didn’t seem to drastically reduce the risk of future complications, surgery, or hospitalization. They seemed like a bad fix to a bad problem.
Luckily, I have always been a researcher and am constantly looking to learn. That drive sent me on a hunt to find the latest and greatest Crohn’s research, and I am so so glad it did. This research led me to find a whole foods plant based diet which literally changed my life.
Switching to a whole foods plant based diet put my Crohn’s Disease in remission and has kept it there for years. My stomach never hurts and I haven’t experienced a flare up in years.
But don’t just take my word for it. Shall we look at some research?
The Research on Crohn’s Disease and Diet
As it turns out, westernized diets are a leading factor in Crohn’s disease. And a westernized diet is exactly what most Americans are eating, and the exact diet I was eating back then too. No wonder Crohn’s Disease is on the rise.
Studies have found that diets high in animal products, sugars, alcohol, and saturated fats while being low in fiber are the most important determining factor in having active Crohn’s disease.
Those who ate low fiber western diets have a longer duration of disease, more surgeries, and more hospital stays when compared to those who eat a plant based diet.
And that those who switched to a plant based diet had much better outcomes (read fewer stomach aches and trips to the bathroom) than those remaining on their standard diet.
For patients on a high fiber plant based diet, rates of relapse at 1 year were 0% and at 2 years they were 8%. For those on a western diet full of animal products, sugar, and processed food, relapse rates were 33% and 75%.
The Whole Foods Plant Based Diet:
So clearly a plant based diet works, and works even better that the expensive, side effect riddled drugs of the trade. And not only is a plant based diet the most beneficial thing for Crohn’s Disease, it has a positive impact on nearly every area of your health. It looks like the only side effects of this treatment are good ones, folks. More energy, slower aging, cancer prevention, and so much more.
A plant based diet is made up of just what you’d think – plants! The diet is made up of fruits, veggies, beans, and grains. And the less processed, the better.
On a plant based diet you avoid processed oils, meat, dairy, processed foods, low fiber foods, and fried foods.
Getting Started on a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
Switching up your diet can seem like a daunting task. It will take you a while to adjust, but trust me on this, it will be so worth it. Your body will also need time to heal before you can experience the full benefit of this diet. The gut can take 6 months to a year to heal, so the important thing is to keep on keeping on. You will likely experience benefits initially, but know there are so many more to come.
When I have helped others with Crohn’s Disease transition to a plant based diet, the number one question I get asked is, “What will I eat?!” as their eyes widen in horror looking at the list of “no” foods.
Luckily, there are so many recipes both online and in cookbooks for those of us following a plant based diet. You can search the web and find countless recipes to suit your tastes, or even just search my website here. *nudge *nudge All the recipes are both gluten free and plant based!
Looking to invest in some cookbooks? Here are some of my favorites that were helpful in getting me started on a plant based diet:
Looking for more information on a plant based diet and how beneficial it is? Here are some great books and online resources: