CROHN’S disease and ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – are thought to affect 300,000 people.
These are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease
However, experts believe there are thousands more suffering in silence.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of IBD, and common symptoms can include frequent bowel movements, rectal bleeding, cramping pains in the abdomen, fatigue, weight loss and mouth ulcers.
Crohn’s disease affects both men and women and can strike at any age, although it is more prevalent in young adults.
Although there is no known way to prevent these illnesses and their cause is unknown.
There is also no cure for the condition.
However, experts have said there are changes people can make to their lifestyle to help reduce the severity of symptoms and limit the impact on your daily routine.
Inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s and colitis could be eased with diet
Dr Devinder Bansi, consultant gastroenterologist and Interventional Endoscopist at Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital has shared his advice on how best to live with the condition.
Lifestyle changes for those living with IBD
Know your triggers
The foods that make IBD symptoms worse vary from person to person. For some, it may be dairy products, so in this instance you can try more low-lactose dairy products.
Identifying the foods that trigger your symptoms and avoiding them is crucial.
Less gassy foods
Foods that tend to cause gas, such as beans, cabbage, and cauliflower should be avoided. Try to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s and colitis could be eased with diet such as more omega-3
The foods that make IBD symptoms worse vary from person to person
Frequent, smaller meals
Your body may find that replacing larger meals with frequent, smaller ones is more tolerable.
When doing this be sure to check in with your doctor to ensure you are still getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.
If you’re going to be away from home for a couple of days, make sure you plan ahead and are prepared.
Small things such as knowing where bathrooms are can help to relieve any anxiety or stress about being away from home.
Drink plenty of fluids
Your digestive system won’t perform as it should if you don’t drink enough water. You will know if you are getting enough water by checking the colour of your urine. Avoid large amounts of alcohol or caffeine to keep as healthy as possible.
Eat a well-balanced diet
Reducing the intake of meats and foods high in sugar can help lower your risk of developing IBD.
Saturated fats and fruits and vegetables can help to balance your ratio of good to bad bacteria in your body. Also focus on replacing processed foods with organic foods.
Although stress isn’t directly linked with IBD, it can affect your digestive system and overall risk of illness.
Chronic stress can lead to inflammation and can worsen disease symptoms. Try and manage your stress with mindfulness techniques and exercise.
Smoking is a preventable factor in many diseases. By avoiding or quitting smoking, the overall health of your digestive tract will improve – and not to mention it can help to prevent a host of other diseases.
Ask for support from those around you
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as Crohn’s disease can affect your mental wellbeing as well as your physical health.
It’s normal to feel frustrated but if these feelings don’t go away, it’s important not to ignore them.
If you feel it is appropriate, share your feelings with family or friends, or alternatively speak to your doctor, who can help support you and discuss next steps.