Happy New Year all! May this year be your most wonderful and joyful!
There is no shortage of the deluge of advice from all kinds of “thought leaders” about keeping your New Year’s resolutions. After a while it all sounds the same. We all know what we need to do and it’s up to each person to make those changes happen. For me the most important goals are 1) how can I continue to lead a healthy life physically, mentally and spiritually (without this goal, nothing else is possible), 2) what brings me joy? and 3) how can I help others and make a difference? Except for a few other goals thrown in such as to conquer my fear of flying, the three above never change.
To start achieving goals for 2018 my first blog is to share information on a disease which affects over 700,000 Americans. Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. Over 1.4 million Americas are affected with IBD. In the last 4 months, I have seen four clients with Crohn’s. The symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue. Malnutrition also occurs due to an inability to absorb nutrients.
Since Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease and one of inflammation, eliminating anything that causes inflammation or aggravates an autoimmune condition is crucial. I advise anyone who believes they have Crohn’s or IBD to see a doctor prior to following any advice, including mine.
All medical systems agree that a digestive system which functions optimally is key to a healthy immune system and mental health. The inability to absorb nutrients from food leads to illness and on the flip side repairing one’s digestive system will transcend health. It takes time. The guidelines below will reduce inflammation and pain and put you on the road to better health. Since this is a lengthy article I wanted to make it easy to follow, hence the bullets. So here goes….
- To begin, you must cook all meals and not eat out for at least four months. Restaurant and fast food contain a lot of salt, sugar and trans fats (bad oils) which are inflammatory.
- Start each day with a cup of hot water. Boil the water, then let it cool so it’s hot but drinkable. This will set the digestive track for the day and clean out toxins from the night before.
- Make organic white rice according to instructions and DO NOT discard the starchy water. Instead, drink two cups a day of the water that is leftover from making the rice. It is very healing to the stomach.
- Avoid ALL processed food (anything that comes out of a can or box that has more than a few ingredients). If you can’t identify the ingredients, don’t eat it. Eating food without chemicals which is not processed or refined will help the body detox. Processed and refined foods cause inflammation.
- Avoid anything cold…nothing with ice.
- Avoid all dairy products.
- Remove any products made with carrageenan from your diet. (Read labels on soy products carefully).
- Avoid all products with gluten (wheat, barley & rye). Many products have hidden gluten such as soy sauce.
- Avoid all white flour products such as white pasta and white bread.
- Avoid all sugar and products sweetened with sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, xylitol, or other sugar alcohols. Honey is ok, occasionally, but use raw unrefined. Honey is a natural antibiotic and many people with autoimmune disease have yeast or candida and honey can help.
- Avoid all caffeine and decaffeinated beverages.
- Avoid nightshades (tomatoes, all peppers, white potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine), eggplant. These tend to cause inflammation and many people are allergic to them.
- Avoid spicy foods and spices like hot pepper and cayenne.
- Avoid raw fruits, raw vegetables, seeds and nuts because they will irritate the digestive system.
- Avoid red meat and pork.
- Try to buy as much organic food as you can – especially fruits and vegetables.
- Steam or sauté vegetables, and even fruit, so it’s warm and not in a raw cold state. Cold food and beverages upset the digestive track.
- Eat pureed food, such as warm soups or stews. Food should be chewed thoroughly and eaten slowly so it gets broken down and the nutrients can be metabolized and absorbed,
- Drink warm bone broth – 2 cups a day. You can add vegetables to it to make a soup. It is GREAT for the digestive track. If you don’t have a farmer who sells it, many health food stores carry it.
- Make sure chicken and turkey are antibiotic free. Again, do not eat chunks of meat. Cut it into small pieces and chew thoroughly. Eat meat only twice a week. A mostly plant-based diet is better for inflammation.
- Fish such as wild (not farm-raised) salmon and sardines are beneficial and contain omega 3’s.
- Use coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter used in Ayurveda (Indian medicine) only for cooking. Extra virgin olive oil can be used on vegetables after cooking. It becomes an unhealthy fat when heated. Coconut oil and ghee are great for the digestive system and best for high-heat cooking.
Supplements (check with your doctor)
- Take slippery elm in powder form. Combine one teaspoon of the powder with two cups of boiling water. Stir well. You can even add a teaspoon of honey, but it must be unrefined raw organic. Drink one or two cups twice a day.
- If cramping is a problem, take enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil between meals to relieve the spasmodic component of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Medical marijuana is well documented for helping Crohn’s. Check if it is legal in your state and go to a participating practitioner.
- Omega 3 fish oils help inflammation. If they worsen the diarrhea then cut back.
- Make sure vitamin d level is optimal.
- Massage and energy work
- Essential oils of lavender, geranium and orange to help relaxation. They can be placed on the bottom of the feet and inhaled.
- Perform a daily self-massage using warmer, heavier oils like sesame and almond to release toxins and stimulate circulation. You can use a washcloth or bath gloves in the shower then apply oil after your shower. The oil can lubricate the joints and muscles to help with any aches and pains.
- Stress can greatly worsen symptoms so it’s very important to do some stress relieving therapy. They have also been known to reduce systemic inflammation:
This may all seem overwhelming, but it becomes a way of life, and as you start feeling better the choices are made for you. It’s not what you are giving up but what you are gaining. Daily habits determine health. Since I have an autoimmune disease and counsel a lot of people with it I know that we have the power to feel better. It just takes commitment. You will love how you feel!