Broccoli and Plantain Fibers May Prevent Crohn's Disease Relapse

You've heard the troubling statistics. According to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 1.4 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD), with that number evenly split between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. However, There's good news on the Crohn's front. 

A new study may provide some hope. Scientists from the University of Liverpool in England, the Linkoping University in Sweden and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that broccoli and plantain fibers prevented E.coli movement within the bowel system by between 45 percent and 82 percent. A key stage in the development of Crohn's disease occurs when bacteria, especially E.coli bacteria, attack the cells lining the bowel, causing diarrhea.

The researchers confirmed their test results based on tissue samples taken from patients undergoing surgery for other disorders of the digestive tract. They concluded that Crohn's sufferers who supplemented their diets with broccoli and plantain fiber may prevent disease relapse.

Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation and swelling of the digestive tract, resulting in stomach pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include rectal bleeding, weight loss, arthritis, skin problems and fever.

Although the exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, researchers believe that a variety of factors, including heredity and a malfunctioning immune system may play a role in disease onset. While treatments for Crohn's disease usually involve drugs and, in some instances, surgery, making some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle may also help you control symptoms and reduce your number of flare-ups.

Finding Relief

While there's no proof that what you eat causes IBD, certain foods and beverages can worsen symptoms. Before you make any changes to your diet, check with your doctor to determine the diet that's best for you. If you suspect which foods may be causing you problems, try eliminating them from your diet to see if your symptoms abate. Here are some common culprits:

  • Dairy products. If dairy foods cause you diarrhea, stomach pain and gas, you may be lactose intolerant-your body can't digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. Limiting dairy products or using an enzyme product like Lactaid will help break down lactose.
  • High-fat foods. Foods with high-fat content, such as butter, margarine, cream sauces and fried foods, make diarrhea worse.
  • Alcohol and caffeinated beverages. These beverages stimulate your intestines and can worsen diarrhea. Instead, stick to drinking plenty of water each day.