Crohn’s disease, Colitis and IBS affects millions of people around the globe.
Day-to-day living is especially difficult if you suffer from constant pain, discomfort, indigestion, fatigue, and frequent/non frequent toilet trips. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle for digestive disorders can make a big difference. By taking responsibility for your health you can dramatically reduce symptoms, lengthen remissions, and help yourself to enjoy a happy, healthy, productive life.
For those who don’t know me personally, I thought I would share my story with you on how I healed myself naturally, holistically and free from pills.
Rewind 20 years, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease on my 12th birthday; a very painful disease that affects your gut and immune health. For years I was in and out of hospitals, taking strong medications that had a long list of side effects, including hair loss, headaches, insomnia, mood swings, dizziness, tiredness, nausea and flu-like symptoms.
A few years later, after realising the medication only really masked my condition, my parents started researching naturopathic doctors in the area. To my luck, there was one near by called Dr. Tristan Trethart that had a list of patients he had helped holistically. After months of following his advice and lots of fresh juices (courtesy of my mum!) my symptoms were non-existent.
My doctors were amazed; they couldn’t believe my improvement was due to my diet.
They had told me to follow a diet of mostly white foods: white bread, pasta, bagels, potatoes, milk, crackers, cereal, and very little fruit and veg – it was the polar opposite to the naturopath’s advice. He suggested a colourful diet with fresh juices and lots of mineral water; to avoid gluten, refined sugar, processed foods, artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and cow’s milk; and he prescribed me many natural supplements. This was over 15 years ago. The options back then for gluten and dairy swaps were very limited, so my diet was pretty difficult to sustain – especially when I hit high school and hanging out at the local fast food joints for lunch was the cool thing to do. This made it hard to resist bite size burgers, creamy chocolate malts and other temptations that high school brings, but today there are so many healthy alternatives.
Over the years my health would go up and down, depending on my diet and lifestyle. If I included high quality nutrition, got enough sleep and lived stress free, my symptoms would be clear. However, if I consumed too much carbonated soda, refined, artificial and processed foods, didn’t get much sleep, or was stressed, I would either be popping painkillers or go back in the hospital.
After my near fatal experience at 23 years old in Athens when I had to spend almost 2 weeks bed bound, I was finally motivated to take full responsibility for my own health. I realised no one could fix it, cure it or heal it – but myself. Even with my naturopathic doctor’s tips years before, it was me who had to apply that advice and use it in my everyday life.
Here are my top tips to conquer Crohn’s Disease
1) Ditch cow’s milk, gluten, wheat, and refined sugar. It is important you remove these culprits to help repair and boost your gut health; quite simply, clean food means clean colon, dirty food means dirty colon. Nourish yourself with real wholesome foods and your body will respond in ways you never imagined.
2) Add one fresh green juice and one fresh smoothie to your daily diet. This is the most simple way to add vitamins and minerals to your system, giving you a plethora of nutrients. People who suffer from digestive disorders tend to not absorb and assimilate nutrients properly, so this is a great way to add easily-digestible nutrition to your body.
3) Include phytonutrients in all your meals. Phytonutrients are natural plant compounds found in plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and legumes. Although the typical food guideline is 5 servings of fruit & vegetables a day, I am a firm believer that we should have at least 8-10 servings of veggies and 2-3 of fruits every day. Plant based foods have incredible healing powers, are full of vitamins and minerals, and combat oxidative stress which causes ageing and illness. Consuming a colourful diet, sipping on fresh soups and smoothies, and gulping on green juices will optimise your health significantly. I know this as I have eaten two ways, and the colourful way is what I believe helped me get to and stay in remission.
4) Take Juice Plus+ premium blends. I have been taking Juice plus+ for over 5 years now, a whole-food supplement with over 27 different fruits, grains and veggies. This combination of high quality nutrition from Juice plus+ has given my immune, digestive, skin, brain, heart and bone health an extra boost, and has maximized the benefits of wholesome real organic foods.
5) Add more supplements. Incorporate supplements that Include L-glutamine, omega 3, vitamin A, vitamin E vitamin B, probiotics, vitamin D, magnesium and digestive enzymes; these each have a benefit for specific reasons, helping to promote healthy young cells for optimal health.
6) Meditate. I wake up every morning and listen to a 20 minute guided meditation by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. The impact has been significant as I feel much more balanced, calm and content. Meditation helps you react to real life problems and stressful situations in a much more graceful and calm way. I know I can handle whatever comes my way and not let it eat me up inside. Stress is a killer as the brain and gut are connected, so it is important that people suffering with Crohn’s or digestive disorders keep their stress to a minimal… I don’t recommend stressful jobs or stressful relationships, put you and your health first!