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Crohn's Disease Forum » Treatment » Semi-Vegetarian Diet & Remission


View Poll Results: Vegetarianism: Which describes you best?
I eat both meat & dairy Products 18 64.29%
I am a vegetarian 8 28.57%
I am a vegan 2 7.14%
Voters: 28. You may not vote on this poll

09-20-2010, 10:44 AM   #1
Chuck2008
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Semi-Vegetarian Diet & Remission

Hi just read a scientific article that shows a semi-vegetarian diet can be very effective in the maintenance of Crohn's disease:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2877178/

This makes sense to me, since Crohn's disease has historically been quite rare in Asian countries, at least until they started adopting the western fast-food hamburger lifestyle.

Also, my own Crohn's disease has been put completely into remission (and stayed there) since starting an Ensure diet. I have been feeling so good lately that I decided to gradually introduce ingredients back into my diet to see what happens. What I've noticed is that fatty animal meats (hamburgers, bacon, sausages) have a bad inflammatory effect on my intestines for a few days afterwards, then everything goes back to normal after resuming the Ensure diet. On the other hand, the non-meat foods I've tried have been fine so far.

What is everyone elses experience with meat and their Crohn's symptoms? I know it hard to tell when there are so many different components in our diets and so many different medications, but I'm wondering if anyone else out there has experimented by changing just one ingredient at a time in their diet to see if there are any conclusive triggers?

PS: Please take my poll on vegetarianism

Last edited by Chuck2008; 09-20-2010 at 10:52 AM.
09-20-2010, 11:36 AM   #2
TMos
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can do chicken, pork, some beef but not ground or steak. Had some brisket last night that didn't tear me up.
09-20-2010, 12:15 PM   #3
wolfem
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Hi just read a scientific article that shows a semi-vegetarian diet can be very effective in the maintenance of Crohn's disease:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2877178/

This makes sense to me, since Crohn's disease has historically been quite rare in Asian countries, at least until they started adopting the western fast-food hamburger lifestyle.

Also, my own Crohn's disease has been put completely into remission (and stayed there) since starting an Ensure diet. I have been feeling so good lately that I decided to gradually introduce ingredients back into my diet to see what happens. What I've noticed is that fatty animal meats (hamburgers, bacon, sausages) have a bad inflammatory effect on my intestines for a few days afterwards, then everything goes back to normal after resuming the Ensure diet. On the other hand, the non-meat foods I've tried have been fine so far.

What is everyone elses experience with meat and their Crohn's symptoms? I know it hard to tell when there are so many different components in our diets and so many different medications, but I'm wondering if anyone else out there has experimented by changing just one ingredient at a time in their diet to see if there are any conclusive triggers?

PS: Please take my poll on vegetarianism
Ooooo. Yes. I've done that too. So, all the meats I can eat are chicken, pork, beef, and turkey. They have to be really lean though and I rarely ever eat beef. I eat lots of meat to maintain my weight and at the same time I usually eat cooked veggies with it especially broccoli and spinach. I have flares if I eat anything with lots of carbs except cannellini beans. I also stay away from gluten, milk, and high fatty foods. I try and eat all the foods that reduce inflammation and every once in awhile I will make veggie smoothies with blueberries and papaya.

You could say my diet really isn't vegetarian since I eat lots of meat. Its considered to be more of a paleolithic diet. Seems to work really well for me. However I'm still trying to figure out other foods that contain some carbs to help me feel full.


-Mary

Diagnosed: Crohn’s December ‘09
Gastritis August ’09, TMJD 1992
Surgeries: 1-terminal ileum removal
Treatments: Current- pentasa
Past- pred. aciphex, ranitidine
Other: Multi-vitamin, calcium,
digestive enzymes, probiotics,
fish oil, and Ginger

Last edited by wolfem; 09-20-2010 at 12:18 PM.
09-20-2010, 01:04 PM   #4
ThanksP
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I eat meat-free 3-4 times a week. Otherwise, I'll eat chicken, turkey, and fish. The only red meat I can eat is Buffalo. I eat it when I'm craving a hamburger or meatloaf, it tastes just like ground beef but it doesn't mess with me like ground beef does. I've also bought it in "steaks" and it is magnificent.
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09-20-2010, 01:19 PM   #5
FireflyX
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I eat chicken and fish only but no dairy products due to my lactose intolerance.
09-20-2010, 03:04 PM   #6
MapleLeafGirl
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I eat chicken and fish and try to limit that to once per day. I eat some dairy - I can have small amounts of milk, but not a full glass. Cheese is okay as long as I don't overdo it.
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09-20-2010, 03:47 PM   #7
seaofdreams
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That was a really interesting read, thanks for posting.
I love reading studies like this, I'm still in the stage of discovering what foods work for me and what foods don't so this gives me a lot of great ideas to try.

I stick to baked fish and chicken and scrambled or poached eggs for protein. I avoid all dairy too, it makes me sick even if I use lactase pills.
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"Never feel guilty for being sick and try to stop comparing yourself and your life to others. You're doing the best you can under the circumstances you have and you're doing great."

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Medication: 20mg Methotrexate injection weekly
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Last edited by seaofdreams; 09-20-2010 at 04:14 PM.
09-20-2010, 08:46 PM   #8
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Well, in my case being vegetarian didn't help. I've been a vegetarian since 1987 and was healthy then and until I got Crohn's. I was just diagnosed last year, have been sick for about 4 years, have had 5 bowel obstructions, had surgery in Feb., and can't seem to get in remission. My doctor actually thinks being vegetarian is bad for me, and all those years of such a high-fiber diet may have irritated my intestines too much. Who knows. Of course, I've been on a low-fiber/residue diet for over a year, and will be on it indefinitely, so there is not very much I can eat these days.
09-20-2010, 09:26 PM   #9
Chuck2008
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Well thats discouraging . I was ready to go out and start enjoying all-I-can-eat vegetarian food.

Sorry to hear there is nothing you can eat Stella, I know how that feels since I'm eating nothing but Ensure, water and green tea these days. Except in your case its worse since you aren't in remission..
09-20-2010, 09:34 PM   #10
5 iron
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can do chicken, pork, some beef but not ground or steak. Had some brisket last night that didn't tear me up.
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice Springer
09-20-2010, 09:41 PM   #11
5 iron
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Dang I eat everything,well beans do give me gas but i think thats true with a lot of people without crohns, whats the deal with beef,they gave me roast beef the day after my surgery.
09-20-2010, 09:45 PM   #12
5 iron
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Well, in my case being vegetarian didn't help. I've been a vegetarian since 1987 and was healthy then and until I got Crohn's. I was just diagnosed last year, have been sick for about 4 years, have had 5 bowel obstructions, had surgery in Feb., and can't seem to get in remission. My doctor actually thinks being vegetarian is bad for me, and all those years of such a high-fiber diet may have irritated my intestines too much. Who knows. Of course, I've been on a low-fiber/residue diet for over a year, and will be on it indefinitely, so there is not very much I can eat these days.
stella, they cut the crohns out of you, and you can't get remission,what maintenance drug are you taking?
09-20-2010, 10:00 PM   #13
wolfem
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Well, in my case being vegetarian didn't help. I've been a vegetarian since 1987 and was healthy then and until I got Crohn's. I was just diagnosed last year, have been sick for about 4 years, have had 5 bowel obstructions, had surgery in Feb., and can't seem to get in remission. My doctor actually thinks being vegetarian is bad for me, and all those years of such a high-fiber diet may have irritated my intestines too much. Who knows. Of course, I've been on a low-fiber/residue diet for over a year, and will be on it indefinitely, so there is not very much I can eat these days.
I'm sorry
09-20-2010, 10:41 PM   #14
Lydia
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In a last ditch effort to help myself before going back on med I went vegan for 9 months. At first I was hungry all the time, then I adjusted, then I felt energetic, and then I felt tired. In the meantime, my flare went from moderate to severe. I think it would have went severe no matter what I was eating.

I do have meat and dairy free days 3-4 times a week, and I try to cut back on my wheat consumption too as part of my whole foods diet. I think a whole foods approach is best for me.

When I eat meat, its local free range chicken, and fish that I catch myself. My father in law supplies us with ground venison.
09-21-2010, 09:10 PM   #15
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Thanks guys . I hope to come on here with better news at some point in my life.

5-iron, I'm on Imuran, have been since the surgery. But my 6-month postop scope showed recurrence in new areas and at the surgical site. My doctor wants me to stay on it for a while longer, then if my next scope is bad too, I'll go on Remicade.
09-22-2010, 07:44 AM   #16
bushydougie
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I've been vegetarian for over 20 years and am currently in the process of being diagnosed with Crohn's
Perhaps I would be worse if I'd eaten meat over the past 20 years but my diet certainly hasn't prevented my array of symptoms...
That said I'd never want to stop anyone trying being a vegetarian
09-22-2010, 02:51 PM   #17
TMos
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Finally got her to give up her binky. Need to post my Chessie's photo. Can't get both of them to sit still at the same time.
09-23-2010, 05:48 AM   #18
Cat-a-Tonic
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I gave up eating red meat when I was about 14. I didn't get sick with this gut illness until about a month before I turned 30. I actually eat more chicken & fish now because I feel like more protein might be beneficial to my health, but giving up beef & pork didn't seem to have any impact on me developing this disease years later.

Over the years, I've occasionally had a hankering for a cheeseburger, and I always paid for it after about 3 bites - even before I got ill. I think my body has stopped producing the enzymes necessary to digest beef, or something like that. So if I tried to eat beef now, I'd most likely get terribly sick for days. It's not worth it to me to even try, so I'll never eat red meat again.
09-24-2010, 12:44 PM   #19
deedee
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add me to the list of long-time vegetarians with Crohn's! I've been a vegetarian for 14 years, and just got diagnosed this summer. I have found that lowering the fiber in my diet has helped a little bit, but my diet was pretty high in fiber before (unintentionally, just the food I like!)
10-28-2010, 04:37 PM   #20
DustyKat
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Over the four years since her op Roo has gradually found this type of diet suits her best ~ she eats no red meat, chicken or pork and has very little dairy. She uses soy milk and eats mainly seafood, vegetables (many of them raw) and fruit.

Dusty.
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03-24-2012, 09:52 PM   #21
lseibert
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Chuck2008,

Thank you for a very informative post!
I'm heading for my third surgery in 13 months. I had 2 strictureplasty that didn't fix the problem, so think it was inevitable. I've been thinking about Semi-vegetarian diet, so after this surgery I think I will try it.
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[SIZE="1"]Crohn's Disease and IBS
Diagnosed: 2001(symptoms for 22 years prior)
Currently on:
Desipramine for IBS, Vicodin for pain
Surgery: Small bowel strictureplasty 02/19/11 and 11/17/11, then a small bowel resection 4/6/12, Hemicolectomy 9/2016
Supplements:
Multivitamins & Vitamin D3
Prednisone: Never again
Imuran (azathioprine)= Pancreatitis
Entocort EC (Budesonide) and medical adhesives = Rash
Humira=numb feet & hands
03-24-2012, 10:55 PM   #22
Susan2
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SNIP, SNIP What I've noticed is that fatty animal meats (hamburgers, bacon, sausages) have a bad inflammatory effect on my intestines for a few days afterwards, then everything goes back to normal after resuming the Ensure diet. Snip, Snip
I decided quite early on (some 30 years ago!) that processed, smoked, etc. meats were bad for my gut. I am not sure which of the ingredients does the damage, but they always cause me trouble. Even salmon, which I have no problems with in a fresh or canned state, is a disaster for me when smoked.
03-24-2012, 11:32 PM   #23
System-X
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I'm going to blame Meat Glue!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXXrB3rz-xU
03-25-2012, 03:13 AM   #24
Susan2
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I forgot to say that I am definitely a meat eater, although I do eat as many vegetables as I can cope with, I have an ileostomy and have been in remission (except for the diarrhoea that most ileostomates get from time to time, some occasions of dehydration, and tiredness) for 12 years.
11-21-2013, 01:14 PM   #25
mvman57
 
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Over 25 years with Crohn's Colitis (colon only). Unusual case because I lived symptom free for 15 years, for a time on no medication at all. In my mid-40s, inflammation and ulcerations appeared and began to increase until after about three years my descending and sigmoid were shot. Surgery was recommended -- one surgeon even said "we might as well take out the whole colon while we're in there" -- but I was reluctant to give in. I had been on Humira and an Aziothiapine to no apparent effect. I came across a book about curing Crohn's with a vegan diet. I jumped right in cold turkey overnight, did a strict juice and steamed vegetable diet for a month and immediately began feeling better. Lost 20 lbs too, and felt great. But by this time the damage was irreversible, even if the diet would work.

In Nov. 2012, I had surgery to removed the damaged lower half of my colon after a near blockage, and have stayed on the vegetarian diet (eggs, grains & cheese, otherwise all plant based foods). Nine months after surgery and my first post-op colonoscopy, and my remaining colon showed no signs of inflammation at all. The doc snipped out two polyps of tissue consistent with Crohn's, otherwise my colon was totally healthy.

Now, there is a lot of talk about curing Crohn's with a vegan diet (it takes great willpower to maintain and getting enough calories for an athletic lifestyle is very hard), with a macrobiotic diet, etc. My belief is that we only have anecdotal evidence like me and this very small short study sited here. There are those who were vegetarians before getting Crohn's, as one poster here says.

My hunch is that this is a disease that is not "one size fits all." Each of us has our own set of triggers, dictated by a differing combination of the genes that have been identified as related to the onset of the disease. But in the end, I believe the disease is a matter of the immune system reacting to the intestinal environment, not an immune system simply gone haywire that can be soothed by dietary changes. There is mounting evidence that the type and amount of various bacteria in the intestine hold the answer.

But this I do believe, the easier we make the work of the intestine, the better off we are. That means eating a diet that digests quickly and easily. And animal protein, for a variety of reasons due to our human biochemistry (enzymes, digestives acids) are the hardest thing for us to digest. All meats digest poorly, create a highly acidic environment in the stomach, which raises our blood pH. Ultimately meat leaves the stomach and small intestines only partially digested. We end up with putrefying meat in our colon, which slows the movement of all other waste. This causes an imbalance of bacterias which the immune system responds to, causing chronic inflammation and ulceration.

For some people, maybe digesting raw vegetables is a problem. For some the problem is worse than others, just because everybody's immune system may respond differently to different cues.

My attitude is, you can't be a slave to your disease or your past lifestyle. Keep asking questions, educating yourself, don't allow your doctor's to have the final say in your healthcare decisions. You have nothing to loose by giving a long, honest try at the vegetarian approach. You can live without meat; there are many tasty soy and plant-based alternatives to meat. If you are still eating meat but still on medications and still suffering flares or symptoms, you owe it to yourself to try. What's more important to you, a burger or having extra time and energy to devote to the people and things you love.

I am back to living the highly active lifestyle I had 15 years ago -- mountain biking hard three times a week, looking forward to ski season, boundless amounts of energy, and completely free of all medications. I take a low dose of iron to replace the red meat, nothing else.

Will it last for another year, five years, 20 years? Is this my "cure"? Only time will tell. But I am better off today with half a colon than I ever was on the medications. Nobody talks about it, but all medications have side effects. If you may be able to control the disease with diet and lifestyle, why wouldn't you try? But do it under your GI's super vision. See if the diet is working and bringing on remission before discontinuing any medication.

Just don't accept the disease as the defining element of your life.
05-01-2015, 11:51 AM   #26
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I really think what foods are either good or bad for anyone with IBD is highly specific to individual make-up and body chemistry. I finally got a diagnosis after 6years of dealing with crohn's, which doesn't surprise me since it runs in my family, but I think one of the reasons it took so long to get that diagnosis was how differently I react to certain foods compared to what is considered the norm, or average... I have started a vegetarian diet about a year ago (but once in a while I have small amounts of dairy or a boiled egg... then I get a tummy ache!). I cannot eat meats at all (no chicken or fish either), otherwise within 20 or so minutes of eating it I go from having a completely flat stomach to looking like I am 9 months pregnant, and the pain is so severe I can barely stand up. When I used to eat meat, I couldn't wash dishes or clean the kitchen after dinner because the pain was so bad all I could do was roll around on the bed in pain... and dinner was the only meal this happened after, and the only meal I ever ate meat at. Also, I have to survive off of tons of raw fruit, raw veggies, and lots of roughage... it never makes me sick at all... and if I don't have it I get what I have named "gut-sludge" ... horrible, sticky, semi-solid poop that I have to strain like hell to pass, terrible gas, bloat that makes me look like I swallowed a basket ball, unbearable pain, and I literally feel like my guts are swelling shut... its hard even to pass gas... I sure wouldn't recommend anyone else with IBD eat like me though. This goes to show how different each of us are, and why it is so hard for the docs to recommend a specific diet for these things.
02-21-2016, 12:50 AM   #27
VeilOfTranscendence
 
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It's important to realize that not all vegetarian diets are equal. You can eat a lot of bad foods, like bread and cheese, in large quantities on a vegetarian diet (like I did). That is a far cry from the healthy SVD advocated in this study, which is more of a "anti Westernized food-diet' than simply a semi vegetarian diet.

It's important for vegs and ex-vegs to not throw in the towel and say "well I got CD as a vegetarian, it doesn't work!". Look at the studies carefully before you make possibly unintelligent adjustments out of emotion. The diet that has the best results is a largely plant-based diet with a variety of whole foods and no breads and cheeses! Unless you have tried this specifically for a significant period of time, do not blame vegetarian diets!
02-21-2016, 06:58 AM   #28
ronroush7
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I can do chicken and beef
02-21-2016, 04:37 PM   #29
Lizzie
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Interesting point about the "right" sort of vegetarian diet. I've been vegetarian almost all my life and I was thinking the same way as some of the other veggies who've commented on this thread, ie feeling very sceptical about the benefits of a vegetarian diet since I ended up with Crohns myself. I used to eat a mixture of ultra-healthy vegetarian/vegan meals but also a load of junk, particularly sweet stuff. Now, however, I can't tolerate much fibre at all, so I've had to abandon nuts, beans, most vegetables, etc etc and being forced to eat cheese and even eggs for protein. So I haven't a clue what to eat any more and am on an incredibly limited diet. If I gave up bread and cheese I'd starve to death, and if I ate wholefoods I dread to think how my gut would respond - like many other people on this forum. I really want my old life back!
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