5 Foods That Help Soothe a Crohn’s Flare-Up

Wednesday Nov 6 | BY |
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Crohn's Disease

Bananas have a special fiber that can help block the transmission
of bugs that aggravate Crohn’s disease.

The idea that diet can affect flare-ups of Crohn’s disease is not a new concept. A number of studies have examined the issue, in an attempt to determine which foods are most helpful, and which do the most damage.

A recent study, for example, found that consuming fiber long-term—particularly fiber from fruit—was associated with a lower risk of developing Crohn’s disease. An earlier study also found that treatment of Crohn’s disease with a fiber-rich, unrefined carbohydrate diet resulted in fewer hospital admissions, shorter hospital stays, and a reduced need for intestinal surgery.

A 2007 study also found that a diet high in vegetables, fish, and dietary fiber was protective against Crohn’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids were particularly helpful, especially if intake was higher than omega-6 fatty acids.

What if you’re in the middle of a Crohn’s flare-up? Are there certain foods that could make things better?

5 Best Foods to Eat

Some foods are easier to digest and soothing to the stomach when you’re under stress. The next time your Crohn’s shows its ugly head, try these options:

  1. Yogurt: Some studies indicate that the probiotics in yogurt can help with intestinal recovery. A 2009 study, for example, found that Bacillus polyfermenticus reduced rectal bleeding, lessened tissue inflammation, and promoted weight gain in mice with inflammatory bowel disease, and also helped promote healing of damaged tissue. Harvard Health also notes that probiotic therapy may help maintain remission and prevent relapse, and the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests Saccharomyces boulardi (250 mg 3 times per day to 500 mg 4 times a day) may also help reduce the incidence of diarrhea. Other studies have shown mixed results and we still need more research to determine which strains are most effective, but this is a good food to try. Other foods rich in probiotics may be equally effective.
  2. Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids are another group of nutrients that may help tame the inflammation of a Crohn’s flare up. A 2013 literature review found that supplementation with omega-3s resulted in sustained remission from the disease. Other studies found no effect. The University of Maryland Medical Center also notes that omega-3s such as those found in fish oil may fight inflammation and reduce the chances of recurrence.
  3. Bananas, applesauce and broccoli: You’ve probably eaten bananas and applesauce before when you had a stomachache. These foods are often recommended because they’re easy to tolerate, but some research has shown that they may be helpful in stopping damaging bacteria from invading the intestines. Increased numbers of E. coli have been found in association with Crohn’s disease in previous studies. A more recent study found that fibers in bananas and broccoli reduced the transportation of E. coli into the gut—basically blocking it.
  4. Almond milk: Many people with Crohn’s disease are lactose intolerant. Almond milk is easy to digest and provides key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. (One study found that vitamin D supplementation helped relief symptoms of Crohn’s disease like reduced muscle strength and fatigue.) An extra bonus—almonds have prebiotic potential that could help improve digestive health. Scientists from the Institute of Food Research found that finely ground almonds significant increased levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria. You may also want to try almond butter.
  5. Oatmeal: Dietary fiber can help prevent symptoms of Crohn’s, but for some people, it can also worsen diarrhea and cause cramps and pain. Oatmeal has soluble fiber, which is easily broken down by the body, and is a good source of energy. It’s also known to be soothing to the gastrointestinal tract.

Do you have other tips for foods that may help soothe a Crohn’s flare-up?

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Ashwin N., et al., “A Prospective Study of Long-term Intake of Dietary Fiber and Risk of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis,” Gastroenterology, August 5, 2013, http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(13)01140-2/abstract.

Heaten KW, et al., “Crohn’s disease with an unrefined-carbohydrate, fiber-rich diet,” Br Med J, September 29, 1979; 2(6193):764-6, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/519185.

Jennifer Warner, “Probiotics May Help Treat IBD Symptoms,” WebMD Health News, October 29, 2009, http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/news/20091029/probiotics-may-help-treat-ibd-symptoms.

“Health benefits of taking probiotics,” Healthbeat, Harvard Health Publications, http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml.

Swan K, et al., “Omega-3 fatty acid for the treatment and remission of Crohn’s disease,” J Complement Integr Med, May 7, 2013; 7(10), http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23652637.

“Crohn’s disease,” University of Maryland Medical Center, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/crohns-disease.

Amre DK, et al., “Imbalances in dietary consumption of fatty acids, vegetables, and fruits are associated with risk for Crohn’s disease in children,” Am J Gastroenterol 2007 Sep;102(9):2016-25, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17617201.

Nathan Gray, “Broccoli and banana fibers show Crohn’s potential: Study,” Nutraingredients-usa.com, August 26, 2010, http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Broccoli-and-banana-fibers-show-Crohn-s-potential-Study.

“Research highlights benefits of vitamin D, diet changes in patients with Crohn’s disease,” News-Medical.Net, October 16, 2013, http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130520/Research-highlights-benefits-of-vitamin-D-diet-changes-in-patients-with-Crohns-disease.aspx.

Norwich BioScience Institutes (2008, July 1). Prebiotic Potential Of Almonds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 16, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/06/080627163121.htm.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com


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  1. Kasey says:

    One of the main causes of a flare up in Crohn’s or Colitis is an allergy to milk protein. I would definitely not recommend someone eat yogurt. You can be eating the highest quality, raw organic fermented dairy and it can cause a flare up all on it’s own. Removing dairy is the number one suggestion I would have to overcoming colitis or crohns. I used to have Ulcerative Colitis as bad as it gets. Dairy protein isn’t the only thing that can trigger an allergy. People with these conditions have weak digestion, and protein is one of the hardest substances to digest in the first place. Anything high in protein could trigger an allergic reaction. Low protein is key to overcoming these illnesses. Maybe if you are supplementing with enzymes and HCL you can get around this, but I’m unsure enough to recommend someone try that.

    Whole grains have unfriendly insoluble fiber that will scratch your colon like glass. I would suggest to avoid whole grains completely. White rice should be fine, but brown rice… forget about it. Quinoa? No. Not in the healing phase.

    Salmon? I never felt the anti-inflammatory benefits of salmon, only the harsh scratchy mass of fish moving through my injured colon. Again, protein is hard to digest, avoid high protein foods like animals. I could see fish oil, maybe helping. But yuck, go for flax oil if anything. Don’t buy into that weak conversion rate nonsense. Check your blood before you buy into DHA hype. There’s a reason the body only converts a certain amount of ALA to DHA.

    Fruits are the most soothing for this condition. Blended vegetables like lettuce will help mineralize the body, but avoid just eating them raw. Vegetable juice can be helpful as well. Steamed vegetables including root vegetables can help provide the sanity that comes with eating a satiating meal. Avocados can help, but be careful because your digestion of fats will probably be compromised as well. See how you feel. If you get nauseous after eating high fat foods, you know you aren’t digesting them. Same thing if you get constipated.

    The book that helped me the most was “Self healing colitis and crohns” by David Klein. I have been off all meds for over 5 years, and flare free ever since I gave up dairy 2 years ago. That was the final piece to my health puzzle. Hope that helps.

    I made some videos about my journey at http://www.youtube.com/user/canadianwargod if anyone is interested.

    We can’t look at health with a scientific mind. Yogurt sounds really beneficial to an intellectual. It has good bacteria, predigested nutrients, creamy soothing fats. But in reality, it is allergenic to most people, and lymphatically clogging to the system as a whole. In practice it is actually a dangerous food. Don’t be fooled by your brain. Listen to your heart, and use your common sense. You can heal!

  2. Michael says:


    I could not tolarate fiber when i had an crohn flare up. I craved fiberlow stuff like white bread.(but also yoghurt)
    I actually healed it with the techniques in the 2 books by David r. Hawkins “healing and recovery” and especially “letting go-the pathway to surrender”. the letting book brings deep unconsciouess negative feelings to the surface to be released. after a lot of negativity that what was burried deep down inside (i wasn’t aware of it at all) came up, the disease gradually lessened and is now 98 % gone. When i feel it a little bit i know there is more to surrender.

    god bless

  3. Sereyvorn says:

    I completely agree. Those 5 foods are some of the most healthiest foods you can find on the market. I especially like bananas and oatmeal. In fact, every morning, I blend them into a tasty smoothy with 2 scoops of whey protein isolate. It helps fuel my body and the low glycemic levels in the oatmeal keeps me full for a few hours.

    For more information on health and fitness topics. Please visit http://www.build-the-body.com where I teach people how they can muscle build and feel great!

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