Inflammatory Bowel Disease

What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

IBD is used to describe both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These are chronic conditions that involve inflammation of the intestines and/or other parts of the digestive system. According to Crohn’s and Colitis Australia, more than 80, 000 Australians live with IBD. Hence, Australia has one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. 

Individuals with IBD are at a higher risk of malnutrition. Reasons for this include loss of appetite, increased energy needs due to chronic inflammation and/or poor digestion or malabsorption of nutrients. A healthy diet can help restore the body to health, help during periods of flare-up and may also lead to a better response to medication.

What Causes IBD?

The causes of IBD remain unknown but are believed to be related to genetics, environment (e.g. viruses, bacteria and/or proteins) and immune system factors. To date there is no cure for IBD. However, medication is an effective management strategy to help the intestines heal, reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Generally speaking, IBD encompasses periods of remission with irregular flare-ups, as symptoms are dependent on the degree of inflammation present.

Symptoms vary in severity and can include: abdominal pain, loose watery stools (can include blood), urgency to open bowels, fever (particularly during a flare-up), unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, tiredness and fatigue, nutrient deficiencies (e.g. anaemia) and chronic conditions (e.g. joint pain and osteoporosis).

how can I help?
My prime goal will be to prevent and manage nutrient deficiencies. This will involve identifying ‘trigger foods’ that may worsen symptoms. I can also recommend certain nutrition supplements, probiotics and/or multivitamins that may help to prevent nutrient deficiencies, reduce symptom severity and ensure adequate energy intake.

If required, I can develop a high energy high protein (HEHP) diet to stop any further unintentional weight loss and help nourish your body. Finally I will explain the usefulness of a high fibre diet (compared to a low fibre diet) and times when fibre intake needs to be modified.

- Crohn’s and Colitis Australia
The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)
Want to know more about how a Dietitian can help your Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

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