IBD: Crohn’s, Ulcers, & Fermented Foods

inflammatory bowel disease

The Fermented Foods That Help

I've seen cultured vegetables, kombucha, and kefir help with so many gastrointestinal disorders, and I've even witnessed firsthand my son healing from an ulcer that was causing him severe pain every time he ate. Kombucha and kefir have been found to help the healing process with those who have ulcers. The special probiotic bacteria and yeasts in kombucha protect the lining of the gut by reducing the acids that damage the mucous membrane. It was found that this works as well as the prescription drug Prilosec in healing stomach ulcers.[1] Cultured vegetables play a part in healing ulcers as well. Vitamin U, which is not actually a vitamin but a compound called S-methylmethionine, is abundant in cultured cabbage and its juices. It has been shown to successfully treat ulcerative colitis, acid reflux, and peptic ulcers.[2,3]Kefir was something my son consumed every morning, and with this trilogy combination, it helped him heal in about two months. In addition to adding the probiotic foods, he did eliminate any acidic foods that were aggravating his condition.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term for two conditions (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) that are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Our gut bacteria are constantly changing. What you eat at every meal can negatively or positively affect your microbiome. It's not just what you eat but the environment around us - stress, certain medications, and illness all affect our guts. Negative effects on our gut is known as "dysbiosis" which basically means “not living together” and our microbiome isn’t working with us towards optimal health.

Symptoms of dysbiosis can include:

  • Digestive discomforts such as belching, bloating, the urgency to go, constipation, cramping, diarrhea, food sensitivities, foul-smelling stools, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Skin conditions

Our digestive system forms one of the barriers between the outside world and our internal structures. Elie Metchnikoff won a Nobel Prize in 1908 for identifying a link between the digestive system and the immune system. His work demonstrates that by manipulating our intestinal microbiome with friendly bacteria we can enhance our health and boost our immune system's healing power.

Jordan Rubin, founder of Garden Of Life, had serious and debilitating Crohn's disease. In his book, "The Raw Truth," he said he drank several quarts of kefir a day and took other probiotic foods and supplements to heal from this dreaded disease.

Clinical studies in mouse models[4] suggest that probiotics may help reduce flares and prevent complications of Crohn's or colitis such as pouchitis. More studies are needed, but using natural sources of prebiotics and probiotics such as kefir and cultured veggies are good choices to supply probiotics and prebiotics in natural foods choices.

In one study, 34 patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis who had not responded to conventional therapy underwent six weeks of treatment with a high-potency probiotic mixture containing eight strains of probiotics, many of which are also found in cultured foods: Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophiles. The outcome was impressive: 77 percent of participants responded favorably to the probiotic treatment. And there were none of the adverse effects that often accompany conventional treatment.[5,6]

Kefir Trial and Crohn's Disease

A clinical trial in 2018 showed that consuming kefir may help with these symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease and may help to reduce inflammation. Patients with Crohn's disease were selected randomly to receive the following treatment: 400 mL/day of kefir twice a day for 4 weeks. The results determined that in patients using kefir, there was a statistically significant improvement in abdominal pain, bloating, and quality of life when compared with the control group in the last 2 weeks. A statistically significant difference was found in terms of bloating and feeling good when the symptom log data of the first 2 weeks and the last 2 weeks of patients with Crohn's disease were examined. [7]

Prebiotics and IBD 

Prebiotics are fruits, vegetables, and other substances found in food or supplements that support the growth of probiotics in your digestive system. Prebiotics act as a fertilizer to promote the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are mostly varieties of dietary fiber, which the body’s own digestive juices and enzymes can’t effectively break down, thus leaving bacteria in the colon to do the job instead. You want a diverse amount of good bacteria in your gut, and eating cultured foods accomplishes this. Nothing can change you more than adding tons of these types of foods and supplements to your diet.

William R. DePaolo, PhD, the director of the center for microbiome sciences and therapeutics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle says, “If you want to colonize and grow something, you plant seeds. Those seeds would be the probiotics." Prebiotics, in contrast, "are the fertilizer you put on that garden," says Dr. DePaolo. "They help healthy bacteria grow and thrive and maintain a stable population in your gut."

He goes on to say, "people with an IBD like ulcerative colitis are more likely to have an out-of-balance microbiome, a condition known as dysbiosis. This may contribute to disease activity in UC because of the deficiency of compounds produced by healthy bacteria called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Short-chain fatty acids are one of the major molecules that regulate inflammation, They do this by enhancing the effects of a type of immune system cell — known as a regulatory T cell — that helps regulate other pro-inflammatory T cells."

I've written several articles about the importance of SCFAs and Prebiotics. I feel that nothing is more important than eating your fruits and veggies to control inflammation throughout the whole body and learning about the trillions of microbes that help you with IBD and a myriad of other health issues. If you have IBD, then learn about what's happening in your body that is creating this disease, and the many ways your trillions of microbes can assist you in finding a new balance and wellness. Wellness is your birthright. Claim it and focus on it and find your way to wellness like never before. Then you can look back and be thankful for the pain that brought you here. You are a miraculous creation that is designed to keep you well, you've just forgotten how it all works. It starts with what you put in your mouth. Check out some of my favorite recipes below. They could make all the difference.

SCFA and Fermented Foods

Prebiotics Important as Probiotics

 Recipes for Healing IBD

Lemon Ginger Kombucha

Ginger is powerful medicine! I have been consuming ginger often and found it to be very effective in helping with any kind of inflammation.

Milk Kefir Pots

This is a fun and easy way to make lots of little jars of kefir that are ready to serve and handy to take with you on the go.

Blueberry Kraut

This kraut that tastes like blueberries is not only delicious but the juice is incredible too. Check out this recipe for gut healing.

Listen To My Podcast

I've seen cultured vegetables, kombucha, and kefir help with so many gastrointestinal disorders, and I've even witnessed firsthand my son healing from an ulcer that was causing him severe pain every time he ate. Check out the episode to learn more.

References:

 

  1. Cheney, S.H. Waxler, and I.J. Miller, “Vitamin U Therapy of Peptic Ulcer; Experience at San Quentin Prison,” California Medicine 84, no. 1 (January 1956): 39-42: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13276831
  2.  G. Cheney, “Rapid Healing of Peptic Ulcers in Patients Receiving Fresh Cabbage Juice,” California Medicine 70, no. 1 (January 1949): 10-15: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18104715.
  3.  S. Elmståhl, U. Svensson, and G. Berglund, “Fermented Milk Products Are Associated to Ulcer Disease. Results from a Cross-Sectional Population Study,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 52, no. 9 (September 1998): 668–74: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9756124.
  4. http://crohnsandcolitis.ca/Living-with-Crohn-s-Colitis/Diet-nutrition/Recent-Articles-Diet-Nutrition
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15984978
  6. D. Banerjee et al., “Comparative Healing Property of Kombucha Tea and Black Tea Against Indomethacin-induced Gastric Ulceration in Mice: Possible Mechanism of Action,” Food & Function 1, no. 3 (December 2010): 284–93: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21776478.
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6428516/