‘How can I get enough nutrients if Crohn’s disease seriously limits my diet?’

One Starts at 60 reader is concerned about getting enough nutrition from food. Source: Getty

Q: I am having great difficulty with getting enough nutrition from food, as I can’t eat fibrous foods (the reader has Crohn’s disease)

One of the most important nutritional tips for people with Crohn’s disease is that you can still get a variety of nutrients from carefully chosen fruit and vegetables that are low in fibre. Nutritionists and dieticians can supply you with an extensive list of low-fibre food options. It may surprise you to know that many vegetables and salad items have are very low in fibre.

The highest amount of fibre is found in wholegrains, beans and legumes, which some, but not all, people with Crohn’s may find difficult to digest.

Very-low-fibre, high-nutrient-density vegetables are peeled and cooked carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato and baby spinach. These vegetables are full of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A that has been demonstrated to be beneficial to gut health. Low-fibre fruits are melons and peeled apples and pears.

Essential fatty acids are other important nutrients for bowel health. These are found in fish and, to some extent, grass-fed meat. Fish provides a high-density protein for healthy bowel tissue and a good supply of the essential fatty acid omega 3. Omega 3 is a potent anti-inflammatory that provides a protective factor for the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

Q: What can I use instead of coconut oil and cream, as many people can’t consume coconut products with certain medicine?

If you are looking for an alternative to coconut oil and cream in a recipe, you can use bland oils such as grape seed oil and add coconut essence to help flavour the food. For a creamy feel to foods such as curry, try using yoghurt stirred in at the last minute to thicken and give a creamy texture.

Coconut oil is generally well tolerated, but it may increase cholesterol in those with high-cholesterol tendencies. Always check with your health care professional to see if coconut interferes with your prescribed medication.

Q: I’m worried about my husband. He has kidney disease and everyone tells us different things about what is good for him on his diet. I need help! Can you can give me a list on what is good or not good for him to eat?

There are many factors that need to be taken into account if a person has kidney disease, particularly if there are other conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, so it is important that you ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian.

A person with kidney disease will need advice on changes to the diet on the intake of protein, salt, potassium, phosphorus and fluid intake and because this is dependent on the stage of the disease, expert advice is recommended.

If you have a question for Starts at 60’s health experts, email it to [email protected].

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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