If you have chronic digestive issues it may be hard to determine what the root cause is. Even worse, if you have lactose intolerance and see blood in your stool you may be wondering if there is something more going on. In this article we will look at what your symptoms could indicate, how Lactose intolerance (LI) and Crohn’s disease (CD) differ, and emerging science that outlines how nutritional elements can help mitigate these conditions.
Blood in Stool, Lactose Intolerance? What You Need to Know
People with LI are not able to digest the lactose found in milk and dairy products. If they accidentally ingest lactose they may find themselves suffering an array of symptoms. Typically lactose intolerance can cause bloating, excess gas, loose stool, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea with no blood, in correlation with the consumption of dairy. While stool with blood is not typically associated with lactose intolerance, there are a few rare exceptions. Trauma or infection can cause bloody stools alongside Lactose intolerance. More on Lactose intolerance.
Crohn’s disease, also known as regional enteritis, is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). CD is a sibling of other auto-immune disorders branched under the umbrella of IBD. About 1.6 million Americans have IBD. Crohn’s is a serious disease that causes inflammation in any part of the digestive tract…even the mouth and esophagus. Typically though, it most often manifests within the colon. Those with Crohn’s disease have some symptoms similar to LI, but the intensity is much more severe. Those with CD will notice inflammation, sore joints, fever, unexplained weight loss, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, abdominal pain, and a stuffed feeling in their gut. In severe cases, those with CD will experience mucus, blood, and pus mixed in with their stool.
More severe presentations of Crohn’s disease can include arthritis, skin lesions, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, gallstones, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, hepatic abscesses, autoimmune hepatitis, chronic bronchitis, bowel obstruction, and much more. Even more troubling is that CD can cause anemia due to malabsorption issues, as seen with other autoimmune conditions. It is important to get CD diagnosed as it attacks the digestive tract and needs treatment. Untreated CD poses a real risk of Death.
Q & A, Quick Take on Crohn’s Disease
- Could I have Crohn’s disease? If you are experiencing symptoms beyond the scope of regular LI, then more investigation, with the guidance of your doctor, may be necessary.
- Are there genetic factors that contribute to the development of Crohn’s? Not always, but Crohn’s disease often runs in families.
- How common is Crohn’s in the developing world? Crohn’s disease is much more common in the Western developed world and in places that have adopted a Western-style diet.
- Could our modern diet be contributing to Crohn’s disease? Though CD is often genetic, there is some evidence that our modern food practices may be exacerbating our food allergies.
- Is what I have Crohn’s disease, Celiac, Lupus, or something else? Under the umbrella of auto-immune diseases, there are many similar sub-categories. It takes a medical professional, equipped with an in-depth evaluation and lab results, to diagnose or determine which of these diseases relate to you. In some rare cases, it is possible to have more than one of these diseases, simultaneously.
Can Crohn’s Disease Cause Lactose Intolerance?
It’s worth noting that those with Crohn’s disease are more likely to have lactose-intolerance. So if you have one, you might as well get tested for the other. CD is a much worse disease, and if left untreated, can cause disability and other serious health problems. If you know you have lactose intolerance and see blood in your stool, you may want to get tested to see if you have Crohn’s disease as well. Knowing is half the battle. It’s important to get the nutrients your body needs and stave off further complications related to these diseases. Long term malabsorption from CD can have serious implications for your health.
Healing Crohn’s Disease with Diet & Lifestyle
Though Crohn’s is incurable, there are a few food choices that you can make to significantly improve your digestive health. It begins with avoiding highly processed, unnatural foods products, and instead incorporating healthier, nutrient-dense foods. The strength of our immune system begins in the stomach. There is an old saying: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” is one of the first to attribute a correlation between food and health. Though he lived over 2,400 years ago, his wisdom is as true today as it was back in his time.
In a paper published in the National Library of Medicine, a group of doctors had this to say about inflammatory bowel disease:
“Recent research shows that westernized diets are associated with a reduced gut microbial diversity (dysbiosis), which may result in increased susceptibility to IBD and other common chronic diseases. Plant-based diets rich in dietary fiber are associated with increased microbial diversity. Recent reports on IBD therapy that replaced westernized diets with plant-based diets achieved far better outcomes than those previously reported in the literature. We believe that westernized diet-associated gut dysbiosis is the most ubiquitous environmental factor in IBD.”
It’s important to not just know the cause of our ailments but to also come up with solutions for recovery. Outlined below are just a few healthy foods that you can easily add to your diet to start feeling better.
- Fresh Organic Olive Oil – The oil found in olives can do a great deal to heal your colon. This fatty oil coats the intestinal walls and allows for better assimilation of nutrients. Phenolic compounds found in olive oil directly reduce inflammation.
- Cod Liver Oil – Has been a go-to remedy for hundreds of years and successfully helps treat and/or mitigate a variety of ails affecting the gut. Its unique properties are said to help with Crohn’s disease.
- Coconut Oil – Healthy fats are the key to getting your Crohn’s under control. Coconut oil naturally provides anti-inflammatory benefits. It also helps to lessen harmful bacteria that may contribute to Crohn’s disease symptoms.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Organic Garlic – in moderate amounts garlic does wonders for the immune system and digestive tract.
- Avocados – The natural fat and fiber found in avocados balances the digestive tract. This savory fruit also adds bulk to fecal matter in the colon and helps with easier elimination. Avocados also help bring in beneficial bacteria which are an integral part of our immune system.
- Blueberries – This amazing brain food is great for the bowels too. They are loaded with antioxidants and protect against intestinal inflammation.
- Asparagus – This vegetable is a natural prebiotic and helps to replenish good bacteria in the gut. One of the main issues with CD is that it tears down the good bacteria which can damage the intestines over time.
- Wild-Caught Fatty Salmon – The Omega 3s in salmon naturally reduces inflammation associated with CD.
- Organic Turmeric – This spice is a natural anti-inflammatory, has antiseptic properties, and is antimicrobial. This combination adds a healthy boost to the immune system.
Foods to Avoid
- Highly processed commercial food products
- Boxed and pre-packaged convenience foods
- Refined sugars and carbohydrates
- Fried Foods
- Fast Food
Remember that everyone’s body is different. As always, discuss these issues with your healthcare provider. Pay special attention to how your body reacts to certain foods and you can even try an elimination diet to determine which foods are problematic for you.
Today more than ever people are gaining access to health information that can help transform their lives. You too can equip yourself with the knowledge to choose the right foods for your body. Here at Lactose Free Life, we want to empower you to live your best, most healthy life. Provided with this new information, now you can try some of these amazing remedies and see what works for you. You have the freedom and power to make choices that best impact your life. Adoption of these food practices may and often do dramatically improve the quality of life for those who suffer from Crohn’s disease.