THIS PAINFUL DIGESTIVE DISORDER CAN BE PREVENTED AND CONTROLLED NATURALLY. ALSO INCLUDED ARE TIPS ABOUT GOOD EATING HABITS THAT WILL PROTECT YOU FROM CROHN’S AND OTHER LIKE DISORDERS.
CATEGORIES: 6: Excess Toxicity, 2: Inflammation
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT: Beta Carotene
THE FACTORY ANALOGY
In my wellness writing, I often compare the human body to a manufacturing plant, a factory. In this case, if the body were a factory the digestive system would function as a supplies intake station (mouth and esophagus), a processing department (stomach and small intestine), and a waste disposal system (colon).
The factory could not sustain itself if the right supplies didn’t come in the front door. It would also have to close if it were unable to break down those supplies and format them for proper use. And if they couldn’t get rid of the production waste, the plant would be overcome with filth and vermin, and again, could not function. You can see that a failure anywhere along this three-part process would mean a failure of the factory itself.
It is the same with the human body. To be successful, healthy, the right supplies have to come in through intake, be formatted for use in processing, and their wastes eliminated through disposal. Without Step: 3, proper elimination, there will be sicknesses like Crohn’s due to excess toxicity, which circumstance leads to inflammation. Like the poor factory, the body will fail.
THE FOOD TRIP
Food enters your mouth where chewing and saliva begin the digestive process. The masticated food is shunted via the esophagus to the stomach, where the real digestive work begins. Stomach acids break down the food until it is a thick liquid called chyme. (Pronounced kime, like dime.) Digestion continues in the small intestine, where the chyme is further processed and most of the nutrients extracted and absorbed.
By the time food matter gets to the end of the small intestine, there is little of value left in it except water, which is extracted as the matter moves through the colon to the anus. Constipation occurs if too much water is extracted from the colon at this point, and diarrhea if not enough is. Crohn’s can affect any part of the Gastrointestinal Tract, but most often affects the colon itself, as well as, the end of the small intestine where it connects to the colon, called the ileum.
|Definition: Gastrointestinal Tract: The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined together in one long, twisting tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. The movement of muscles all along the GI tract, along with the release of hormones and enzymes at appropriate times and places, allows for digestion of food.|
The beginning of the digestive system, the mouth, while not the cleanest part of your body, is fresher than the end, the colon, where final expulsion of waste occurs. The colon has the hazardous duty of being the last stop on the trip that food takes through your body, handling it when it is no longer actually food, but bacterial-infested feces, waste for which your body has absolutely no use and must get rid of in order to remain well.
UNDERSTANDING CROHN’S DISEASE
Crohn’s belongs to a group of disorders known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and presents as open sores and ulcers usually in the lower GI tract. Because of its role in digestion, the soft tissue in your colon and ileum is more or less in continual contact with rotting fecal matter. Crohn’s starts with a failure to completely evacuate this matter over and over, to the point where old feces and colonizing bacteria coat the soft tissue, creating a film of dangerous wastes that never goes away.
When your body cannot timely expel feces, they are held too long and harden over time, while they sit inert inside your lower bowel. This state leads to a sustained microbial-induced inflammatory response in the colon, because the bacterial load is too high for your digestive system to handle. The end result is a toxic, bacterial-laden environment that overwhelms the body and leads to infection, free radicals, chronic inflammation, and Crohn’s.
Crohn’s is considered the most serious IBD and is associated across gender, age, and cultures with an increased intake of animal and milk proteins. Those who eat more fresh vegetables have a lower incidence, which I attribute to both the antioxidants in vegetables, as well as the additional water. This makes sense because it is harder to digest animal protein, and the process takes longer. Meat moves through you like the tortoise, vegetables like the hare. A meat dominant diet can lead to constipation due to the lack of water left in the feces as it tries to exit the colon. Vegetables hold more water during their trip through the colon and therefore can make an easier and quicker exit. The faster you can evacuate feces the lower are your chances of getting Crohn’s, or cancer in that area.
Ideally, you will evacuate often enough that at times the smell of what you ate will still be slightly detectable in your stool. If you had lasagna the night before, you should be able to smell that over the usual odor the next morning. You should move your bowels two or more times a day for good health. Even once a day is not enough, and signals mild constipation. Native tribes living on a largely raw diet will evacuate their bowels up to five times a day—not diarrhea, just normal bowel movements. You can bet they don’t get Crohn’s Disease, because their wastes move quickly through and out. If you’re only moving your bowels a couple of times a week, you’re in big trouble.
If you have Crohn’s your diet doesn’t include enough antioxidants, in food and supplement form, to destroy the free radicals causing oxidation and inflammation in the GI tract. You also don’t get enough enzyme-containing raw foods on a daily basis to ensure complete processing of food in the stomach, assimilation of nutrients in the small intestine, and final elimination of all waste from the colon. Often this is because the foods those with Crohn’s need for good health cause the most discomfort when eaten, so they shy away from them to their detriment. That’s why avoidance of Crohn’s is the best policy.
While scrounging for an explanation of what causes Crohn’s, many in the medical industry have locked on to the idea that it is an auto-immune disorder. I disagree. I’m not saying that after years of having old decayed feces buried in the colon that the immune system wouldn’t be compromised into attacking due to the high bacterial load. I’m saying that the immune system does not cause Crohn’s. It’s role is merely a reaction to the overwhelming influx of colonizing fecal bacteria into the lower GI tract.
Other doctors will tell you that the exact cause of Crohn’s remains unknown. But that’s not true either. They give you all the information you need to proceed when they define it as an inflammation, which is Category: 2 in my Seven Categories of Illness paradigm. It is also Category 6: Excess Toxicity, which is rarely mentioned in any discussion of Crohn’s, but whose role is important in understanding and treatment.
Once again, Crohn’s is actually caused by rampant chronic inflammation brought on by the continued presence of high bacterial fecal wastes rubbing against ulcer ridden soft tissue. Of course there’s going to be bacterial driven infection, free radicals and inflammation, which set the stage for Crohn’s.
|Comparison: Bacteria versus Free Radicals: I use these terms seemingly interchangeably but there is a difference, and they both contribute to Crohn’s.
Bacteria: They are microscopic organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere, especially in feces. They can be dangerous, such as when they cause infections like anthrax and syphilis, or beneficial as when they assist in things like wine fermentation and cheese making. Bacteria are alive, consume matter, move around, expel waste, and multiply their numbers.
Think about where mouth plaque and tartar come from on your teeth. They are the little dead bodies and wastes pooped out by colonizing bacteria. Overnight bacterial growth is the reason for morning breath, which is why you should try to brush your teeth before you eat breakfast, to avoid introducing toxic mouth bacteria back into your system. Bacterial growth and infections also lead to the creation of free radicals
Free Radicals: They are single electrons separated by an injury from their “home” cells. Free radicals are created in numerous ways, including breathing second-hand smoke, getting a punch in the arm, eating a sandwich, and contracting a bacterial infection, to name a few. Each cell in your body has two electrons. As long as both electrons remain within the closed cell, it will be healthy and disease free. When a cell is damaged, each electron involved in the injury will split from the cell and immediately becomes a free radical—a single electron.
The first thing a newly created free radical does is attack and damage nearby healthy cells to create even more free radicals. In turn, those free radicals attack more healthy cells and create more free radicals. This process continues unabated without antioxidant intervention. Free radicals actually destroy tissue and bone and cause nothing but harm inside the body.
THE PROCESS OF INFLAMMATION
When free radical growth reaches a certain threshold, which varies with each individual, you have oxidation in tissue and bone, a form of decay and death. Think of a peach left on the counter while you were on vacation. The rot is the work of oxidation, which is simply free radical overload. Without antioxidants to stop it the decay continues to spread, with toxic dead tissue coming in contact with healthy tissue only to make it sick as well. The end result of this process is inflammation, which is a precursor to Crohn’s, cancer, and other inflammatory disorders.
THE PROGRESSION OF INFLAMMATION IN CROHN’S
Once bacteria attack the body and create a condition, the damage done to cells creates free radicals and the process toward inflammation begins:
Buildup of Old Feces → High Bacterial Load → Free Radicals → Oxidation → Inflammation → Crohn’s Disease
There are a number of unpleasant symptoms associated with moderate to severe Crohn’s. Understanding them teaches us more about the disorder.
Persistent Diarrhea: The cells in the area secrete extra water to cool the heat from the inflammation, but if the colon can’t absorb the extra fluids this process results in diarrhea. What makes it worse is that persistent diarrhea leads to weight loss and malnutrition from loss of nutrients. Anemia is also common with Crohn’s.
Persistent Constipation: How cruel a disease that can give you both diarrhea and constipation, which is just as likely to happen with Crohn’s due to fistula, strictures, and improper digestion along the GI tract.
Fistula: Sometimes an open ulcer can get so inflamed with oxidation that it will eat all the way through an intestinal wall, creating an abnormal connection between it and other body parts, like your skin, bladder, or vagina. Think of it as an inflamed tunnel that leads to these parts. When fistula develop, food can bypass areas of the bowel completely, meaning that partially digested food, along with harsh digestive acids, bacteria, and free radicals, are leaking directly into the abdomen, further spreading inflammation.
Stricture: Inflamed and ulcerated sores sometimes heal and leave scar tissue behind. Inflammation will flare again, heal over again, and leave more scar tissue. Over time this scar tissue narrows the digestive channels, making it difficult for food matter to move through them, and equally difficult to move your bowels. These narrowed passageways are called strictures. They cause a lot of pain and can also cause an actual bowel obstruction, necessitating surgery to clear out the wastes. They have to go up there and dig it out.
Blood In The Stool: Even though you may have open sores in your GI tract, you still have to utilize those areas one or more times a day. Say you go to a summer barbeque, down some grilled salmon, a couple skewers of Cajun shrimp, and two hotdogs. During digestion, that food rubs against the inflamed open sores in the GI Tract. This painful contact causes the ulcers to bleed and the blood shows up in your stool.
Fissure: Inflammation sometimes results in an actual tear in the anus. It is very painful, especially during bowel movements, as the feces grates across the ulcerated cleft, feeling like salt on an open cut. It can lead to rectal bleeding from the tear itself, and from the strain to evacuate.
Increased Risk of Cancer In The Lower GI Tract: It has already been established that Crohn’s is a chronic inflammation, usually occurring in the colon and the ileum. With ulcerated sores continually coming into contact with toxic fecal matter, free radical growth and inflammation become exponential. All inflammation is caused by free radicals, and inflammation is the last step before disorders like Crohn’s or cancer begin. Therefore, if you have Crohn’s you have a highly increased chance of getting colon cancer. If you have a really serious case, that outcome would seem to be inevitable if other steps are not taken. Actress Farrah Fawcett died at 62, after battling three years against anal cancer that began as a fissure.
Urgent Need To Use Bathroom: This irritating symptom gives you the sensation of suddenly having to move your bowels, accompanied by a regular sensation of incomplete evacuation, meaning chronic discomfort.
Other Health Problems: Due to long term malnutrition, Crohn’s sufferers experience myriad other profoundly serious health problems, such as arthritis, eye and skin inflammations, clubbing of the fingertips, kidney stones, chronic low grade fever, fatigue, and stunted growth and physical development in children. Crohn’s can also lead to loss of normal menstrual cycle. Remember, your body was created from nutrition, and it can only grow and function properly with replacement of those same nutrients as they are lost. Crohn’s makes it difficult to take in and assimilate the nutrition you need for good health.
FIGHTING BACK WITH NUTRITION
The best approach to Crohn’s is to prevent it in the first place. If you clean out the fecal wastes regularly you will stop inflammation from developing. All the symptoms associated with Crohn’s have inflammation as the core problem. Inflammation based on excess toxicity. Because you can’t get enough antioxidants in your food to be free of disorders like Crohn’s, you need the additional nutritional protection of antioxidants in supplement form. Specifically, Beta Carotene and D3 will heal the open sores, while the other supplements will keep you regular and your colon cleaned out.
Beta Carotene is the best Antioxidant to stop bacterial overload that leads to free radicals, and therefore oxidation and inflammation. (See Blog 3: The Dangers of Inflammation to learn more.) If you do not get relief with the recommended minimum of 25 softgels (25,000 IU strength) taken twice daily, feel free to increase the dosage to the level necessary to control the disorder. This is only nutrition and will not hurt you. Let me say that again: Beta Carotene will not hurt you. It is perhaps the kindest gift the universe has ever given mammals.
Whatever dosage works to control your inflammation is your specific daily maintenance dose of Beta Carotene, no matter how high it is. On most days I take from 100 to 200 softgels depending on my inflammation load, because that’s what it takes to be pain free. I will not accept less than zero tolerance when it comes to pain and sickness, so I don’t care how many softgels it takes as long as it works. I get enough mail to know that I should add here that 100 to 200 softgels is not a typo, and no I don’t mean milligrams or IUs. I mean softgels.
My usual maintenance dose of Beta Carotene is 100 softgels daily—50 with breakfast, and 50 with dinner. I do this and then thumb my nose at cancer, which no longer scares me. There is no chance I can get cancer while taking these high daily doses, because I’m controlling free radical growth that leads to inflammation and cancer. That also applies to the hundreds of other inflammation disorders. So, don’t worry about the number of softgels, worry about the results.
Vitamin D3 is a support vitamin for Beta Carotene. Never take Beta Carotene without also taking Vitamin D or the result will be a Vitamin D deficiency. Beta Carotene uses up Vitamin D during processing and assimilation.
Lecithin is an emulsifier and will help keep your digestive system running smoothly. It will emulsify old, hardened feces that are stuck to your soft tissue, and clean out your colon. It will prevent the buildup of new feces, making it easier to move your bowels regularly.
Calcium/Magnesium will increase the frequency of your bowel movements and soften the consistency of the feces, ensuring that you evacuate all wastes within 12 hours, or less, of having eaten. It stands to reason that there is less bacteria in feces that is only a couple of hours old, as opposed to feces that is a couple of years old. Quickly eliminating feces is vital to preventing and treating Crohn’s.
Aloe Vera Gel will sooth open raw sores in your burning digestive system. Many people keep an Aloe plant in the kitchen in case they burn themselves, because of its known healing properties. Anyone with sunburn will attest to this as well. Aloe will do the same thing inside your GI tract that it does on the outside of your body, sooth burning inflammation. If you take Aloe Vera orally on a regular basis you will notice that your bowel movements do not smell as bad.
|CROHN’S DISEASE Quick Glance Chart __________________________________________________________________________|
|Beta Carotene (softgels only)||25 softgels or more||25 softgels or more||Puritan’s Pride #1223||25,000 IU (equivalent to 15 mg)|
|Vitamin D3 (softgels only)||2 softgels or more||2 softgels or more||Puritan’s Pride #17621||2000 IU|
|Lecithin (softgels)||6 softgels||6 softgels||Puritan’s Pride #303||1200 mg|
|Calcium/Magnesium||3 tablets||3 tablets||Puritan’s Pride #4082||500/250 mg|
|Aloe Vera Gel (softgels only)||2 softgels||2 softgels||Puritan’s Pride #2682||5000 mg|
ANTIOXIDANT FOOD SOURCES
It’s important to eat a diet high in antioxidant foods. But make no mistake. Even if you eat these foods 24/7, you cannot get enough antioxidants through food alone to protect yourself from serious inflammation that can lead to Crohn’s and cancer. You must add antioxidant supplements to be completely safe.
Almost any vegetable or fruit with deep coloring is going to contain antioxidants. In most cases, the deeper the color, the higher the antioxidant levels. Eating more of these fresh foods will increase your daily intake of antioxidants and fight infection and inflammation. Fresh is preferred, frozen is tolerated, and canned is prohibited, unless that is all you have access to.
Here is a short list of foods, but they are not in any particular order after Acai berry, which is the number one food for antioxidants.
GOOD SOURCES FOR ANTIOXIDANTS
Acai berry (usually consumed as juice) • Small red beans • Blueberries (wild are better) • Spinach • Red kidney beans • Cooked collards • Pumpkin • Pinto beans • Cranberries • Carrots • Mangos • Artichokes hearts • Kale • Parsley • Blackberries • Papaya • Broccoli • Prunes • Raspberries • Strawberries • Red Delicious apples • Cooked mustard greens • Granny Smith apples • Sweet (black) cherries • Black plums • Brussels sprouts • Black beans • Red Plums • Gala Apples. There are other vegetables, fruits, and legumes that contain antioxidants but are not mentioned here, so don’t be afraid to experiment. And don’t forget the benefits of freshly juiced vegetables and fruits in keeping you healthy. A juicer is a great investment in good health.
You’ll notice that beans are listed as good sources of antioxidants. You get more taste and better texture when you cook dried beans from scratch. Dried beans are also more nutritious and less expensive than canned beans. They are easy to prepare, and don’t have to be soaked overnight. You just have to simmer them longer if they haven’t been soaked.
GENERIC RECIPE FOR COOKING BEANS
Rinse a cup full of beans and throw them in a saucepot with about 3 cups of water. (You will need to add more water during cooking time.) • Add spices to taste (sea salt, black pepper, chopped garlic clove or garlic powder, and a dash or two of ground Cayenne red pepper—if you like the heat). • Also add a small chopped onion, carrot, and fresh tomato. These vegetables are meant to flavor the beans and will disappear into the mixture by the time they are cooked. • Stir from time to time and add water as needed. • Keep the top of the pot ajar during entire cooking time to permit the indigestible sugars to cook off, and avoid intestinal gas. • Cook the beans until tender and a thin sauce has formed. • Overtime you will see how easy it is to work with dried beans, and will create your own herbal combinations to flavor them.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM CROHN’S
One way to protect yourself from Crohn’s, besides getting more antioxidants in your diet, is to follow this simple rule: Never eat anything cooked without having something fresh/raw at the same time. This will help ensure complete evacuations. My solution is to eat fresh fruit with breakfast. This translates usually as a combination of banana, pear, berries, or cantaloupe blended with 1% milk into a thick shake. When I want eggs and toast, cereal, pancakes or waffles, I’ll simply have a small fruit garnish on the side. If I’m eating lunch, I’ll have a small side salad—sometimes this translates simply as the fresh lettuce on a tuna sandwich, but I’m still following the rule. I have a green salad every night with dinner. Sometimes a big salad with my favorite cheese is all I eat for dinner. I choose from the following fresh produce and other items to create my salads:
FRESH SALAD FIXINS’
Romaine hearts • Arugula leaves • Chicory • Frisee • Red or white cabbage European mix • Spring mix • Bib lettuce • Spinach • Endive • Escarole • Celery • Tomatoes • Cilantro • Red onion • Persian cucumber • Raisins • Scallions • Parsley • Sprouts • Cranberries • Cauliflower florets • Carrots • Mushrooms • Radishes • Green, red, or yellow peppers • Apples • Grapes. I also sometimes add cottage, cheddar, Swiss or fontina cheese. Other times I opt to choose from toasted sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs, chunks of tuna, chicken strips, or tahini paste. Sometimes I eat it plain, vegetables only, with my favorite store bought dressing, Annie’s Shitake Sesame. You may add any other of your own favorite fresh salad items.
I also enjoy crunchy iceberg lettuce as a wedge salad and as an ingredient with other lettuces. If I’m not eating a wedge, I add chopped iceberg directly to my salad at the last minute, because it oxides quickly, ahead of the other ingredients. If I keep the iceberg separate, a large bowl of salad will last three days in the refrigerator without browning, especially if it contains cabbage. Salads with cabbage seem to last longer.
HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSING
It’s a good idea to sometimes make your own salad dressing. I know there are a lot of good commercial dressings available, but the purest experience is to simply mix red wine or rice vinegar with extra virgin olive oil (yes, it should be extra virgin), in a 5 to 1 ratio. Five parts oil to one part vinegar. Add your favorite seasonings like sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, dill, etc. For enhanced flavor add several raw onion rings to soak in the dressing. Onion adds a nice flavor, and they get “pickled” over time, making them delicious additions to sandwiches and meats.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which contains 75 percent of its fat in the form of oleic acid, a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid, has many health benefits, especially for the cardiovascular system. One reason that Extra Virgin is better than Virgin Olive Oil or Olive Oil is the way that the oil is extracted from the olives for each of them.
When making Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the gorgeous unripe olives, fresh from the trees, are run through a mechanical press only, resulting in that lovely greenish hued liquid. Because Extra Virgin Olive Oil is oil from the first pressing it contains the most nutrients and has the delightful taste of fresh olives. No heat or chemicals are permitted in the pressing or it can’t be called Extra Virgin. It couldn’t be more natural.
The same smashed olive mash left from the first pressing is run through the press a second time and called Virgin Olive Oil. Heat and/or chemicals are used to extract more oil because it is faster and cheaper to do it that way. Virgin is not as smooth tasting as Extra Virgin. Again, this same mash left from the first two pressings is pressed a third time, and called simply Olive Oil. They use heat and/or chemicals to extract the oil, which can taste bitter, and it has less flavor compared with Extra Virgin and Virgin.
Keep in mind that the mash left from the first and second pressings, what is destined to become Virgin Olive Oil, and Olive Oil, will have a large number of free radicals in it due to the damage done to the olives in the first and second pressing. Free radicals not found in Extra Virgin.
EVOO, as Rachael Ray likes to call it, can get very pricey in most supermarkets. Trader Joe’s sells large, 33.8 fluid ounce bottles for $6.99 to $8.99, a real bargain for a quality product.
Please be nice to each other, and look for my next blog: Blog 34: Essay 3: The Psychology of Weight Loss & Control, where I tell you how to manipulate the primitive nature of your body to avoid weight gain.
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