What would you think if I had a leaky roof that was causing water stains in my ceiling and all I kept doing was painting the stains with white paint or cutting out sections of my ceiling every time it rained?
Hopefully you’d tell me to switch my brain on and get my roof fixed.
But unfortunately, the typical ways that inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) is viewed and handled makes about as much sense as covering up water stains with paint or cutting out chunks of the ceiling.
Unless a leaky roof is fixed, you’re going to keep getting stains, and unless the true underlying causes and factors behind IBD are addressed, you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll keep suffering.
Here’s what I mean:
Two main “branches” of IBD
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are painful, debilitating conditions that affect about 1.6 million Americans.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon (large intestine) and/or rectum.
UC causes poor digestion, explosive bowel movements (as many as 30 or more a day), rectal bleeding and pain.
Crohn’s disease can occur in any area of the digestive tract, but it typically strikes the small intestine.
Crohn’s symptoms include abdominal pain and explosive diarrhea. Also common are constipation, fevers, canker sores, clubbed fingernails, fistulas (little canals where wastes can seep out) and intestinal blockages.
Plus Crohn’s sufferers are prone to weight loss, malnutrition and deficiency diseases since the inflammation in the small intestine affects nutrient absorption.
What’s going on behind the scenes?
Genetics can play a role in IBD (you’re 10 times more likely to get it if your parents have it), plus environmental factors that destroy your intestinal flora (such as medications like antibiotics and other toxins) can be part of the recipe too.
But most significantly, IBD is one of a growing number of autoimmune diseases—in this case your immune system sees normal tissue in your intestinal tract as a dangerous invader and launches an attack.
This stirs up fires of inflammation as you fly to the bathroom.
The typical answers—the Band-Aid approach (with lots of risks)
Medications to reduce inflammation and prevent a resurgence of symptoms are usually the first line of treatment, but they all come with their share of risks.
For example, steroids can help reduce the inflammation, but they also can cause bone loss, folic acid deficiency, cataracts and mood swings, and quadruple your risk of lymphoma.
Immunomodulators counteract the mixed-up immune reaction going on—by shutting down your immune system. So that means you’re lacking the protection of your immune system–and are far more susceptible to viruses, infections and disease.
When medications don’t do the trick, surgery is usually next. At least one out of three people with UC will face surgery, and 70 percent of Crohn’s sufferers will go under the knife.
Although removing some or all of an inflamed intestine may provide relief, possibly facing a J-pouch or colostomy is no picnic.
Plus after surgery IBD can just “pack up and move down the street” and recur in another area.
At least 30 percent of Crohn’s patients who have surgery experience recurrence of their symptoms within three years, and up to 60 percent will have recurrence within ten years.
The risks of other diseases popping up
Unfortunately when you have IBD, that might not be all you have to deal with.
People with Crohn’s or UC have a higher risk for colorectal cancer. The poor digestion and chronic inflammation seen with IBD can create a very unhealthy intestinal environment.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is also a possibility. PSC is severe inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts between the liver, gallbladder and small intestine.
In addition, patients with IBD have a 10-25 percent increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.
This may seem odd, but it’s just another way inflammation is manifesting. With IBD it’s your GI tract and with heart disease it’s your blood vessels.
Don’t just paint the ceiling—help fix the roof!
When you help to address some of the underlying issues behind colitis and Crohn’s, you can start to see a huge difference in how you feel!
Here are some options to consider:
Vitamin D is numero uno. Vitamin D helps to tame the out-of-control inflammatory action of a mixed-up immune system that is attacking healthy tissues.
Probiotics are stars too, because they help repopulate your supply of friendly, protective intestinal bacteria which may be taking a major hit from antibiotics and other medications. Plus they also help support sound digestion and nutrient absorption—two serious concerns for IBD sufferers.
Eating simpler meals comprised of meat OR starch (but not both) paired with vegetables can also help. The protein and starch combination can be difficult for your body to tackle, so when you pair meat OR starch with vegetables, you can make your body’s job easier and help keep things quieter down below.
And as far as cooling down inflammation goes, Nature is always best—and I’m talking about Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 EFAs are Nature’s anti-inflammatory, and a top quality fish oil formula can help make sure you have the benefit of these natural little protectors.
If you have colitis or Crohn’s, you’re not alone and you’re NOT hopeless!
See what a difference it can make to give your body a little natural help from within.