Crohn's disease: FAQs

Vitamin D may help fight Crohn's disease symptoms
Vitamin D may help fight Crohn's disease symptoms

1. Can probiotics induce remission in active Crohn’s disease? 
At this point in time there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that probiotics may induce remission in active Crohn’s disease. More high-quality studies are required before a recommendation can be made. 

2. Can probiotics maintain periods of remission in Crohn’s disease? 
There are no recommendations regarding the use of probiotics to maintain periods of remission in Crohn’s disease. Discuss the use of probiotics with your healthcare team. 

3. Should I restrict dairy products? 
Milk and dairy products can be tolerated by some people with Crohn’s disease, whereas others prefer to limit the intake of dairy products as it may exacerbate abdominal pain and/or diarrhoea. Work with your healthcare team to assess your individual tolerance to lactose.

Even if you’re lactose intolerant, you could probably still handle up to 12-13g of lactose per day (200ml milk).

If you’re restricting dairy products, it’s important to work with your dietitian to ensure that you are getting enough calcium. This is important to ensure good bone health. 

4. Should I take an omega-3 supplement? 
The jury isn’t yet out on whether omega-3 supplements benefit those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). More studies are needed to better understand the effect of these fatty acids on IBD features and at what dosage omega-3s would provide benefit, if any.

If you have Crohn’s disease, the recommendation is simply to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

This includes eating at least two servings of fatty fish (sardines, pilchards, snoek, trout, salmon, tuna steak and mackerel) per week. 

5. Do I need to consider taking nutritional supplements? 
Nutritional supplements may be indicated if:

  • You’ve lost more than 10% of your body weight (i.e. you’re showing signs of malnourishment)
  • You have a partial obstruction and you’re waiting to have surgery 
  • You have severe symptomatic peri-anal disease 
  • You’re experiencing post-operative complications

Reviewed by Kim Hofmann, registered dietitian, BSc Medical (Honours) Nutrition and Dietetics, BSc (Honours) Psychology. December 2017.

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