Crohn’s disease and alcohol


Crohn’s Disease and Alcohol: Ultimate Guide to Drinking

Table of Contents

Crohn’s Disease and Alcohol, Your best options!

People think that if you have an IBD like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis that you shouldn’t take a sip of alcohol. In a perfect world that might be the case. In reality, most of our social interactions revolve around some form of drinking. Not having a drink is not always an option. I get it, you want to have fun with your friends, feel like you fit in, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’m writing this article because like you I’m a human being. I enjoy having a drink and I want you to be able to do the same. Pretending that someone with an IBD will never have a drink is completely naive. The key is learning how & what to drink and do minimize or eliminate any negative effects.

Is it SAFE to drink with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?

I bet you’re wondering if you can drink with an IBD? You might think all forms of alcohol are bad for your IBD’s? I don’t think that anyone can give you a black and white answer with this. For most people it depends where you are in your healing journey that dictates what you are able to tolerate. Some people might not be able to consume any alcohol without causing them issues. If this is you don’t worry because as you heal you’ll be able to enjoy a few drinks.

Which Alcohol is the safest for people who suffer from IBD’s?

In my experience people tolerate these the best options:

  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Rum
  • GIN
  • Dry red or white wine, champagne (lower the sugar the better)
  • RYE (try with caution because usually contains gluten)

Worst Alcohol for Crohn’s & Colitis

The BIGGEST offender when it comes to drinking with an IBD is undoubtedly BEER! It’s fermented beverage that contains lots of yeast. Beer is a NO GO! since virtually everyone with gut issues will have underlying issues with Candida (yeast). You’ll find drinking 1-2 beers will likely cause IBD symptoms such as:

  • Bloated & sore stomach
  • Redness & pressure increase of eyes
  • Loose bowel movements
  • in excess FLARE Ups

Best Beer for Crohn’s & Colitis

I’m telling you from experience it’s not worth trying to drink beer. If you think you can tolerate it I urge you to test it by drinking 1/2 cup or less and see how it makes you feel. Beer tends to give most normal people without IBD’s, gas and bloating the next day. Even after 10 years of remission I don’t feel optimal when I consume beer. This sucks because I enjoy a cold beer on occasion, but my problem is only having one.

If you decide to go Rogue and consume beer consider trying Low Carb Options like:

  • Michelob Ultra
  • Corona Premier
  • Miller Lite
  • Budweiser Select 55

I’ve learned to love RUM and it’s now my drink of choice. Only 1-2 times per year do I have a Cold Corona with a lime.


Try not to abuse alcohol as it can be an IBD Trigger. If your going to have a night out then pace yourself. Have a few drinks and try not getting completely blitzed.

You can see in a previous study that alcohol with sugar and yeast caused the most gut issues.

DRINKING TIPS for Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis :

  • NO BEER! (Avoid as much as possible)
  • Ask for your drinks to be served tall with with just a little bit of ice. This way you can milk your drink for longer without having to get another one.
  • Have water in between drinks (spread out your drinks and minimize the effect on your gut)
  • Everyone has their thoughts about diet pop but but I would suggest using it over regular sugar laced cola products. Another alternative to pop is a product called Zevia (sweetened with stevia) which you can buy at your local grocery store or whole foods. Root Beer is my favorite!
  • Now Coca Cola has a new Stevia infused option which tastes pretty good
  • You can try “pressing” your drinks with water or club soda and try adding some stevia for sweetness.
  • Get a water and lime and simply pretend you’re drinking. I’ve done at parties and the club and it works! Nobody knows they just see you drinking.
  • Blame the gym and say your keeping the drinks to a minimum to stay lean (Hard to diss someone who’s just trying to grind to look good)
  • Make sure to take a good probiotic (1-2 capsules) when you get home from your night out. Do this every time you have a few drinks, no exceptions.

What IF I drink too much Alcohol (Recover without Flaring)

I’m not an advocate of drinking too much with an IBD but “life” happens. I’ve been out with my buddies where I say those infamous words “I’m only going to have one or two” which leads to 8-10+. I end up hammered and my gut has paid the price. I end up getting the hershey squirts and feel like crap! This is bad because your body dumps a lot of your good bacteria in an already compromised gut.

So if you end up in this situation: make sure you take at least 2 probiotic pills as soon as you get home. Then you need to take 2 more in the morning once you’ve cleared everything out of your system. Your stomach is going to feel pretty tender and you probably won’t have much of an appetite. Try not to force eating and give the probiotics as much time as you can to do their thang. Try to fast (not eat) as long as you can to give the gut time to recover. Fasting also minimizes the immune responses to food since nothing is going in. If you decide to eat make sure to keep the carbs low and also stay away from nuts or beans to minimize lectin exposure. I’ve used this strategy multiple times and was never thrown into a flare because of drinking too much.

I’ve Been in your shoes

I remember what it’s like to be in my early 20s where I hit the club like 3-4 times a week. It can be difficult to go out with your friends and feel like the odd ball. You might slip up and I wrote this article to help you get through these times.

Remember you’re playing the long game right now, which is to achieve long term remission. Once you heal your gut you can be less strict. I believe that once you experience what it feels like to feel truly awesome, you won’t care about being like everyone else.

In Conclusion.. drinking Alcohol with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

I know you are going to drink so try and do it with caution. Be mindful of how you feel afterwards or the next day. I’ve had a few experiences where I overdid it, and paid the price. I did the stuff I mentioned in this article then got back on track. Healing is not a perfect science, you are going to make mistakes (fail forward). Don’t beat yourself up about it, learn from it and get back to healing. You got this, trust me!

Im 35 years old and I’m passionate about health and I try not to overdo the drinking. When I go out with my friends I rarely exceed 4 drinks a night. I own who I am… a dude that enjoys a drink, but cares more about being healthy. I drink when I attend social functions but I do it on my terms.

If your looking for help to overcome your gut issues feel free to check out my free guide.

Can I drink alcohol if I have an IBD like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?

Yes you can drink alcohol if you have an IBD. But you should learn to drink strategically so it won’t affect your health. Drinking when you’re experiencing flare symptoms would not be recommended.

Can alcohol cause a Crohn’s or Colitis flare up?

Excessive amounts of alcohol can cause flare symptoms. Alcohol can kill off good bacteria and/or promote the growth of opportunistic organisms like Candida Albicans.

Best & Worst alcohol for Crohn’s or Colitis?

Best choices are ones that are low in carbohydrates and don’t contain excessive yeast such as: vodka, rum, tequila, gin, and dry red wines.
Worst choices are beer, and any high carb sugary liqueurs or drink mixes.

Is Beer Bad for Colitis?

Yes beer is probably the most troublesome alcohol for anyone that suffers from an IBD like Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.

Does alcohol make Crohn’s or Colitis worse?

In most situations drinking alcohol is not recommended if symptoms are active. If you have an autoimmune condition your liver is likely toxic and overburdened. You should try and get your disease into remission before you start regularly consuming alcohol.

Substance Abuse


As you navigate college and grow more independent as an adult, you will likely be in social settings where you may be exposed to alcohol. Alcohol can affect each IBD patient differently, so you should know the risks of consuming alcohol just as you would for the medications that you are taking to treat your disease. The use or abuse of alcohol or other drugs, either illicit or over the counter can have damaging effects on your GI tract, including your liver, and may interfere with your medications, (example: Flagyl/Metronidazole). Alcohol can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, cause malabsorption and bleeding in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is best to avoid consuming alcohol until you are of legal age. No matter your age, always be sure to talk to your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe while you are taking your IBD medications.


There are many health risks associated with smoking, including but not limited to lung cancer, and heart disease. But did you know that smoking can also make IBD symptoms worse? Smoking cigarettes can trigger flares, and people with Crohn’s disease have more frequent need for surgery and medications that suppress their immune system.

If you are experiencing a difficult time with overconsumption of alcohol, or any other drugs, it’s important to seek help. There may be student counseling services available on your college campus that can offer support and guidance. Be sure to check your school’s directory for more information.

Herbs and Supplements to Treat Crohn’s Disease

For people with Crohn’s disease, hope comes in the form of achieving and maintaining remission as long as possible. There are several prescription medications that can help you manage your symptoms. But some people are turning to alternative medicine.


One remedy that has been researched is Boswellia serrata. Boswellia supplements are derived from trees that produce a sweet-smelling resin rich in carbohydrates, essential oils, and boswellic acids. The acid in the resin is the active ingredient. It’s believed to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

One recent study found that 14 out of 20 people with Crohn’s who received boswellia supplements achieved remission.

Boswellia is sold in health food stores as a dietary supplement. It’s also sometimes used to treat asthma, inflammation, and depression.


Turmeric is a spice that is related to ginger. It gives curry its bright yellow color. Research spanning the past two decades suggests that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has several medicinal properties that may be helpful to people with Crohn’s. They include:

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • anti-cancer properties
  • anti-amyloid properties
  • anti-arthritic properties

It also has antioxidant characteristics and is anti-microbial. This may help fight infections in people with Crohn’s.

According to research, one major challenge in using turmeric to treat Crohn’s is delivering a high enough dose. This is because people with Crohn’s have trouble absorbing turmeric during digestion. Currently, researchers are developing different ways to deliver turmeric into the body for maximum absorption.

Additionally, the health risks of consuming turmeric must be considered for each person. The compound may worsen gallbladder illnesses, interact with blood-thinning medications and interfere with iron absorption. When curcumin is in the body, it may also act similarly to hormones. You should speak to your doctor before taking this supplement if you have a condition that’s sensitive to hormones.

Green Tea

Green tea is popular across the world. Health enthusiasts have long touted the many health benefits of green tea over the years, but its effects on the bowels and colon are still being researched. In recent rodent studies, green tea was found to reduce colon inflammation as well as the Crohn’s medication sulfasalazine. It also reduced rodents’ risk of colon cancer. It’s unclear if green tea has the same effects on people, but there are no risks in consuming it.


Marshmallow is more than just a sweet white dessert you roast over the fire. An herb called marshmallow that comes from the Althaea officinalis plant has been tapped for use in treating Crohn’s.

Recent research suggests marshmallow can soothe tissues during healing, especially in the stomach. This reduces inflammation in people with Crohn’s. Additionally, the root protects the lining of the stomach. This reduces stomach acids with no apparent side effects on the body.


N-acetylglucosamine is a supplement most often derived from shellfish. In some tests, it has been linked to success in treating autoimmune disorders. The supplement can stop cells that produce inflammation. One study found that N-acetylglucosamine supplements reduced colon inflammation in children with Crohn’s with no negative side effects.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which strengthen bones. As a result, it’s become a staple in many multivitamin supplements on the market.

Recent studies suggest vitamin D may be helpful in treating Crohn’s. Chronic vitamin D deficiencies are common in people with Crohn’s. Some researchers have found that chronic vitamin D deficiencies can lead to inflammation in the stomach and colon. By adding vitamin D back into the diet, people with Crohn’s may help minimize symptoms and increase immune system health. Since Crohn’s is caused by a malfunction in your autoimmune system, providing a boost to your body’s immune system can be a bonus.


Vitamin B-12 is important for making new cells and breaking down fats and proteins in the body. It also protects nerve cells and helps make red blood cells.

People with Crohn’s commonly have B-12 deficiencies. Recent research suggests that supplemental vitamin D can help diminish the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It can also aid in recovery from anemia, a common nutritional disorder among people with Crohn’s.

The Takeaway

Herbs and supplements can complement your treatment plan. However, you should always consult your doctor before starting any of these treatments. They may interfere with your current medications, allergies, or existing health conditions.

My life with Crohn’s has not been easy.

I remember lying in my hospital bed watching a commercial for iced tea. Everyone was running around in the sunshine listening to happy, uplifting music. Never before had I been so jealous of people doing something so simple. I was 16 and it was 2006, five years after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had an intestinal blockage and was hospitalized for five days while hooked up to a nasogastric (NG) tube that sucked out bile that was blocking my small intestine. It was my first time being admitted to a hospital, and every day there was the possibility that it would also be my first time undergoing surgery to remove part of my intestine. I remember feeling terrified; I had never been in such a severe medical state. Fortunately, the NG tube prevented surgery, and I was able to go home five days later.

Five years before, when I was in seventh grade, I started losing weight. I wasn’t really having stomach pain, just constant diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. My pediatrician had an inkling that it could be Crohn’s disease but sent me to a gastroenterologist to find out for sure. I had a colonoscopy and was officially diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in my large intestine. I was in such bad shape that I had to go immediately from the colonoscopy to an infusion center in the same hospital, where I spent five hours hooked up to an intravenous device that injected medicine to reduce the inflammation in my intestine. I had to continue the infusions for a while, plus I was taking almost 20 pills a day. When friends came over and saw the collection next to my breakfast cereal, they were stunned.

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Crohn’s disease is a more serious form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that usually develops in the lowest parts of the small and large intestines but can also occur elsewhere in the digestive tract. Symptoms include loss of appetite, chronic diarrhea, cramping, pain in the abdomen, and weight loss. Stress can worsen symptoms but doesn’t cause the disease.

Although we don’t know all the factors that lead to the development of Crohn’s disease, a recently discovered gene may point the way to new treatments and even to a way to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place. The gene is linked to a cellular receptor for interleukin-23 (IL-23), a protein involved in immunity and the inflammatory process. New anti-inflammatory drugs in the pipeline may work for Crohn’s disease and for other forms of IBD as well, such as ulcerative colitis.

While Crohn’s disease can’t yet be cured, it can be managed successfully and can remain in remission for long periods of time. Conventional medicine treats it with a variety of drugs, nutritional supplements and, when necessary, surgery. My personal preference is to first send patients with Crohn’s disease to practitioners of modern Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture and herbal remedies in addition to dietary adjustment and, possibly, massage and energy work. I have seen some very good results from this approach. Ayurvedic medicine, radical dietary change, and long-term fasting (under supervision) can also be helpful. A high fiber diet may also provide a benefit, but during the active stages of the illness, raw fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts will irritate the digestive system.

You can also try the following approaches, which may help bring the disease under control:

  • Avoid coffee, decaf, all other sources of caffeine and all stimulant drugs.
  • Avoid milk and all milk products.
  • Avoid products sweetened with sorbitol, xylitol, or other sugar alcohols.
  • Take slippery elm in the form of gruel: Combine one teaspoon of the powder with one teaspoon of sugar and two cups of boiling water. Stir well. Flavor with cinnamon and drink one or two cups twice a day.
  • IF cramping is a problem, take enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil between meals to relieve the spasmodic component of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Practice breathing exercises for relaxation.
  • Because stress can worsen symptoms, take a course in biofeedback or experiment with hypnotherapy and guided imagery to use the mind/body connection to heal the gut.
  • Consider psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to work on emotional conflicts that can exacerbate symptoms.
  • To address inflammation, increase your dietary omega-3 fatty acids by taking supplemental fish oil, start with one gram a day and increase slowly to two to four grams a day. watch for any increase in diarrhea, and cut back the dose if necessary.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Meal Replacement Shakes and IBD

Article written by
Alison Channon

Meal replacement shakes can be a good option when inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) leaves you unable to tolerate solids, struggling to get enough nutrients, or trying to gain or maintain weight.

“Eating more makes me feel awful,” a MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam member wrote, “so I’m researching meal-replacement powders/shakes to add in some crucial calories and nutrients.”

Another member shared: “I have lost over 40 pounds and I haven’t been able to gain any weight. I have been looking for a protein drink or meal replacement drinks. Do you guys know of any that would help me gain weight?”

The trick for many people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is finding the meal replacement shakes that work for them. Some members can’t tolerate any drinks with dairy while others swear by adding Greek yogurt to their smoothies. As one MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam member advised, “Only you can determine what you can and can’t eat.”

Members have found the options below beneficial.

  • Commercial shakes like Ensure or Boost.
  • Commercial protein powders.
  • Homemade protein shakes: “I make shakes with frozen bananas, avocados, and protein powder.”
  • Homemade smoothies: “My new protein drink in the morning really helps my digestive system.
  • One cup of kefir mixed with six ice cubes and two fruits. Make a delicious protein drink for breakfast. 😋”

These can be a good place to start if you’ve never tried meal replacement shakes. Always be sure to check labels for triggering ingredients or modify recipes according to your food needs.

On MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Meal replacement shakes are one of the most discussed topics.

Here are some question-and-answer threads about meal replacement shakes:

  • Dairy-free meal replacement shake?

  • Do you guys know of any meal replacement drinks that would help me gain weight?

  • I’m wondering if anyone has experience with a semi-liquid or liquid diet

  • What meal replacements keep you going?

  • Our 9-year-old son was put on a mostly liquid diet

Here are some conversations about meal replacement shakes:

  • “My new protein drink really helps my digestive system.”

  • “What is a good meal replacement shake or drink to help with Crohn’s?”

  • “Eating makes me feel awful so I’m researching meal replacement powders and shakes to add in some crucial nutrients and calories.”

Have meal replacement shakes helped you? Share your experience at MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam.

Alison has nearly a decade of experience writing about chronic health conditions, mental health, and women’s health. Learn more about her here.

Liquid Diet and Crohn’s

For most people, a diet high in fiber that encourages regular bowel movements is the goal. If you have Crohn’s disease, however, you may be interested in a diet that reduces the number of daily bowel movements you have. Thanks to special diets customized to your needs, relief is possible.

If you have Crohn’s disease that affects the small bowel, you’ll eventually experience a narrowing of part of the small intestines called the ileum. This may cause pain and cramping during bowel movements due to the residue certain foods add to stool.

Often doctors prescribe corticosteroids, which are steroids that help reduce inflammation in the body, to help ease Crohn’s disease flare-ups. Modifying your diet can also help minimize the more severe symptoms of Crohn’s. The key is to achieve a low-fiber and low-residue diet, which is generally done by limiting intake of foods that are hard to digest, such as:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • raw fruits
  • vegetables

Once the symptoms begin to decrease, you may gradually add these foods back into your diet.

How the Liquid Diet Works

When Crohn’s flare-ups are at their worst, temporarily adhering to a low-fiber, low-residue liquid diet can help your digestive system recover. The two primary types of liquid nutrition used for people with Crohn’s disease are whey-protein formulas, which are made from dairy, and elemental formula, which is hypoallergenic and does not contain soy or dairy. These formulas are high in calories and nutrients so you can stay healthy without eating any food.

Which formula and how much of it your doctor recommends depend on the severity of your Crohn’s disease symptoms and overall health. Your doctor may recommend either a full or partial liquid diet. The amount of formula you’ll need to drink each day depends on your:

  • age
  • gender
  • weight
  • activity level

Enteral Nutrition

Some people find it difficult to consume enough formula to maintain their health. In many cases, children, in particular, may struggle with consuming enough formula to stay healthy because they don’t like the way the formula tastes. If this is the case, their doctor may recommend enteral feeding, or a feeding tube inserted through either the nose to the stomach or directly into the stomach, to deliver the formula into the body.

People with Crohn’s have reported decreased symptoms when taking enteral nutrition. Researchers believe that bypassing part of the normal nutrition process helps ease the strain on the digestive system. One recent study suggests that people with Crohn’s disease who receive at least half of their daily calories through enteral feeding “had a significantly lower relapse rate” than people on an average diet of solid food.

While it’s helpful for treating a Crohn’s disease flare-up, many people, both adults and children, find enteral feeding uncomfortable and sometimes impractical. Research suggests that most children find whey-protein formulas more palatable than elemental formulas. If children don’t have any dairy allergies and don’t tolerate enteral nutrition, giving them whey-protein formula can help treat their Crohn’s disease. For dairy intolerance sufferers, pure pea protein, rather than whey derived from milk, may also be worth exploring.

Drawbacks of the Liquid Diet

One drawback to a liquid diet of any type is the disruption to your daily routine. By cutting solid food out of your diet, you might unintentionally cut down on your participation in social gatherings with family and friends.

Liquid nutrition can be especially disconcerting for children who simply want to fit in at school and with friends. For liquid nutrition to help induce remission, children have to stay on the diet for six to eight weeks, and continued supplemental liquid nutrition is required for years afterward. While a child can veer from the diet occasionally, it’s important for you to make sure the majority of your child’s diet is liquid during the treatment period for it to be most effective.

Other issues with enteral nutrition are price and taste. Liquid formulas and enteral-feeding supplies can cost as much as $200 per week. Some people complain about the taste of liquid formulas. It’s important to communicate with your doctor about any difficulties you may have with your liquid diet so that they can tweak it to best fit your needs.

Plant-Based Protein Brand OWYN Announces ‘Drink To Donate’ Campaign Supporting The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

NEW YORK, July 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Innovative 100% plant-based protein brand OWYN is thrilled to announce its exciting partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation with a commitment to donate 100% of sales from OWYN’s new Meal Replacement Shakes during the month of August.

Mark Olivieri, Chief Marketing Officer of OWYN states, “There is a new consumer in nutrition looking for cleaner, transparent alternatives. OWYN’s mission is to deliver truth and transparency in everything that we do. This is why we are winning share from legacy brands in the ready-to-drink nutrition market. We are excited to continue this mission with the introduction of our meal replacement line.”

“The Foundation’s mission is to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life for the more than 3 million Americans living with these debilitating digestive diseases,” said Laura Wingate, Senior Vice President, Education, Support, & Advocacy of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “One way we do this is by partnering with companies like OWYN to raise awareness of Crohn’s & colitis, and we are appreciative of their support of our mission.”

Not your average protein drink, OWYN is slaying the old guard with the introduction of its completely clean plant-based and nutrient-dense Meal Replacement Shakes. The shakes serve as the perfect supplement for those suffering with digestive disorders or those looking for a proper meal replacement. Unlike traditional meal replacements, OWYN’s Meal Replacement Shakes are made without artificial ingredients, harmful chemicals or fillers – just pure whole goodness to give you only what you need from the inside out.

OWYN’s Meal Replacement Shakes go through an extremely rigorous allergen test to ensure they are free of the top 8 allergens, preventing any cross-contamination. Available in two delicious flavors, Chocolate and Chai, the new Meal Replacement Shakes are both packed with 20 grams of protein and deliver the 9 essential amino acids and 23 vitamins and minerals per bottle. Each shake meets the nutrition requirements of a complete meal with 300 calories per serving.

OWYN is proud to offer Meal Replacement Shakes that are suitable for these dietary needs and is also Monash University Low FODMAP Certified. OWYN Meal Replacement Shakes are available for purchase on

About OWYN™

OWYN™ (Only What You Need) is a platform of plant-based products made for people who wish to live a clean, inspired and transparent lifestyle. The products contain only real, simple, all-natural ingredients and free of the top eight allergens including dairy and gluten and are non-GMO, nutrient and superfood dense. To learn more about OWYN visit or follow them on Instagram @liveOWYN.

About Halen Brands, Inc.

Halen Brands, Inc., founded in 2015, is a privately held operating company focused on the food and beverage industry. Current investments include OWYN™, Road Crew Clusters, Chef’s Cut Real Jerky and CORE Hydration. Company executives also played a key role in formulating and bringing to market Mamma Says Biscotti, Inc. and Sensible Portions Veggie Straws, as well as investing and partnering with Dippin’ Chips, Mrs. Thinster’s, Rickland Orchards and SkinnyPop Popcorn.

About the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is the leading non-profit organization focused on both research and patient support for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The Foundation’s mission is to cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life for the more than 3 million Americans living with IBD. Its work is dramatically accelerating the research process through our database and investment initiatives; it also provides extensive educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public. To learn more about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, visit or follow them on Instagram @crohnscolitisfoundation.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation does not endorse this product or any products. Dietary modifications, including the addition of a meal replacement, should be discussed with your doctor, healthcare provider and/or a dietitian prior to consumption. Statements or opinions expressed by OWYN do not necessarily reflect the views or any official policy of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.


Alcohol and Crohn’s Disease

Alcohol and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These are a group of conditions that lead to inflammation of the bowel. The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Irritable bowel syndrome is another condition that produces symptoms similar to inflammatory bowel disease but does not involve any structural abnormalities. Those who drink a moderate amount of alcohol may find that it helps with the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, but anything more than this and it makes the condition worse. Alcohol can also interfere with the medications used to treat the symptoms of IBD. This is why many of those who suffer from these diseases choose to avoid alcohol completely.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include:

* Diarrhea is the most common symptom for people with Crohn’s disease.
* Blood in the stool
* Abdominal pain and cramps
* Weight loss
* Lack of appetite
* Ulcers in the intestine. Some people will also develop ulcers in their mouth.
* Fistulas between the anus and rectum and the surrounding skin
* Peri-rectal abscesses

Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s disease is often confused with ulcerative colitis because the symptoms are quite similar. The main difference between these two is that ulcerative colitis only causes ulcers in the rectum and colon. Crohn’s disease can lead to ulcers in the small intestine, and other parts of the digestive tract.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease

Scientists are still not complete sure about the cause of Crohn’s Disease. This condition is likely to arise due to a number of factors including:

* Crohn’s disease appears to run in families so there is highly likely to be a genetic component to this condition.
* Those people who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop Crohn’s disease as non-smokers.
* The immune system in people with Crohn’s disease appears to be overactive. This means that it kills friendly bacteria in the intestine and cause inflammation as a result.
* It has been suggested that an infection picked up in childhood may cause problems with the immune system in later life.
* The modern western lifestyle seems to be a contributing factor to this condition. Crohn’s disease has become much more common in the west since the 1950s.

Moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects for some people with Crohn’s disease. The exact reason for how it helps is not clearly understood, and it is not suggested that people should take up drinking in order to help with their symptoms. Those individuals who drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol will almost certainly make their symptoms worse. The other problem with drinking alcohol is that it can interfere with the medications that are used to control the condition. This is why many people who have Crohn’s disease will avoid alcohol completely.

Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

There is no real cure for Crohn’s disease and so the main aim of treatment is to manage the symptoms of the condition. Crohn’s disease can be controlled using medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes. The most commonly used drugs include:

* Steroids can be used to reduce inflammation. This is a powerful type of drug that may lead to unpleasant side-effects if used long-term.
* Immunosuppressants work by suppressing the activity of the immune system.
* Aminosalicylates are an alternative to steroids for treating inflammation.
* New biological therapies involve using naturally occurring chemicals to treat the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Most of those individuals who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease will need to have surgery at some point of their life. This is because the medication stops being effective at controlling the inflammation. The typical surgical treatment for Crohn’s disease involves cutting away the inflamed area.

Lifestyle and Crohn’s Disease

There are things that people can do to help manage the symptoms of Crohn’s disease such as:

* The individual should only drink sensible amounts of alcohol. For some people the only sensible amount will be no alcohol.
* It is believed that certain foods can worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. People should be careful when eating; spicy food, fatty food, high-fiber food, and dairy products.
* Eating small meals regularly may be better than eating large meals.
* It is helpful if people keep a diary tracking their food intake and their symptoms. This way they will develop a better understanding for how to manage their symptoms.

Glutamine and whey protein improve intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness where part of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and ulcerated marked with sores. Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The cause of Crohn’s disease is not known. It is likely that there is a genetic component. About 20% of people with Crohn’s disease have a blood relative with a form of IBD.

Crohn’s disease may involve the immune system. The immune system of a person with Crohn’s may treat bacteria, food, and other substances as foreign invaders, leading to chronic inflammation from the accumulation of white blood cells in the lining of the intestines and resulting in ulcerations and injury to the tissues.

Conventional medicine says there is no cure for Crohn’s Disease and the goals of treatment are to reduce inflammation and to relieve symptoms of pain, diarrhea, and bleeding. There are several types of drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease. The first step usually involves reducing inflammation. Many people are first treated with sulfasalazine (Azulfidine). Corticosteroids such as prednisone are another class of drugs that reduce inflammation. Crohn’s disease may also be treated with drugs that stop the immune system from causing inflammation.

Patients that seek an alternative functional medicine or nutritional approach can have hope. Conventional medicine never addresses or tries to correct the underlying immune problem. They never investigate the environmental influences that can be influencing or expressing the genes. Therefore, there is no cure and medications are used to simply suppress the patient’s immune system.

There is a wealth of published research on increased intestinal permeability aka leaky gut and autoimmune disorders including Crohn’s diease. A recent study in Dig Dis Sci 2011 Oct 26, showed significant improvement with intestinal permeability and morphology in patients with Crohn’s diease by using glutamine and whey protein. Glutamine is the major fuel for the enterocytes in the gut.

Eighty percent of the immune system is found in the gut. Every patient with Crohn’s or any other autoimmune disorder must have their gastrointestinal health assessed. There are several other things in addition to glutamine and whey protein that can help keep their condition in remission and prevent a relapse. It is important for these people to get an IgG food sensitivities test. Once completed, it is important to remove these foods that are causing inflammation and autoimmune reponse. Patients may also require digestive enzymes or HCL depending on the state of their GI tract. Next, it is important to reinoculate their gastrointestinal tract with probiotics to obtain proper microbial balance. Last, add glutamine to repair the intestinal mucosa.

On my products page, Designs for Health has great GMP products for these patients. I use their Glutamine powder, PaleoMeal DF, and GI Revive. The PaleoMeal DF (Dairy-Free) is a plant-derived protein powder, a natural pea protein concentrate o­ffering a high level of functionality and nutritional benefits. It is free of casein, lactose, and gluten. I like this product since many patients with autoimmune disorders have food sensitivies and commonly have problems with diary and gluten. GI Revive provides comprehensive support of gastrointestinal health and function. It provides therapeutic levels of L-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine, MSM, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow, chamomile, okra, TOA-free cat’s claw, quercitin, and mucin for comprehensive support of optimal gastrointestinal health. Prunus and citrus pectin are included to aid regularity. I use Klaire labs for my probiotics. They have a climate controlled facility and a patented InTactic delivery technology that enables the bacteria to withstand the stomach acid. They are a GMP 9000 registered facility with independent product testing with rigorous manfacturing standards and provide excellent clinical results with my patients.

Glutamine and whey protein improve intestinal permeability and morphology in patients with Crohn’s disease: a randomized clinical trial. Benjamin J, Makharia. G, Ahuja V, et ai. Dig Dis Sci 2011 Oct 26

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