Juicing and IBD

“Man, you know what your problem is? You got no juice.” (“Juice”, 1992).

With IBD (Crohn’s and Colitis), often it is difficult to eat enough vegetables or fruits; the fiber can be killer during a flare up. Even when we are symptom-free, we can be more sensitive to fiber from fruits and vegetables than gut-normal people. So what do we do? Most of us stay away from those foods (at least for a while), or limit our quantities.

But our bodies need them. We need the vitamins; we need the minerals; we need the enzymes; and we need the calories. So, what do we do?

One alternative you can use is to lightly or moderately steam your vegetables, and lightly cook, peel, and puree your fruits. This breaks down the fiber matrix and makes them more easily digestible. I did this during the first few months of the SCD, and it helped me to be able to eat a wider variety of vegetables (leafy greens like spinach, and hard vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and beets; good fruits like apples, peaches, and pears). However, when we are healing, we often need a larger quantity of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and nutrients for rebuilding, than we would if we were well.

What else can we do to get the valuable nutrients and healing properties of vegetables and fruits?

You can juice them! Read the rest of this entry


As I was going through my files today, I realized that I wrote this post in November, and never posted it. Oops. So, here it is.
This is the third in our series on vitamin supplementation. If you read posts 1, 2, and 3, on this topic, you’ll remember that we’re taking an executive summary approach—what you need to know about vitamins and IBD. This means I’ve avoided lengthy discussions of each of the B-vitamins, for example. If you want to learn more, take a look at my reading list. This post was compiled using Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and What to Eat with IBD.
The next post will go into micronutrients. I will conclude this series with a few different supplement plans and some recommendations for good multivitamins.
Vitamin C
About: Vitamin C is probably the most important water-soluble anti-oxidant in the body. It is abundant in fruits and vegetables, but I mention it here because people with active IBD generally don’t eat enough of either, and what fruits and vegetables are eaten are often mal-absorbed.
Vitamin C quickly decreases during stress and infections. Stress is more than just mental/emotional. Infection, chronic inflammation, extremely high levels of exercise, daily contact with environmental toxins, lack of sleep—these all are stresses on our body. Read more about the effects of stress here.
The reduction in vitamin C is partially because during times of stress and/or infection the liver works in overdrive to detoxify the body. It’s main go-to mechanism uses glutathione, which requires Vitamin C to make. In fact, supplementing with 1500 mg of vitamin C has been shown to increase glutathione levels (read: increases the body’s ability to detox and fight infection) by close to 50%.
Benefits: Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means that it cleans up free radicals around the body which cause cell damage. Its role as an antioxidant makes it an essential cancer and heart disease fighter (among others).
Vitamin C is also involved in immune function, wound healing, allergic reactions, helps Iron uptake, helps preserve capillary integrity, increases glutathione levels in the liver (read: helps in detoxification), and is a natural antiviral/antibacterial.
It’s main effect is to increase immune function. Vitamin C is important in increasing white blood cell response function, it increases interferon (anti-cancer), improves the integrity of mucus membrane linings, and increases thymic hormone levels. It has been shown to increase liver function (by increasing glutathione levels), and it also increases the intestine’s ability to absorb iron by 2-4 times.
Dietary Sources: Vitamin C is good to take with bioflavonoids because they have been shown to increase Vitamin C concentrations in the body and increase it’s efficacy. Citrus, tomato, melon, peppers, greens, raw cabbage, guava, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, potato are all good sources of vitamin C.
Recommended dose for IBD: 500mg 3x/day.
The B Vitamins: Folate (separate below), B12, B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Pantothenic Acid (B5)
About: The B vitamin family is involved in enzyme formation and function, normal growth, synthesis of nucleic acids (the molecules that carry our genetic information), normal apetite and digestion, and is essential for healthy nerves.
Vitamin B1, B2, and B5 are also important in immune function. Deficiencies can result in decreased antibody responses to infectious agents, decreased white blood cell counts, and atrophy of the thymus and lymph tissue.
B12 is important to single out for those with Crohn’s damage and/or inflammation of the ileum. Since B12 is absorbed in the ileum, those with significant damage or a shortened small intestine may not absorb B12 at all, even in supplement form. These folks should talk to their doctor about B12 shots as lack of B12 causes pernicious anemia.
Benefits: Avoid all the nastiness mentioned above. B vitamins also increase general energy levels, and can be an effective treatment for mild depression.
Dietary Sources: Animal products—Some dairy, liver, eggs, chicken, pork, beef. Plant products are traditionally not high in B vitamins, but fortified cereal and grains can be a good source. Vegetarians can try legumes (including peanuts for Niacin, B6, Biotin, and Thiamine), potatoes, broccoli, yeast, and wheat germ.
I don’t supplement B-vitamins individually. Instead, I use an SCD-friendly B-complex with vitamin C and zinc. Recommended dosages for B-vitamins will vary depending on the level of disease activity, its location, and your diet. I take 1-2 of these per day.
About: I mention Folate separately because of it’s particular importance in health, and because of its ubiquitous deficiency in people with IBD. Nearly everyone with chronic intestinal inflammation can benefit from supplementing with Folic acid.
Benefits: Folate is essential for nucleic acid synthesis (Remember, DNA, RNA, etc.?). Deficiencies lead to impaired cell division, and altered protein synthesis. The effect is most pronounced in rapidly growing tissues (for young, growing people…) and tissues which regenerate often (like the intestinal mucosa). This is important. Research has shown that proper Folate levels can help rapidly dividing cells from becoming damaged or abnormal (cell dysplasia), and can prevent cancer. For those with ulcerative colitis, supplementing with Folic acid may reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 46%.
Folate is essential for red blood cell formation, for fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Some IBD medications decrease folate absorption. Sulfasalazine is one such drug.
Dietary Sources: Dark green leafy vegetables—Kale, spinach, romaine; also, asparagus, broccoli, liver, legums, eggs, fish, yeast.
Folate is the natural form, but most supplements provide it in the form of Folic Acid. Your multivitamin should have Folic Acid already, so look at the label. The US RDA for Folic Acid is 400 mcg, but remember that is for a gut-normal person. I get 800 mcg from my multivitamin, and 400 mcg from my B-complex. That is plenty.
Onward to Health.