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What a recent IBD book says about diet

September 12, 2000

This year the first edition of a book titled Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis hit the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble. Since it was co-written by medical writer who has Crohn Disease as well as a prominent gastroenterologist, I read the slim volume with interest. It covered the basic facts and treatments of IBD in a clear and concise manner. It pointed out that 66% to 75% of people with Crohn Disease will have at least one surgery (p.74). It stated that individuals with colitis should have regular colonscopies after eight years because of the greatly increased risk of colon cancer*. In addition, it explained that adjusting your habits will not significantly improve your health. In particular diet has no effect on IBD: There's no "conclusive evidence that any particular diet has any influence on the occurrence of a flare-up, or that any particular diet helps bring on reduction of symptoms any faster." (p.45)

The statistics indicate that there's a good chance you'll be either be under the knife or renewing your relationship with Go-Lytely and the steel stallion (colonoscopy) on a regular basis. Since the food you eat has no effect on your digestive system, forget about adjusting your diet. Just sit back on the couch with a big bag of Doritos, rent some movies, and enjoy your life. You're not going to die from UC or CD. You may have to visit the hospital a few times and take some pills each day but it's all normal.

I've followed the SCD for three years but after reading that diet has no effect on IBD, I've decided to stop.** It probably won't be long before I return to my pre-diet days. I'll be exchanging my morning runs for an aching lower back and arthritically sore shoulder joints. My blood tests will return to their anemic levels. The doctor will again be able to inform me that my liver tests are equivalent to that of an alcoholic (although I didn't drink at the time). I'll no longer work start-up company hours or further my education after work. I'll simply plug into the television, eat my pasta, and ignore the stomach pain...

(yeah right!)

...actually with the statistics stacked against you, it should be motivation to try the diet and anything else to improve your health. If you want to be around more than a few more years, you want to be as healthy as possible. If food isn't being digested properly, it will continue to lead to the problems. Despite what anyone else says, you need to find the source of the problem, find out what's causing it, and what keeps you healthy. Period. If not, you're not going to feel as well as you can. The SCD is a good place to begin--and you may not have to search further.

*Of course, UC and the fear of cancer and may be eliminated by removal of the offending organ.

**2/5/02 This line was meant to be sarcastic. I'm still using the diet and the only serious health problems I've experienced were after a three week trip to India in 1/2000. Other than that episode, I'm quite healthy, happy, medicine-free and sticking with the diet:) Without the diet I would probably be miserable, living in my parent's basement as opposed to having the energy to earn a MS degree at night, get married, move to NYC, etc.

Reference: Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
       by Jon Zonderman and Rondald S. Vender, M.D.
The co-author of the book, Jon Zonderman, notes that he recently underwent surgery for Crohn Disease.