IBD & “Natural Remedies”

** Let me start out by saying that I’m not a doctor, and I don’t recommend any of what I do or don’t do without first and foremost connecting with your health care team to get personal advice on personal health decisions such as supplementation **

So exactly what are supplements?  Supplements are basically a manufactured product intended to supplement the diet when taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid (think vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids etc.).   People often refer to them as “natural remedies” because unlike other treatments, they don’t require a prescription and can be found in most health food stores.

So Janine, what supplements do you use that you find beneficial? This is the question I get asked the most so here they are, MY personal TOP 5 “natural remedies” (supplements) that I have used (4 out of 5 on a daily basis) that have helped me not only in bodybuilding, but in managing my Crohn’s Disease as well.

  • GLUTAMINE – the most abundant amino acid in the body.  It’s important for immune function and in ANIMAL research, it has shown anti-inflammatory effects. Evidence shows glutamine supplements MAY benefit certain conditions such as Crohn’s Disease. Some studies on glutamine have shown promising results in patients with metabolic or gastrointestinal disorders, however; currently there is insufficient evidence to allow firm conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of glutamine for induction of remission in Crohn’s disease. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26853855)  I also did a post on Instagram about if I could have a superhero it’s name would be Glutamine. You can find that here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BaNHPJTlySr/
  • PROBIOTICS – full of live microorganisms intended to provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving gut flora. Considered “good bacteria”, probiotics are thought to enhance digestion, and the processing of foods through the intestinal tract.  There is evidence (non-conclusive), that points towards probiotics being somewhat helpful in keeping flares under control. Choosing the right probiotic is important.  Here is a helpful article that look at a few things to consider when selecting and taking a probiotic supplement: https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/look-selecting-right-probiotic/
  • DIGESTIVE ENZYMES – These guys help break down food so we can soak up nutrients. Lipase (breaks down fats), amylase (breaks down carbohydrates), and proteases and peptidases (break down proteins). Sometimes our bodies don’t make enough digestive enzymes and this can slow the digestion process and lead to uncomfortable symptoms. At this time there is little evidence that show digestive enzymes to be helpful in managing IBD, however: my personal experience has proven them to be an invaluable part of managing my symptoms.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly as omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits of supplementing with Omega-3 are reported as numerous. Studies have consistently observed a connection between higher omega-3 intake and reduced inflammation and have been shown to demonstrate positive impacts on conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. I did an Instagram post on my favourite Omega-3 and you can find that here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Ben2inHFC5d/
  • MARSHMALLOW ROOT – is a perennial herb that is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa.  It’s been used as a folk remedy for thousands of years to treat digestive, respiratory, and skin conditions. I personally have used Marshmallow Root during a flare for its possible implications in treating ulcers and repairing gut lining. Although most of the studies have been done on rats and is not conclusive, the potential health benefits have caused me to seek out relief from Marshmallow Root on several occasions.  I did an Instagram post on Marshmallow Root and you can find that here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf6rQfVlOWD/

I also want to quickly discuss the supplements that I DO NOT use as I think this is equally important (sometimes its also about what you’re not doing). I used to live in the world of fitness competitions and being sponsored by a supplement company was common. Believe me, I’ve tried almost ALL of them, and the amount of artificial ingredients (i.e. Sucralose, Aspartame, Food Dyes, Stevia, Sugar Alcohols) in things like Protein Powder, BCAAs, preworkouts, recovery drinks etc., always made me feel like garbage.  Even though I’m still in the gym daily, I refuse to take these products and have noticed a significant improvement in my overall Crohns symptoms. Sugar Alcohols, Sucralose and Whey Protein are really difficult for me to digest and tolerate so I avoid them altogether as best as I can.

AND LASTLY – Just a little reminder: Every person is unique as is every diagnosis of Crohns Disease.  What is helpful for me or someone else, may not be helpful for you.  These are great starting points, however; I always recommend trial and error to see what works best for you and managing your symptoms.  I would also suggest researching the possible benefits and potential side effects of each of these supplements listed to see if this is something that fits into your personal beliefs and treatment plan. As a holistic nutritionist I’m always interested in hearing what has worked well (or not so well for others), so please feel free to let me know if the comments section. Your story could possibly help someone else.


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