Stomach pain is a common symptom that many of us experience from time-to-time. However, when this pain is chronic or impacting your day-to-day life then it could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as IBD. We’ve heard of the term IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but it’s not to be confused with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), which is becoming just as prevalent in today’s society.
Here, we look at IBD, focusing on the two main types of IBD, which are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. We’ll identify the symptoms of IBD to look out for, as well as potential causes and therapeutic treatments that may help. Read on to learn more about the different types of IBD.
What is IBD
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition characterised by inflammation in the digestive tract. It includes two main types: Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD affects millions of people worldwide, causing a range of symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Both Crohn’s disease and UC are characterised by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, triggered by an immune response to the gut. Furthermore, both conditions have a genetic predisposition and increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer (colon cancer).
What is the difference between IBD and IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are two distinct conditions that share some similarities in symptoms, but have fundamental differences. One key difference between IBS and IBD is that the former is classified as a syndrome, which is defined as a group of symptoms, while IBD is classified as a disease.
Types of IBD:
The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. If you suspect you may have either of these conditions, you should speak to your GP as soon as possible. Find out more about each of these types of IBD below:
Crohn’s Disease (CD):
Crohn’s Disease is a type of IBD that can affect any segment of the gastrointestinal tract, but it most commonly affects the colon and small bowel. It’s a lifelong condition that can be unpredictable in its course. Although it can be diagnosed at any age, it is usually diagnosed before the age of 30. In the UK, it is estimated that at least 1 in every 323 people are living with Crohn’s Disease. The inflammation associated with Crohn’s Disease affects the digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste removal processes in the body, leading to the common symptoms of the condition.
One of the key features of Crohn’s disease is its involvement in all layers of the bowel. The bowel, which consists of the small and large bowel, has three layers in its walls. If the inflammation penetrates through the middle and outer layer, it can lead to the formation of abscesses or fistulas.
Symptoms of Crohn Disease:
Depending where the inflammation occurs within the gastrointestinal tract, the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease can vary greatly. The main symptoms of Crohn’s can include (but are not limited to):
- Stomach pain/cramps
- Weight loss
- Blood in stools
Causes of Crohn’s disease:
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is undetermined but it is widely believed that genetics play a role in the development of the condition. Another main factor in the development of the condition is the role of the immune system. In Crohn’s, it has been found that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues of the digestive system,causing painful ulcers and inflammation in the gut. An abnormal immune response such as this is medically referred to as an auto-immune disease.
Immune response: research suggests that in Crohn’s, the gut barrier is compromised/ impaired. The gut barrier allows important nutrients into the gut and keeps harmful substances out. Without this protection, the immune system can start to attack certain bacteria or viruses that live in the gut, causing inflammation
Gut flora: it has been found that people with Crohn’s have fewer varieties and less diversity of beneficial bacteria in their gut than people who do not have the condition.-
Environmental: a range of environmental factors have been considered to increase the risk of Crohn’s such as:
- Certain types of antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Treatment/reducing symptoms for Crohn’s disease:
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s. However, there have been several effective treatments to help gain control over the symptoms and prevent future flare-ups and help to maintain remission..
Medicine: although there are medications for Crohn’s disease which -can help to reduce symptoms and control inflammation, many are associated with unwanted side effects. and need to be taken long term.
Surgery: although surgery will not cure Crohn’s disease, it can treat complications and help improve symptoms. For example, this could be surgery to treat fistulas (abscesses), bleeding or any obstructions.
Reducing stress: although stress is not directly linked to Crohn’s, it does strongly impact the symptoms of IBD. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and CBT are a few examples of stress reduction techniques.
Diet: as with many aspects of our health, diet plays a role in the treatment/management of Crohn’s. Those with Crohn’s are more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies due to the potential for malabsorption of nutrients from the affected bowel lining and the diarrhoea that often accompanies the condition. This can have an impact on the way the body functions and energy levels. It is very important that people who have Crohn’s disease follow a nutritious diet and avoid any foods that seem to worsen symptoms. Addressing potential nutrient deficiencies through the diet and, if necessary, supplementation, can help to reduce some of the symptoms that are associated with the condition and prevent future flare-ups.
A balanced, nutritious diet can also help improve the balance of gut bacteria residing in the gut and it is recommended that the following (not limited to) are explored:
Avoid over processed foods: processed foods may exacerbate symptoms of Crohn’s disease. – They often contain additives and are high in sugar which can not only impact the microbial balance in the gut but also contribute to increased inflammation in the gut..
High Omege-3 fatty acids: Oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which can provide an anti-inflammatory effect for Crohn’s.
Macronutrients: A high protein, high fibre, low carbohydrate diet is recommended
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals): fresh fruit and vegetables provide important micronutrients that are often deficient in Crohn’s. Eating a wide variety and including a ‘rainbow of colours’ in the diet can help to increase intake of these important vitamins and minerals. (A broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement may also be of use to ensure adequate intake).
Minimise alcohol and caffeine: they may make symptoms worse during a flare-up and can further impact the gut wall lining.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
The second of the two main types of IBD is Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the gut, resulting in inflammation and the formation of ulcers in the colon and rectum. The inflammation typically begins in the rectum and may gradually extend to involve the colon. The onset of UC is most common between the ages of 15-40, while there’s another peak of incidence between the ages 55-65 years old.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis may vary in severity and periods of remission are normal. The symptoms of UC can also be different for each individual. These symptoms of this type of IBD can include (but are not limited to):
- Urgent need to poo (sometimes with stomach pain)
- Blood in your poo
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis:
While the exact causes of this type of IBD are still not fully understood, several factors have been identified that may contribute to the development of Ulcerative Colitis, including (but not limited to):
Genetics: UC has been found to run in families,- certain genes have been associated with an increased risk of developing the condition.
Microbiome composition: research is still in the early stages, however it may suggest that people who suffer with UC may have a different microbiome composition to people who do not. Further studies are needed to better understand the interplay between these factors and their impact on the development and progression of UC.
Abnormal immune response: this can trigger inflammation in the large intestine.
Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis:
Medication treatment: Conventional drugs have been used to treat UC for maintaining remission. However, around 30% of people have experienced side effects including nausea, vomiting, headaches, rash and fever (to name a few).
Surgery: in certain circumstances, surgery is considered. There are two operations that are recommended:
- Removal of the entire colon (colectomy)
- Removal of the entire colon and rectum and creation of an external stoma (an opening in the abdomen through which wastes are emptied into a pouch)
Diet and nutrition: as mentioned above with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis is not caused by the foods you eat, but it is found that once you have the disease, certain foods can aggravate the symptoms. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet to help reduce symptoms and replace lost nutrients.
Reduce dairy: research has demonstrated that dairy products may exacerbate symptoms ofUC. Since dairy is a major food group in the diet, it would be advisable to consult a suitable professional if completely eliminating dairy from the diet.
Increase fibre intake: diets with low-fibre intake have been associated with increased risk of UC, suggesting that increasing fibre intake may protect against disease or relapse.
Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake: studies have suggested that regular intake of omega-3 can encourage fatty acid synthesis, improving symptoms of inflammation within the lining of the gut wall.
Low FODMAP diet: FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) – high FODMAP foods are associated with an increased risk of symptoms such as , bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence. Reducing intake of high FODMAP foods may help to alleviate symptoms of UC.
Probiotics: as it is believed that UC may be exacerbated by an imbalance of the gut microbiome and/or lack of beneficial gut bacteria, probiotic supplementation is often recommended for UC patients, including strains of Lactobacilli, Streptococci, Bifidobacteria and certain E. Coli species.
How aguulp supplements can help with IBD:
Since Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are of an inflammatory condition, the main areas of focus from a nutritional perspective are both the implementation of anti-inflammatory strategies to help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and the correction of potential nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption issues.
Aguulp for gut:
aguulp for gut contains ingredients that have been shown to help support gastrointestinal function and minimise inflammation in the gut. aguulp for gut also contains a number of important vitamins and minerals that are often found to be deficient in people with Crohn’s Disease, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.
- L-Glutamine: is the most abundant non-essential amino acid in human muscle. L-Glutamine supplementation has been shown to protect against inflammation, improve intestinal barrier function and help to reduce intestinal permeability.
- Collagen: low levels have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease and digestive imbalances.
- Zinc: encourages healing and reduces gut inflammation. Zinc has also been shown to reduce gut permeability via actively having a positive effect on tight junctions.
Antioxidants, such as:
- Vitamin C: can increase collagen synthesis and can help reduce inflammation.
Vitamin D: studies have shown that vitamin D can help induce and maintain IBD remission.
- Vitamin C: can increase collagen synthesis and can help reduce inflammation.
- Soluble fibre/Prebiotics: in the form of FOS, GOS and Inulin – contains prebiotics which act as a food source to good gut bacteria to help minimise the less friendly bacteria which can inflame and attack the colon.
Aguulp for biome (previously aguulp daily synbiotic)
Probiotics: bacteria in the gut attach themselves to the mucus layer of the intestinal barrier and having the right types of beneficial gut bacteria can help to support gut integrity. Healthy gut bacteria also influence cytokine production and increase short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, lactate, proprionate and butyrate which help to keep the gut environment healthy by regulating immunity and inflammation in the intestines. When beneficial bacteria is lacking, this allows for higher levels of opportunistic pathogens to proliferate leading to irritation and inflammation in the gut lining. Probiotic supplementation may therefore be beneficial in reducing intestinal inflammation and gut permeability, according to research.