Crohn’s and Colitis are both considered chronic diseases. This means they cannot be cured, you will have periods of good spells and then periods of flare ups. That is a pretty depressing prognosis.
So in one respect this is an extremely arrogant blog post, which looks like I am suggesting I know more than Doctors and Scientists. I do not, but I do believe the root cause of most diseases is diet related and when you apply that logic you view things from different angles. Also I bet someone suffering Crohn’s or Colitis could read this and think, who the hell is this guy to suggest I have been suffering with colitis for 20 years for no reason. Completely understandable, but bare with me. Actually you can take this paragraph as a disclaimer, I am not giving medical advice. I have just wrote down some thoughts I have on the subject.
The way medical science works is that someone has a theory, which gets turned into a Randomized Controlled Trail, the results get passed down to medical bodies and they pass it down to the doctors. So if the doctors use whatever methods they are told to then they are less likely to be suspended, sued or peer reviewed. Unfortunately RCTs are nowadays just generally about what drugs can be used for a disease.
So classing Crohn’s & Colitis as incurable, really just means there is no available drug to cure them.
On top of this nutritional science is like the wild west based around observational studies, vested interest and guess work. T2 Diabetes is also classed a chronic and progressive disease. Through anecdotes and my knowledge of Low Carb diets, I know that Diabetes is easily reversed. It is only chronic and progressive when it is within the foundations of a Standard Western Diet.
So I am wondering if a simple dietary change to Zero Carb/Carnivore could cure/reverse Crohn’s & Colitis just like T2 Diabetes.
Crohn’s & Colitis
“Crohn’s Disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, though the most common area affected is the end of the ileum (the last part of the small intestine), or the colon.
The areas of inflammation are often patchy with sections of normal gut in between. A patch of inflammation may be small, only a few centimetres, or extend quite a distance along part of the gut. As well as affecting the lining of the bowel, Crohn’s may also go deeper into the bowel wall. It’s one of the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).” – Crohn’s & Colitis UK
“Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon (the large bowel). In UC, ulcers develop on the surface of the lining and these may bleed and produce mucus.
The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower colon, but it may affect the entire colon. If UC only affects the rectum, it is called proctitis, while if it affects the whole colon it may be called total colitis or pancolitis.” – Crohn’s & Colitis UK
What is the Conventional Treatment
No shocks here the standard treatment is usually anti inflammatory drugs, autoimmune repressing drugs and unfortunately surgery to remove infected areas.
Now I am being crazy? but would you not think the first step is a dietary change, or at any step? They are diseases of the digestive system after all, would not overhauling the diet be vital here?
The Crohn’s & Colitis UK charity, basically just say eat the EatWell plate from the NHS and go from there. This is especially disheartening because I have raised money for these in the past.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation goes a bit further but is still a little baffling to me:
“While your diet is not a cause of your disease and changing your diet will not cure you, paying special attention to your diet can help reduce and control your IBD symptoms.
One of the best ways to begin understanding how your diet affects your condition is to start keeping a Food Diary. By recording what you eat every time you eat and also the symptoms you experience as a result can help you identify foods that may cause distress and then limit or eliminate them from your diet.
Although Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not the result of food allergies, many patients and doctors recommend a few simple suggestions to help control symptoms during flare ups:
- Eat smaller meals at more frequent intervals
- Reduce the amount of greasy or fried foods in your diet
- Limit consumption of milk or milk products
- Restrict your intake of certain high-fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn” – Crohns & Colitis Foundation
Firstly they say your diet isn’t the cause, surely diet is a massive factor? In my opinion your diet is either directly causing the inflammation or is weakening you to such an extent that your body isn’t able to heal your body sufficiently.
I do believe a food diary is a good idea.
However then the say eat smaller and more frequent meals. I am not sure about this, to me if you are not eating good foods. By eating them more frequently but in smaller meals, this would just mean your colon and digestive system would just be constantly processing food, without any rest periods. This would likely increase your chances of inflammation. Then they say limit greasy food. I would agree with this as long as they don’t mean fatty foods, a steak cooked in butter is completely different to chicken wings cooked in canola or soybean oil.
Limit diary would likely be good for some, but not all. Some people just don’t handle diary well that is true.
Finally interestingly they say limit some high fiber foods. Why just some, why not limit all fiber? Well because that would contradict the fact that they recommend you eat your “healthy” wholegrains.
I do appreciate that it would be risky for organisations like these, to suggest diets that differ from whatever food pyramid or plate is recommended in their country. However I have no such burdens placed on me.
So to take Crohn’s & Colitis to its logical core, is that they are diseases of inflammation. So your aim is to reduce the chances of having inflammation in the body. Now it is important to note that inflammation is actually a method your body uses to heal itself. So everyone will have varying levels of inflammation at any one time. However having lots of inflammation constantly, leads to chronic disease.
Going off the digestive system picture and the explanation of the diseases above. To me it seems sensible to think that diet is a major contributor, and that a correct method of eating would cure the disease. By cure I mean where medication is not necessary and there are no flare ups. Obviously if you them went back to eating what you did before the diseases could come back, as a patient clearly doesn’t have a robust digestive system. My general rule is the less robust you are the more meat and less plants you should eat. That rule apply’s here in my opinion.
So what am I really saying here?
Well to me it would mean eating food that mainly digests in between the Stomach and Small Intestines, and avoiding food matter that passes through the Ileum, Large Intestines and Rectum. This would decrease the chances of inflammation causing problems where these diseases are mainly found.
You would also be best eating food that does not promote inflammation in general. This will mean your body is not constantly fighting fires all over the body, so if an issue arises in the digestive system it can be dealt with.
What Digests before the end of the Small intestine?
Well you are reading a post from a blog, from a person who follows a Carnivore Ketogenic Diet. So guess what I am going to say here!!!
Meat and the fat attached within the meat is around 98.8% digested between the Stomach and Small Intestine. The human digestive system is incredibly efficient at digesting meat, it is what we have evolved to eat for over 2 million years. All that is left of meat after the small intestine is some brown liquid. Therefore this stands to reason that meat would cause very little inflammation or damage anywhere between the Ileum and Rectum.
We know this because people who us Ostomy Bags can see exactly what is going on:
“Because I had such an extremely short bowel, my output was very high because no water absorption had taken place. I was fed and hydrated by infusion and could literally live without eating or drinking at all. Because of my excessive output, we had to make a rig that had a hose extending from the ostomy bag that drained into a one gallon jug. Often the hose would get clogged and my wife or sister would have to use a coat hanger wire to unplug it. Now if this vegan pseudoscience is right, we would suspect that the hose was being plugged by pieces of meat.
Never once did we see any solid chunks of meat. I became so curious about this that I once swallowed the largest chunk of meat I could possibly get down without choking. Because of the shortness of my bowel, it only took about twenty minutes for my stomach to empty into the ostomy. Better than two hours later, there were no signs of any meat chunks. What was always clogging the ostomy tube were pieces of vegetables that were not fully chewed.
Entire pieces of olive, lettuce, broccoli florets, grains and seeds were found. Yet, large pieces of fat were never witnessed. As a matter of fact, all the fat from the meat was already emulsified by the bile into solution within the duodenum. Over time, fat would coagulate on the side walls of the ostomy bag, but never were there any solid pieces observed. Certainly we are getting a lot more nutrition from our meat than from our vegetables – unless you can chew your cud several times like a ruminant.” – Intestinal Transplant Survivor
Limit the quantity of Food Matter getting to the Large Intestines?
Wait doesn’t meat rot in the Colon for months on end? Nope, that was probably some ridiculous advertisement from PETA that caught on.
What does rot in the Colon? Ironically everything PETA recommends you eat. Whoops. The definition of rotting is the breaking down of food by bacteria, aka plant matter by our gut flora. Yet even a cow designed for eating plants can only get about 60% of the nutrition from a plant, this is why they are constantly eating and also why they eat their own turds so they can recycle even more nutrition. So just think how much nutrition we can actually get from plants, with a digestive system designed for meat. Its LOW, very low.
“It’s easy to tell when your gut bacteria are doing the work, instead of your digestive enzymes: you fart. That is why beans and starches make you fart, but meat doesn’t: they’re rotting in your colon, and the products of bacterial decomposition include methane and carbon dioxide gases. Here’s a list of flatulence-causing foods, and here’s another:
A partial inventory: “Beans, lentils, dairy products, onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cashews, Jerusalem artichokes, oats, wheat, and yeast in breads. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables…
One side benefit of a paleo diet is the elimination of the biggest, stinkiest fart producer—beans (due to the indigestible sugar raffinose)—and several smaller ones (wheat, oats, all grain products). And it sure seems like my gut bacteria have less to do now that my amylase and sucrase supplies aren’t being overwhelmed by an avalanche of starch and sugar.” – J Stanton.
It doesn’t take a scientist or nutritionist to work out the above could potentially irritate the digestive system.
Then we get to fiber, where somewhere along the human time line we decided it was a health food. That is is necessary to keep us regular. I eat no fiber, and my digestion is far better. I poop regularly plus I have far less gas and bloating.
“In conclusion, contrary to popularly held beliefs, reducing or stopping dietary fiber intake improves constipation and its associated symptoms.” – WJG
We get told we need fiber to speed up our digestion, but then get told we need fiber to slow things down. Like the breakdown of sugar in fruit. It is ridiculous.
“Foods high in insoluble fiber include grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables and certain fruits. Insoluble fibers pass through our digestive system practically untouched, because even bacteria can’t easily digest them. Why expose the smooth inner surfaces of our intestines to these abrasive indigestibles?” – Georgia Ede MD
The above should ring alarm bells for anyone with Crohn’s or Colitis. Fiber at it’s core is really just something we cannot digest, we are using to push along other things we cannot digest to poop it out of our system. How can you not think this will irritate your colon. Is it not better to not eat indigestible food matter in the first place, therefore not requiring more indigestible food matter to push it out.
“Does fiber protect the colon from cancer, constipation, and other diseases? No. In the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2007, Doctors Tan and Seow-Choen published a review of medical studies conducted over the previous 35 years about fiber and colon health and concluded: A strong case cannot be made for a protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal polyp or cancer. Neither has fiber been found to be useful in chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome…” – WJG
Plants have the potential in numerous ways to irritate the colon. So in my simple mind, to help prevent the need for medication and flare ups for Crohn’s & Colitis is to simply avoid all food that is digested or partially digested in the Large Colon. This means all plants. So grains, sugars, vegetable oils, vegetables and fruits. Especially anything high in fiber, but why mess around just eliminate it all.
“Vegetables (as well as some fruits) are often high in insoluble fiber. While soluble fiber can be soothing for the gut, consuming large amounts of insoluble fiber when your gut is inflamed is a little bit like rubbing a wire brush against an open wound. Ouch.
Vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber include:
- Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.)
- Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
- Green beans
- Kernel corn
- Bell peppers
- Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
- Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
- Cauliflower” – Chris Kresser
Maybe you can get away with some of the above, but is it worth the experimentation.
As well as avoiding food that could irritate the gut you should also look to decrease general inflammation. Probably the biggest inflammatory issue is Omega 6, we are eating far too much of it. This is because Omega 6 is the main fatty acid in vegetable seed oils like Soy and Canola. Vegetable seeds oils are unfortunately found in all packaged, fast and restaurant food. On top of this stress, sleep and environment play a role. If you can keep control of general inflammation, then you will be much more likely to be able to deal with triggers that could cause a flare up for example.
If you are in any doubt about what our bodies are designed to eat, then eat a Ribeye Steak and some Sweetcorn. Then have a look to see what comes out of the other end into the shiny white toilet bowl. It won’t be the steak. It is only logical to then think eating what our body is designed to eat, would cause less stress on the body, and therefore you would be less likely to suffer from digestive issues and disease. Hence you would then not need drugs or surgery or at least reduce your chances of needing them…. in my opinion.
On top of everything I have mentioned I haven’t even touched on benefits of meat only diets in relation general health and well being. Or the destructive properties of high carbs and low fat diets in general.
You see news stories all the time, oh Polar Bears/Sharks/Crocodiles don’t get cancer so we are studying their blood. Well guess what, feed them Cornflakes for Breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta for tea and fruit for dessert…. they will get cancer. They don’t get cancer because they are eating what they have evolved to eat.
A good rule of thumb for humans is:
- Eat no food created in the last 200 years.
- Be very very very careful eating food created between 201 & 15,000 years ago.
- Eat as much as you want of food available over 15,000 years ago. Which is basically Meat.
Before you say we were Hunter Gatherers, so we would have gathered vegetables, berries, tubers etc. This is true but only when meat wasn’t available. Remember Vegan and Vegetarian diets have only become possible due to fossil fuel transportation logistics and supplements over the last 50 – 80 years. Before that fruit and vegetables were only available regionally and seasonally. I am from the North East of England, please enlighten me to what fruits and vegetables were available year round to my ancestors 50,000 years ago. There would have been no option other than to live months on end, on meat only. Luckily we would have been very happy doing so. Also remember fruit and vegetables in the past had much less sugar and much more fiber in them, so it would have been impossible for us to gatherer enough food to live on. Never mind the issues I have already brought up regarding fiber. All this great range of plants you can get in the Supermarket are created by humans, they did not exist to our ancestors. We have spliced Kale, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower from a mustard plant for example. Do not get caught up in the all plants are good hype, or think Gluten Free pasta is a better option…. well it will be but not as good an option as not eating any pasta obviously.
I am sure a doctor, scientist or nutritionist could pick through this post and say, what about this pathway, what about that chemical, what about this gene expression, and what about aliens that live on Mars. What I am seeing from real people day after day, is meat only diets reversing disease both physical and mental. Like their natural state is being restored. To me the question isn’t should someone with Crohn’s or Colitis go Zero Carb/Carnivore or not? The question is how long should they do it for. Do you stick with it long term and never deviate, or do you eat meat only for 1 or 2 years to allow your digestive system time to heal itself then slowly reintroduce foods and see what effect they have. I am personally of the opinion that Zero Carb is a long term viable healthy option, so I wouldn’t personally reintroduce any plants if I didn’t have to…. and you don’t.
I am not naive enough to think there is a chance that in 5 years time, the standard practice for Crohn’s & Colitis patients will be the Carnivore Diet. The best we can hope for is that whilst the mainstream medical organisation and charities continue to muddle along, small groups will rise up. These will be organised by people from the ground up who have actually got their own Crohn’s & Colitis under control without medication or surgery, and want to help others. This is currently happening in the UK in relation to Diabetes. Diabetes UK is looking extremely old fashioned and out of touch, whereas the up and coming Diabetes.co.uk is looking progressive and adaptable.
Thanks for sticking with this post for so long.
Just to clarify, below is what I consider to be a Zero Carb / Carnivore Diet and why I believe that.
It seems obvious to me that diet can have a massive impact on both disease for good and bad, I believe the more meat you eat and the less plants you eat the better. The question is have other people came to the same conclusion, in regard to Crohn’s & Colitis? Well a lot of people have, here are some examples. These are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more examples.
“Crohn’s disease is regarded as having no curative treatment. Previous reports
on dietary therapy of Crohn’s disease indicate no major success. Case Report: Here we report a severe case of Crohn’s disease where we successfully applied the paleolithic ketogenic diet. Dietary therapy resulted in resolution of symptoms, normalized laboratory parameters as well as gradual normalization of bowel inflammation as evidenced by imaging data and normalization of intestinal permeability as shown by the polyethylene glycol (PEG 400)challenge test. The patient was able to discontinue medication within two weeks. Currently, he is on the diet for 15 months and is free of symptom sas well as side effects. Conclusion: We conclude that the paleolithic ketogenic diet was feasible, effective and safe in the present case.”
Note here that their name Paleolithic Ketogenic Diet is a carnivore diet consisting of red meat and animal fats only at a 2:1 ratio of fats to protein.
- 5 months (Starting on Dec 31)
- Lost 14% body fat (56% to 42%)
- Lost 100lbs (385lbs to 285lbs)
- Lost 6-8 inches in my waist (48-50 pants to 40)”
“My ulcerative colitis disease completley cured after going carnivore. For 13 years I tried a plant based approach vegan, raw vegan, fruitarian etc nothing has worked except carnivore” @adnabdv