New Research Uncovers What Really Causes Crohn’s Disease
For most individuals with healthy immune systems, they go through life without major periods of illness. Sure an occasional cold might pop up or they could come down with the flu every handful of years, but for the most part, their bodies function normally and without painful symptoms that are difficult to manage.
However, if you have Crohn’s Disease, every day might be a battle. Your symptoms may come and go, leaving you with an unpredictability that’s frustrating, or you could experience remission with the looming threat of it coming back again. (1)
What exactly is Crohn’s Disease, why does it happen, and how can it be treated? New studies have illuminated findings that could change the landscape of Crohn’s treatment and provide helpful information for those who suffer from this inflammatory condition.
Crohn’s Disease – The Basics
The path to discovering you have Crohn’s Disease might be long and challenging, as this inflammatory condition can be hard to pinpoint. Individuals who experience digestion problems will certainly know that something is amiss, but pointing directly to Crohn’s can take some time.
One of the first steps to take if you suspect you may have this condition is to download your free digestive healing report, giving you specific information about what’s going on within your body. Living with Crohn’s means that part of your GI tract is inflamed, and you could experience symptoms that include frequent diarrhea, fever, reduced appetite, abdominal cramping, or low energy. (2) Surgery is available for more serious cases of Crohn’s, yet it’s often unsuccessful and leaves individuals with the same frustrations as before.
Until recently, it wasn’t clear about what caused the condition, but new light is being shed on this area. What is certain is that roughly 3 out of every 20 people who have Crohn’s Disease also have a relative with the condition, meaning that it’s more than likely inherited. (3) When discussing this disease, it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg conundrum, in that it hasn’t been entirely clear which came first when it comes to inflammation.
Essentially, the GI tract of a person with Crohn’s behaves in the following way:
- The immune system has an adverse reaction to food and begins to attack what it thinks are invading substances, when really it’s simply nutrients and good bacteria.
- While this is taking place, white blood cells accumulate along the lining of the gut and they trigger inflammation.
- This process is what leads to the unpleasant digestive symptoms that people experience, and the cycle goes around again.
The question that has plagued researchers for years is that it’s unclear if Crohn’s itself is the cause of the inflammatory response, or if the response is what causes the condition. Individuals who suffer from these symptoms often resort to an anti-inflammatory diet as a way to manage the disease, but in many cases, it doesn’t actually provide a lasting cure. (4) Despite the numerous benefits of this lifestyle shift, always make sure you check with your functional medicine specialist first before starting any new regimen.
Finding Out What Causes Crohn’s
In order to understand how monumental the recent research around Crohn’s Disease actually is, it’s important to grasp how a healthy gut functions. Our bodies are made up of millions of bacteria and fungi called the microbiome, and these organisms are exceptionally plentiful in our digestive tract. (5) For years it wasn’t clear how the microbiome affected our health, but many now refer to it as a second brain of our bodies.
Individuals who don’t attempt to eat an anti-inflammatory diet can do damage to their microbiome over time, wiping out the good gut bacteria and leaving their intestinal tract susceptible to inflammation. (6) Once the microbiome has been depleted of its helpful organisms, it can wreak havoc on the rest of the body, contributing to liver conditions, abnormal gonad conditions, and can even create problems with the thyroid.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have been exploring the correlation between our microbiome and how it might play a role in Crohn’s Disease, and have come up with groundbreaking information. Along with two specific bacteria, a fungus has been identified as playing a major role in the condition. (7)
Stool samples were collected from a variety of individuals who suffer from Crohn’s Disease as well as from their relatives who are unaffected by the condition. What they discovered is that the bacteria E. coli and Serratia marcescens combine with a fungus called Candida tropicalis to create an environment for a slimy biofilm to thrive. This film attaches itself to the intestines and triggers an inflammatory response, leading to Crohn’s Disease symptoms. (8)
What’s more, stool samples of affected individuals contained significantly larger amounts of these three key components compared to their family members, and their intestines also displayed a much lower level of healthy bacteria in their microbiome. This finding is in line with years of previous research that explored the role of gut bacteria in this disease. (9)
What The Future Has In Store
Those suffering from Crohn’s Disease should be hopeful about this new finding, but researchers are still figuring out how they can take this information and translate it into a cure. The fact that the condition is genetic coupled with the presence of specific fungus and bacteria creates the environment for a possible medication to come to the market, but until more is known it’s hard to predict how this will take shape.
One of the few options available right now is for people to take medication that suppresses their immune system, which reduces the symptoms they experience but can also lead to an increased ability to come down with regular illnesses and the inability to fight infection.
On a larger note, learning more about Crohn’s Disease again stresses the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet and the benefits that it can provide. If the condition is truly caused by the presence of this slimy film, people might find it to be in their best interest to reduce any chance of inflammation whenever they can. It’s thought that some individuals are simply built to be more susceptible to these kinds of conditions, so setting ourselves up for success with a healthy microbiome is the best chance to avoid these major conditions.
The foods we eat are only a part of the puzzle when it comes to our overall health and how we can help to avoid chronic conditions like Crohn’s Disease or other digestive or hormonal concerns. The pesticides on our food, the products we use to clean our homes, and the prevalence of genetically modified ingredients can all play a role in how our bodies process the things we interact with and how well our microbiome holds up.
If you’re suffering from Crohn’s Disease, another inflammatory condition, or if you’re simply keeping a better eye on your health, contact Burlison Clinic today. We take a functional medicine approach and treat the whole body, with mental and physical aspects of your health combining with our personalized health plans.
Curious about what we offer and how we can help? Contact us today to request an appointment. We can’t wait to meet you and help you on the path to getting your life back!
Read more on digestion
We’re told to constantly wash our hands growing up – wash before dinner, wash after we use the restroom, and wash after we pet the dog. Many other countless times our parents are urging us to be cleaner, asking us to shower more often and keep a clean and dust free room. As adults, some of us have taken those habits to the extreme, avoiding germs like the plague. Often called germaphobes, these individuals are constantly afraid that germs will make them sick, so they aim to live as sterile of a life as possible.
It’s surprising that there is such sensitivity around poop – after all, how your gut functions, resulting in the elimination of waste, is a crucial indicator of the health of your entire body. A healthy gut contributes not only to your body’s well-being but also to your mental state. Constipation, lack of nutrients, and bowel disorders all have an effect on your moods.
Have you had odd symptoms that negatively affect your health, but they often seem to come and go? Or maybe suddenly you’re experiencing reactions to certain foods that you never used to before, and you’re left clueless as to why? It’s possible that you could have an autoimmune disease, although actually diagnosing it as such can take many years.
If you’ve noticed changes in your body that you can’t explain, what are the chances that it might be related to your intestines? While it might seem hard to believe, things like eczema, anxiety, having a harder time battling the common cold, and a whole host of other issues can be linked to something called leaky gut. (1) Also known as intestinal permeability, it’s caused by a breakdown of the lining of your intestinal wall and it actually allows tiny food particles to pass through the intestine into the bloodstream. This can lead to widespread inflammation and is often the cause of a lot of digestive problems and autoimmune conditions.
Our intestines do more work than we give them credit for, with the ability to process the food we eat and utilize the nutrients for the health of our bodies all while we go about our daily lives. Individuals who may indulge in less than healthy diets could be doing damage to their intestines without even knowing it, and their digestive problems might be a result of something called leaky gut. Termed a medical gray area by physicians across the world, not much is known about this condition except that it can cause symptoms that make life difficult, including gas, bloating, and cramping after eating certain foods. (1) Also called intestinal permeability, it’s thought to be linked to a wide variety of ailments including:
Your digestive system includes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract as well as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. When you eat, food first enters your mouth, before passing down the esophagus into the stomach. From here, it travels through the large and small intestines, before reaching the rectum/anus. At every different stage, various enzymes, gut flora, bacteria, the blood supply, and hormones are assisting in the complex digestion process.