Living with Crohn's disease presents its own set of challenges, and contemplating starting a family adds another layer to the complexity. The daily struggles of managing symptoms, dietary considerations, and potential impacts on fertility can feel overwhelming. However, with the right support and information, individuals with Crohn's can navigate this journey towards family-building more confidently.
Crohn's the chronic inflammatory bowel condition significantly impacts one's ability to absorb nutrients from food. Maintaining a tailored/targeted diet is crucial in managing the symptoms and supporting overall health and fertility outcomes. In this blog, I will explore the relationship between Crohn's disease and nutrition, highlighting some key nutrient deficiencies, and nutrition therapy that can be utilized to maintain optimal health and well-being before embarking on the fertility journey.
From a food and nutrition, perspective Crohn's disease affects the digestive tract, causing inflammation, pain, and discomfort. The inflammation can lead to impaired nutrient absorption, which often results in nutritional deficiencies. Common nutrients affected include vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and folate.
Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) or the Crohn’s disease exclusion diet (CDED) helps the gut heal while also providing the body with the macro and micronutrients it requires. Some individuals may struggle with keeping up the EEN exclusive liquid diet as they are missing their palatable solid foods from their daily diet which is when partial enteral nutrition comes in with some allowed solid foods. The CDED is restrictive with its solid food choices, and nutrition has to be supplemented by partial enteral nutrition (PEN). CDED is most often tweaked according to individual symptoms and considering personal taste preferences, tolerances, and allergies.
When the gut has healed enough to be categorized as being in remission, the transition to a normal diet without having to rely on liquid supplements exclusively or partially begins. The dietitian-led Mediterranean low-FODMAP diet would be a great start. This would help promote the reduction of inflammation, managing low-grade inflammation to prevent a flare-up to active Crohn's disease. The LoFo diet is temporary, and a gradual increase in prebiotic options within manageable doses is possible. This liberalized diet incorporates more varieties, rebuilding the diversity of the microbiome, and making a happy and healthy gut. With a healthy gut, inflammation is better managed, creating a positive domino effect that improves the impact on reproductive health. Fertility is now ready to be boosted with nutrition once again, improving reproductive hormone production and function. This, in turn, enhances egg and sperm quality, paving the way for better future health for your child, ensuring successful conception and a healthy pregnancy carried to term.
It is a journey you have to take with your Crohn's and fertility specialist dietitian. Are you ready to take this journey with me? Reach out and start your journey to boost your fertility with nutrition therapy. Whichever stage you are at, active Crohn's or in remission there is a tailor-made plan waiting to be weaved for you !!