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Treat Crohn’s with Paleo

treat crohn's with paleo | The Paleo Diet
Have you had any results in curbing the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease with the Paleo Diet. As I am a sufferer, I would love to know.

Thank you,

Shannon


Maelán Fontes’ Response:

Dear Shannon,

Indeed, inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease) patients usually do very well with The Paleo Diet, as nutrients are one of the main environmental triggers of this condition.

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mounts an attack against its own tissues, in this case the cells lining the intestine.

For an autoimmune disease to occur we need a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger. The genetic predisposition depends on genes coding for the HLA system. On the other side, one of the environmental triggers may be nutrition, besides infections, geography (vitamin D deficiency), physical trauma or vaccination.

One of the key points in this process is increased intestinal permeability. This means that the gut barrier allows increased passage of bacterial or food proteins (antigens) into peripheral circulation, skipping a process known as oral tolerance. Once antigens get in contact with the immune system located in the gut associated lymphoid tissue, they may elicit a T-cell mediated immune response against those antigens.

If the molecular structure of the dietary or bacterial antigens is similar to that of the HLA system (part of the immune system presenting cells machinery), chances are that a cross reaction between foreign antigens and self antigens (produced by T-cells) occur. This is termed molecular mimicry and leads to self injury by the adaptive immune system.

Hence, decreasing intestinal permeability is one of the treatment targets. There are several nutrients known to increase intestinal permeability that you may want to avoid, at least until symptoms subside. Here you have a list of them and the noxious substance in parentheses:

  • Cereal grains (lectins and gliadin)
  • Legumes, including soya and peanuts (lectins and saponins)
  • Tomato (tomato lectin and alpha-tomatin)
  • Potato (lectins and saponins)
  • Chili (capsaicin)
  • Quillaja (foaming substance)
  • Quinoa (saponins)
  • Egg white (lisozyme)
  • Alfalfa sprouts (saponins)
  • Amaranth (saponins)
  • Alcohol

Moreover, some nutrients exert an adjuvant-like activity (they stimulate the immune system), which is something you don’t want to if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease. Nutrients containing adjuvants:

  • Quillaja extract, found in root beer
  • Tomato alpha-tomatine

Dairy products and vegetable oils also have deleterious effects upon your immune system.

I hope this helps.
Maelán Fontes Villalba – MS Ph.D. candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden

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2 Comments on "Treat Crohn’s with Paleo"

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  1. Of course if someone just ate sugar red meat and milk they could still abuse this approach but it provides a good commonsense starting point for what is healthy and what isn’t.

  2. Anonymous says:

    When Dr. Cordain calculates, for the hunter-gatherers diet, an animal to plant foods ratio of 65:35, what these figures refer to: weight, volume, calories?Also, what is his current advice regarding the number and timing of daily meals? I ask this because I’ve recently read Ori Hofmekler’s The Warrior Diet suggesting only one daily meal at evening, and recalled having read something like this in The Paleo Diet Newsletter some time ago.

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