As IBD foodies, Marnina and I are dedicating ourselves to expanding our knowledge of cooking and maintaining a healthy diet with IBD. In doing so, we are reaching out to individuals who focus on IBD and nutrition to share our ideas and learn from them. Last week, I had the unique opportunity to speak with Karen Langston, a recognized International Nutrigenomic nutritionist n Arizona and on the Board of Directors for National Association of Nutrition Professionals. Marnina was scheduled to be a part of the phone call but ended up getting stuck at work.
Among her many successes, Karen has become a resource for individuals living with Crohn’s Disease both nationally and internationally. Building on her own experiences with Crohn’s Disease, she provides support to individuals seeking alternatives (to medicine) or an integrative approach to cope with their disease.
Karen’s Crohn’s Disease was constantly flaring and could not find relief with any medications. For four years she suffered and had several complications, including a bowel resection.
Overwhelmed and miserable and ready to give up life, she went an saw a Naturopathic Doctor reluctantly and within a month she was in remission. She was given a digestive enzyme which acted as a digestive aid that would help remove the inflammatory response and digest food properly.
Karen was so impressed, she pursued certification as a holistic Nutritionist so that she could help others.
This decision was based off of her belief that people with Crohn’s disease are lacking the proper digestive aids, and are therefore not in homeostasis. In addition to improper digestion, there are other factors that can disrupt homeostasis, such as certain environmental factors, stress, fatigue, and one’s emotional outlook on life.
These risk factors can be called ‘triggers,’ and any combination of them can lead to inflammatory responses.
Karen believes prescription medications that IBD patients are prescribed have the potential to deplete human body of certain nutrients. It is important to know which medication you are taking to know which vitamins and minerals you might be lacking. To replenish those lost nutrients, and to ensure that one is getting all the necessary nutrients.
Karen recommends multivitamin/minerals in liquid form, as well as using various digestive enzymes.
However, one can get nutrients by juicing vegetables which contain minerals, vitamins and EFAs (essential fatty acids) that are critical for people with IBD. She suggested juicing beets, ginger, garlic, red cabbage and dandelion greens carrots, and anything green, including lettuce (but really any vegetable will work). If you can’t eat the vegetables in their raw form (especially during a flare-up), puree them along with some form of animal protein to increase B vitamin and iron for energy.
Karen also noted the significance of taking probiotics (supplements that contain good bacteria) but suggested rotating them and never taking one kind of probiotic for more than a month.
What does Karen suggest to all Crohn’s and IBD patients?
She suggests keeping a food journal for at least three months. She says that you should write down everything you eat and how you feel both physically and emotionally during and after a meal. Additionally, food may not become a trigger for IBD until it hits a certain part of the gastrointestinal track. Therefore, it may take a few days before you feel sick, crampy or constipated or other symptoms like migraines, bloating from a certain food. By keeping a food journal, it is easy to go back and look at what you ate that may have triggered your response. A food journal will also help you start to see patterns regarding what you eat and how your body reacts to certain foods.
Karen stresses that everyone is biochemically different. What works for one person may not work for another. She is therefore hesitant to suggest specific IBD-friendly foods. She would rather that individuals find foods that make them feel good by keeping a food journal. She did however note that the common triggers are wheat, soy, dairy, corn and citrus.
She emphasized that environmental factors, stress, fatigue and one’s emotional outlook on life can have a strong impact on people with IBD. It’s very simple—if you are a positive person and perceive life in a positive manner, your cellular expansion continues and you will be helping your IBD. Marnina believes strongly that being positive helps her Crohn’s Disease. In her free time, she does what makes her happy – spends time with her family and friends, dances, runs, teaches and cooks and as a result, feels good. That does not necessarily mean that if she continues her current life style she will remain healthy. There are other factors involved as well. Still, she believes strongly that having a good attitude is half the battle.
One of the things that struck both me and Marnina is Karen’s commitment to helping others with Crohn’s Disease. She has truly created a safe place on her website (http://karenlangston.com/introduction-to-crohns-disease/) for people with IBD where they can share their accomplishments and their pain. She should be a role model for those with Crohn’s who are looking for alternative methods to treat their disease and make it manageable.
She wants to hear other people’s stories with IBD. Feel free to submit yours here. She is eager to share her experiences and is almost always willing to help anyone who comes her way. I am so grateful to have been able to speak with Karen and am grateful for her many insights that she has shared with us.
Follow Karen on twitter (@KarenLangston) and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/KarenLangstoncom.
Note: I Be a fooDie will be connecting with different nutritionists in the future in an effort to provide many different perspectives on living a healthy lifestyle with IBD, especially the connection between the mind, body, and IBD.
**I Be a fooDie does not endorse the opinions or statements contained within this blog post, and does not guarantee the accuracy of the information.**