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Case study – Crohn’s Disease

Lawrence came to see me just shy of his 21st birthday. He was visibly underweight and had almost no energy. As a university student who could not participate in “normal” student social life this was affecting his quality of life dramatically.

Lawrence was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the tender age of 15. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus [1]. Symptoms typically include abdominal pain associated with diarrhoea, which results in malabsorption of vital nutrients from food.

With specific blood testing we pinpointed Lawrence’s underlying food intolerances and focused on avoiding these offending foods for a period of time. We also agreed on a supplementation protocol chosen to address the underlying causes of inflammation, which exacerbates the symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disease.

By the time he celebrated his milestone 21st birthday, Lawrence was already seeing dramatic improvements both in his weight and original presenting symptoms. He continues to be under the care of his excellent gastro-enterologist specialist who is delighted by the noticeable decrease in the inflammation markers including C-reactive protein.

By January 2011 Lawrence was a changed man. His weight is steadily increasing and he now has an excellent relationship with food that works to his benefit. He realises that there are certain edible treats that cause his original symptoms to flare up and prefers a life of abstinence rather than pain and severe discomfort. He is now eating a much more varied diet as he no longer fears food and knows exactly which foods are his enemy.

This is what he had to say about his experience with nutrition:

I can’t believe how something as simple as altering my diet has ultimately changed my life! When I first met you I genuinely felt my Crohn’s Disease was getting so bad I’d need to be admitted into a hospital, and yet 6 months on from taking your dietary advice I’m healthier and more symptom-free than I’ve ever been! I’ve learnt that you can indeed be healthy and live a normal life despite living with an illness, and for that I am truly grateful!

1. Haslett, C et al. (2002) Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine, pp 808-817, 19th Edition, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh