Sugar is known to cause inflammation—for people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), reducing sugar may lessen the severity of flare-ups. Start with these tips for simple sugar substitutes!
While there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” IBD diet that will eliminate flare-ups, there’s certainly a long list of foods that are known to trigger the symptoms of colitis or Crohn’s disease. For some, the list of “foods to avoid” includes fibrous foods, carbonated beverages, fatty foods, alcohol, corn products, dairy, and many other typical components of an average Western diet. Unfortunately, many people with IBD struggle to find a healthy diet plan that still delivers enough energy and nutrients while avoiding the foods that trigger their symptoms.
Sugar and IBD
Interestingly, many Crohn’s diet plans fail to pay attention to sugar’s effect on the human body. There are various types of sugars that we naturally consume when we eat fruits (fructose), grains (glucose), and even dairy (lactose), but it is the simple, refined sugar (called sucrose) from sweets and processed foods that we are most concerned about here.
In addition to altering your gut bacteria (which can aggravate the symptoms of IBD), sugar is also known to cause an inflammatory response in the body. This happens because your blood sugar rises when you digest sugar, triggering proteins called cytokines into action in an inflammatory response—bad news for someone with IBD who may already have an inflamed digestive tract. It is suspected that these are the reasons why some people with Crohn’s or colitis have been able to lessen their symptoms by reducing sugar in their diet.
Try These Simple Sugar Substitute Tips
Bananas: your new best friend
Bananas are already known to be a dietary staple for many people with IBD. Not only are they convenient and inexpensive, they also offer a sweet, creamy taste in addition to a variety of vitamins and minerals. Bananas can also be used in many baking recipes as a substitute for sugar, eggs, or both.
Tired of snacking on the same old bananas? Take your bananas to the next level with “nice cream”: naturally sugar-free, vegan ice cream made by blending frozen bananas in a blender. There are dozens of “nice cream” recipes online that show you how to create different flavors—try fruity flavors like mixed berry, or indulge with a sugar-free chocolate “nice cream”!
Easy apples and cinnamon
It smells heavenly and it tastes even better: baked apples with cinnamon is a straightforward sugar-free dessert. By baking the apple slices for 15-20 minutes, you do your gut a favor by making this treat a little easier to digest.
Plain greek yogurt and fresh fruit
For some people with IBD, dairy is a no-go. However, if you can have a small amount of dairy, get the maximum benefit by eating greek yogurt which is full of probiotics that help to replenish your gut bacteria. Avoid sweetened yogurts, opting instead for plain yogurt to which you can add fresh fruit, a splash of vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon.
When you’re craving chocolate, try protein
Often, a chocolate craving indicates that you’re low on iron, magnesium, protein, or other nutrients that help you maintain your energy levels. Instead of a chocolate bar, try a dollop of nut butter w/cacao nibs. For some, a protein shake is a quick, effective fix.
Switch to naturally sweet foods with no added sugar
The simplest advice for reducing your sugar intake? Stay away from processed foods, switching to natural, whole foods that have no added sugar. Prepare your own foods, and look for recipes that use applesauce, sweet potatoes, beets, and coconut products—all popular sugar-free choices with a broad range of sweet and savory applications.
Help heal your gut and reduce your body’s inflammatory response by taking these initial steps towards reducing your refined sugar consumption. Hopefully, you will begin to experience less frequent and less severe flare-ups, which will in turn give your intestinal lining time to heal. To boost your body’s healing process, you might try a product like CROWN, a protein-rich beverage designed to heal the intestinal lining, taken alongside other Crohn’s medications see if CROWN is right for you here