In my previous column
, I addressed the issue of malnutrition associated with Crohn’s disease. Here, I want to discuss a specific diet that gastroenterologists may suggest to help control the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It's called the low-residue diet
What is a low-residue diet?
Following the stage in the digestive process where nutrients are absorbed as food passes through the small intestine, undigested food, or "residue," enters the colon and forms into stool. An LRD limits the consumption of high-fiber foods
, which include uncooked vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. By restricting fiber, the speed at which the stool passes through the colon is reduced. An LRD is typically recommended when the bowels need a break during severe Crohn’s flares, when obstructions or strictures are present, and before or after surgical procedures.
How does it help?
Low-residue diets are intended to relieve the demand on your intestines, so they don’t have to work hard to digest food. Foods that are high in fiber can make my Crohn’s worse, whether during a flare or not. My symptoms include severe abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, and frequent bowel movements. During flares, urgent trips to the bathroom are needed due to severe diarrhea. This is when a low-residue diet comes in handy.
Fiber speeds up the digestive process, which is suitable for someone dealing with constipation, but not ideal for anyone suffering from diarrhea. When foods p