3 Ways to Prevent a Crohn’s Flare… That Have Nothing to Do with Food

More and more people with Crohn’s disease are looking for ways they can support their health. Adjusting your diet is often the first step, and there are plenty of healing diet templates to follow.

But the following areas often don’t get talked about enough, and they’re just as important!

1. Prioritize rest

We love our sleep. Seriously, who doesn’t treasure a Saturday morning when you can roll out of bed at noon, or whenever you feel like it? Yet, as a society we tend to shortchange sleep for what it really is: An incredibly healing process.

Sleeping is the body’s time to repair and recharge. Just going through everyday activities causes breakdown and during sleep, the body rebuilds. It’s not uncommon for people with Crohn’s to be more susceptible to fatigue. Practicing good sleep hygiene and taking rest breaks during the day is essential for those with Crohn’s in order to maintain the energy needed to live their lives.

Some ways to optimize sleep include the following:

  • stop using electronics a couple of hours before bed
  • wear an eye mask
  • put up black-out shades
  • avoid consuming caffeinated beverages or foods like chocolate late in the day
  • keep electronics out of the room and turn off WiFi when you go to sleep to minimize EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure, which may affect sleep quality.

However, sleep does more than just give us energy. It can actually help us combat inflammation.

In a study from 2004 comparing three groups of healthy adults who endured partial sleep deprivation, full sleep deprivation, or continued to sleep normally, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were elevated in both groups that were deprived of sleep.This is incredibly important to acknowledge because CRP is a fundamental marker of inflammation routinely checked and monitored in blood testing for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Keeping CRP low means keeping inflammation in the body low, which in turn helps keep flares at bay.

2. Manage stress

We constantly hear that lowering stress can improve basically any condition. Sometimes the more we hear something, the less important we think it is. Not when it comes to stress!

Managing stress is a two-fold process. There are ways to (sometimes) reduce or eliminate the very things causing you stress. These could be leaving a soul-sucking job, ending a harmful relationship, or changing where you live. There are some instances where these things can’t be changed, but often we believe we’re stuck in a situation when, in reality, we have the power to change it.

For those scenarios where we can’t change the stressor, we can alter how we respond to it. One way to do this is to recognize when we’re stressing over unimportant things or things we can’t control. Whenever you feel stressed about something, ask yourself if this is:

  • A) important in the grand scheme of life
  • B) something you can control

If the answers are no, change the way you respond to this event.

Other ways to mitigate stress are walking or moving in some way in nature by hiking, biking, or swimming. Try setting aside time for a bath, reading a book for pleasure, painting, practicing yoga or meditation, writing in a gratitude journal, or even scheduling a weekly self-care appointment to get a massage. Stress-reducing activities will look different for everyone because we all enjoy different things.

In a yearlong 2010 study of adults with IBD, use of NSAIDs and antibiotics, as well as infections and stress, were tracked to measure their impacts on flare-ups. Perceived stress, negative mood, and life events were the only factors significantly related to the participants’ flare-ups.

What does this mean when translated to real life? The way we think about things and our reactions to them actually influence our health. By changing the way we deal with stress, we have the ability to keep our bodies on the path of healing.

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3. Keep moving

Movement isn’t just for burning calories and staying trim. Moving our bodies has numerous benefits, but one of them is particularly important for people with IBD: preventing bone loss.

Due to several factors like inflammation, malabsorption, and medications, 50 percent of people with Crohn’s develop osteopenia and one-third of them will have it progress into osteoporosis. Fortunately, participating in low-impact exercise regularly can increase bone mass, as shown in a study over 12 months.

What’s even more appealing about exercise (if you aren’t excited about it already) is that it can also help with the first two things on this list! It can improve your sleep by helping you fall asleep faster and it can help release stress (as long as you aren’t burning yourself out).

There are lots of ways to support your health when living with Crohn’s disease. The best strategies are the ones that you see a benefit from and that don’t stress you out trying to make them work.

25 Things that Living with Crohn’s Disease Has Taught Me






“There are many illnesses and negative things that have happened to people that have gotten them to greatness. Without the obstacles, these people may have never become great.”
– Prince Ea
As I sit here, at my computer, on my 25th birthday (May 16th, 2016). I get a chance to reflect on the past seven years of my life. It has been 7.5 years since I began this crazy journey with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and I am so proud of the transformation that I have gone through to get to this point. As most of you know, May was also IBD Awareness Month, so I want to share with you what living with Crohn’s Disease has taught me.
1. It has taught me to have an appreciation for the little things: having a whole day without pain, being able to get out of bed in the morning, and enjoying food after a serious flare.
2. It has taught me what my life’s purpose is. Before my diagnosis, I had little direction in regards to my life. When my health fell apart, the things that I thought I wanted were no longer important. In order to learn to truly take care of myself, I fell in love with anything health, wellness or nutrition related. These things are my passion now and I hope one day to share them with other IBD patients who want to integrate alternative health modalities into their treatments.
3. It has taught me how to find and use my voice. As I got used to living with an autoimmune disease, I shared more about my journey and holistic perspective on living with Crohn’s. What I never expected was that sharing what I was going through would help me heal, and it truly has.
4. It has taught me how strong I really am. The multiple years without a diagnosis, the frustration and anger, the daily uncontrollable symptoms and pain, and the isolation that come with living with IBD has shown me that I am much stronger than I ever thought I could be.
5. It has taught me how to be more empathetic and understanding of people and their situations. When I was younger, I was never a mean person but I was unaware of the intense things that many people have to deal with. Crohn’s has allowed me to tap into a more empathetic side of myself that can relate to people who may be going through tough times.´6. It has taught me how to develop an internal, subtle confidence. As young teens, we usually identify ourselves by how we look and what we have and develop a loud confidence because of those things. Living with IBD has given me the opportunity to develop confidence within myself that is based on how I treat others (and myself) and how I see people for who they are on the inside.
7. It has taught me that I am able to get through whatever life hands me. Before IBD, I’d never had an event that changed my life drastically. Adjusting to life with an autoimmune disease is tough, but now that I’ve done that, I know that I am better equipped to handle whatever else comes my way.
8. It has taught me that I can stand up for what I believe in. My perspective on living with IBD is different than most, and that has made this whole journey tougher than I thought it would be. However, it has also shown me that I am able to stand behind my beliefs and values, while working with my care team to get the best care possible.
9. It has taught me how to be resourceful. The beginning of my IBD journey was very hard because I had little knowledge about where to find resources to help myself. Going through this life change has shown me that I can dig deep and find information needed to help myself feel better.
10. It has shown me an appreciation for the select few people that have stuck with me on my journey. People come in and out of our lives, but it seems that they move quicker when you’re chronically ill.

12. It has taught me that my health is constantly changing. Over the 7.5 years that I’ve lived with Crohn’s, the way that I eat, relax, exercise and relieve stress have changed so many times, and that is the beauty of life: there is always something new to learn.
13. It has taught me that is okay to be different. Everyone has their obstacle or circumstance that they have to deal with. In the end, we’re all different, and that’s okay!
14. It has taught me how to live in the present moment. Because of the severity of our diseases and the fleeting moments of relief from symptoms, being able to live in the moment and enjoy now is the best practice that we can cultivate as we live our lives with IBD.
15. It has taught me that I can be my own healer. While working with my medical care team, I also did my own homework about holistic health modalities and alternatives that I could incorporate into my life that could help me feel better, and they ′.

17. It has taught me how important my health really is. I have finally realized, with help from my autoimmune disease, how crucial it is to nourish my body, mind and soul so that I can feel fully alive. If I don’t have my health, the other aspects of my life will begin to deteriorate too.
18. It has taught me the value of community. Being able to lean on people in the same situation who know what you’re going through is so inspiring and comforting.
19. It has taught me how to be okay with fitting out. I used to want so badly to fit in with the crowd. Thanks to IBD, I’m now okay with fitting out instead! I have found my “thing” that makes me different, and I’m beginning to see that as a blessing.
20. It has taught me how to find the blessings in health complications.Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a serious, severe condition, and feeling grateful for that diagnosis took a long time. However, I am finally able to say that I am so grateful for the fact that I have Crohn’s Disease and what it has brought into my life and taught me.
21. It has taught me that I can thrive on eating plants. While this lesson was unexpected due to the nature of my disease, I have found that eating a plant-based diet has helped me personally alleviate symptoms and feel my best!
22. It has taught me that I am able to run 13.1 miles. If I was never diagnosed with IBD, I would have never signed up for a Team Challenge Half Marathon in my hometown, completed it and beat my time goal!
23. It has taught me that being vulnerable and sharing my storycan help and inspire others. I never knew that being so open and honest about what I go through and how I live my life would be so helpful for those in similar situations.
24. It has taught me that I am capable of so much more in my life than I had previously thought.Being diagnosed with IBD has shown me that I can be a blogger, health coach, half marathon runner, weight lifter, and plant-based eater. This disease has pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone that I can’t even really remember the person that I used to be because I am so comfortable with who I am now and that is an amazing feeling.
25. It has taught me how to fully love all parts of myself. This has been the toughest lesson to learn because of Crohn’s. I used to be so angry and resentful and fight-minded, and my health didn’t get any better. Then, I tried being happy and loving and thrive-minded, and I’ve really, truly began to thrive!
While living with Crohn’s Disease has made my young adult yearshard, I wouldn’t change a single day of those years. I have learned so much about myself, other people and life because of my disease and I am happy that I can sit down and write this list honestly and openly. My hope is that one day, each of you who read this can write a list like this too!

7 Things You Don't Know About Multiple Sclerosis

Unless you actually suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) or have a close friend or relative who does, you probably know next to nothing about the disease. You might have heard that it has to do with the brain and that it can be pretty debilitating. Maybe you picture someone who’s paralyzed or in a wheelchair, but you’re not sure if that’s accurate or if you might be at risk. (The Power Nutrient Solution is the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition today.)
MS can be confusing and mysterious, but we’re going to try to clear up some of the confusion with these seven facts.
1. No one knows what causes it.

Having mono increases MS risk
Tashatuvango/Shutterstock

Multiple sclerosis is a quirky autoimmune disorder that attacks the insulation protecting the nerves in the brain and spinal cord and ends up targeting the eyes and limbs. About 400,000 Americans have it.
There’s no known cause, but genetics definitely play a role: You have a 3 to 4% chance of developing it if one of your parents had it. And if you have an identical twin with MS, your chance of getting it goes up to 30%. People of Northern European descent are most apt to get it.
Another risk factor is having had mononucleosis. Research shows that people who’ve had the Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mononucleosis) have a higher risk of MS. One recent study, published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis, found that the risk of MS was highest in people under age 26 who carried antibodies for the Epstein-Barr virus.
MORE: 9 Power Foods That Boost Immunity
2. It hits when you’re in your prime. 
MS is the No. 1 cause of neurological disability in young people. “The average age of onset is 25 to 30, so we suspect there’s a relationship between peak fertility, hormones, and the immune system,” says Tanuja Chitnis, MD, an associate professor of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Interestingly, women who have it suffer 70% fewer attacks during pregnancy, though it’s common to relapse soon after giving birth.

Women are twice as likely as men to have MS, but when men do develop MS it’s often more severe.
3. The symptoms can be wide-ranging.
MS is different in everyone. In some people, it inflames the optic nerve and causes a short spate of double vision. (Here are 10 things your eyes say about you.) Other times it attacks the limbs and weakens the legs.
There’s also a lot of variety in the severity of symptoms. Some patients might have an MS attack, get treated, and then be perfectly fine (at least for a while). Others will deteriorate more quickly.
4. It’s not fatal.
MS itself is unlikely to kill you. Most patients have a normal life expectancy and eventually die from something completely unrelated (such as heart disease or cancer). But it can certainly take a toll on your life and ability to function, which can lead to depression; suicide rates are higher than average in people with MS.
5. Symptoms tend to disappear and reappear—sometimes years later.
There are four types of multiple sclerosis, but 85% of patients have the relapsing-remitting variation. It’s not unusual to have a flare-up that lasts a few days or weeks, followed by what seems like a complete recovery. “People come in and they’re wondering, ‘How can I be perfectly healthy and then have these attacks and lesions on my brain?’ ” says Farrah Mateen, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. (This also makes MS hard to diagnose.)
That said, the disease does tend to worsen with age, because as you get older the nervous system isn’t able to repair itself as well. Many people have relapsing-remitting MS that turns into a more rapidly progressing form 10 to 20 years later.
6. You won’t necessarily end up in a wheelchair.
MS often impacts mobility, but don’t assume you’ll become totally disabled. About two-thirds of patients don’t need a wheelchair even 20 years after they were first diagnosed. A cane or crutches might offer all the help you need, though some people who get tired easily or have balance problems may turn to an electric scooter or wheelchair.
7.  There’s no cure—yet.

Vitamin D helps with multiple sclerosis
R Szatkowski/Shutterstock

“I like to tell my patients that we don’t have a working fire extinguisher, but we have a lot of great smoke alarms,” says Mateen. Right now there are many pills, infusions, and injectable drugs that can reduce the chance of a relapse by half.
Getting adequate vitamin D has also been shown to protect against MS (the disease is much more common in Canada and the northern half of the US than it is in southern states) and help keep symptoms in check. Chitnis tells patients to take a vitamin D supplement, as well as a coenzyme Q10 supplement: Research has shown that people with MS who take 500 mg/day of CoQ10 have significantly less inflammation in just 12 weeks.
As for a cure, it’s not just a pipe dream: MS research is very well funded, which is why there have been enormous advances in treatment over the past 20 years. “We’re really starting to see how MS progresses, how neurons degenerate, and how to protect them,” says Chitnis. “Our understanding grows by leaps and bounds all the time, and I fully believe a cure is possible in my lifetime.”

The FDA Has Approved a Revolutionary New Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the protective myelin covering nerve cells. As the cells are stripped of their insulation, it causes inflammation which disrupts communication among cells in the nervous system.  This can lead to muscle weakness, poor coordination, bladder and bowel problems, vision impairment, and cognitive difficulties. MS is thought to affect as many as 2.3 million people worldwide, including over 300,000 Americans. The average American has a 0.1% chance of developing MS.
The condition can take years to progress enough for symptoms to be present, and is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 – 50. But the disease can be very difficult to diagnose definitively: many patients may live with a “probable” diagnosis for years, if not decades, before the disease is diagnosed definitively. The majority of known MS-cases are relapsing-remitting MS, where symptoms are intermittent and followed by periods of complete or partial recovery. 10% of known MS cases can develop into a more rapidly progressive form of the disease called primary progressive MS. There is no known cure for MS, and many existing treatments only partially reduce symptoms, and don’t necessarily halt disease progression. However, the approval of new drug called ocrelizumab might give some MS patients new hope.

OCRELIZUMAB: A NEW HOPE

After obtaining reassuring results from clinical studies, led by UC San Fransancisco’s Stephen Hauser MD, the drug — called Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) — could be a promising new therapy. Like several other treatments for MS and other autoimmune diseases, Ocrevus is an infusion immunosuppressant drug. While most current MS drugs target T-cells, Ocrevus specifically targets a type of B cells that researchers believe are instrumental in the destruction of myelin sheaths that leads to the development of MS.
The Phase III clinical trials for relapse-remitting MS indicated that the drug cut relapse rates by 47%, reduced disability by 43%, and decreased inflammation by 95%, compared to the current standard treatment. Most notably, the drug appeared to slow the advancement of progressive forms of the disease — which have never before been seen in previous trials.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Ocrevus to treat MS patients. The drug — originally developed by Genentech — has been acquired by Roche. They hope the drug has the potential to change millions of lives; from patients who have already been diagnosed with MS, to those who are newly diagnosed.

Hauser’s research and the newly developed Roche drug highlights a new era of medicine. From cures through gene editing to lasering cures, we are gradually becoming the masters of our own health.

Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved! Researchers Find Main Source of Pain

by Donna Ker Leesley,
Researchers have found the main source of pain in Fibromyalgia patients, and contrary to what many believe, it does not stem from the brain. The findings mark the end of a decades-old mystery about the disease, which many doctors believed was conjured in patients’ imaginations. The mystery of Fibromyalgia has left millions of sufferers searching for hope in pain medications. Up until recently, many physicians thought that the disease was “imaginary” or psychological, but scientists have now revealed that the main source of pain stems from a most unlikely place- excess blood vessels in the hand, legs and foot.
The discovery may lead to new treatments and perhaps even a total cure in the future, bringing relief to as many as 5 million Americans thought to have the disease. To solve the Fibromyalgia mystery, researchers zeroed in on the skin from the hand of one patient who had a lack of the sensory nerve fibers, causing a reduced reaction to pain. They then took skin samples from the hands of Fibromyalgia patients and were surprised to find an extremely excessive amount of a particular type of nerve fiber called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts.
Up until this point scientists had thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and did not play any role in pain sensation, but now they’ve discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and the widespread body pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers feel.
The breakthrough also could solve the lingering question of why many sufferers have extremely painful hands and foot as well as other “tender points” throughout the body, and why cold weather seems to aggravate the symptoms. In addition to feeling widespread deep tissue pain, many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from debilitating fatigue.

Neuroscientist Dr. Frank L. Rice explained: “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow at a subconscious level, yet here we had evidences that the blood vessel endings could also contribute to our conscious sense of touch… and also pain,” Rice said. “This mismanaged blood flow could be the source of muscular pain and achiness, and the sense of fatigue which are thought to be due to a build-up of lactic acid and low levels of inflammation fibromyalgia patients. This, in turn, could contribute to the hyperactivity in the brain.”

Current treatments for the disease have not brought complete relief to the millions of sufferers. Therapies include narcotic pain medicines; anti-seizure drugs, anti-depressants and even simple advice such as “get more sleep and exercise regularly.” Now that the cause of Fibromyalgia has been pinpointed, patients are looking forward to an eventual cure. Other expressed frustration about how much they had suffered already:
“When are they ever going to figure out that things are never “all in your head?” said one commenter. “Whenever something doesn’t fit in their tiny little understanding, they belittle the patient and tell them they are crazy. People have suffered through this since they were invented. Prescribing SSRIs for everything is not the answer any more than a lobotomy or hysterectomy was.”
The announcement has the potential to unlock better future treatments and undoubtedly has patients all over the world rejoicing that the mystery of Fibromyalgia has finally been solved.