Natasha Dunn

What is inflammatory bowel disease? IBD is a term used to describe conditions associated with chronic inflammation of the digestive system. It’s thought IBD is caused by immune system malfunction, and maybe more common in people with family history of the disease.   IBD encompasses both crones disease and ulcerative colitis

People with IBD have reduced healthy bacteria in the gut. This type of gut flora helps to manufacture vitamin K and vitamin B to help in the prevention of infection. The reduction of gut flora from IBD can disrupt immune function and in women change sex hormone profile, causing fertility issues. Healthy flora is the largest immune organ in the body.

In a study conducted by Vagianos, K et al (2007), several nutritional deficiencies in IBD sufferers were observed, these included haemoglobin, ferritin, vitamin B6, carotene, vitamin B12, vitamin D, albumin (protein) and zinc.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease are very similar to irritable bowel disease (IBS) such as; cramping, and diarrhoea Although it is accompanied with weight loss and intestinal bleeding which is not found with IBS

Risk Factors
  • Stress
  • Bacterial infections
  • Genetics
  • The main risk factor that leads to Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis is the fact they are autoimmune, which means so the body 
attacks its own immune system
Dietary Recommendations
  • Avoid high fibre, spicy and high fatty foods as they may worsen the symptoms of IBD.
  • Low-residue diet is recommended this means a diet that limits high-fibre foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and vegetables cooked with skin on.
  • Foods that should be avoided are fatty, spicy foods such as pastries, chips
, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and fried foods
  • Foods that should be eaten are a balance of healthy foods full of nutrients, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Eat meat, eggs and milk for vitamin B12 for healthy blood and nervous tissue
  • Folic acid found in leafy green vegetables, breads, cereal, nuts,
whole grain and cereals
  • Calcium
  • Plenty of water


  • Calcium to help with the reduced bone density IBD sufferers tend to have (found in cheese, yoghurt, salmon, seeds and beans)
  • Folic acid can reduce symptoms
  • Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), such that vitamin D aids in reducing inflammation and maintaining bone density, many drugs and steroids and drugs used for treating IBD, reduces the absorption of these fat soluble vitamins in the body. It is recommended to use a good multivitamin to make sure the body is not deficient in vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Foods that are yellow, orange and green leafy vegetables, vegetables such as squash, sweet potato, carrots are a good source of carotene.
  • albumin (protein) can be found in eggs, lean meat, fish, Greek yoghurt, legumes and quinoa.

Foods to Support Gut Flora

  • Avocado
  • Raw coconut cream
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sauerkraut
  • Artichokes
  • Fresh vegetable juice
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir/probiotics

If you suspect IBD, please consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment, as IBD can be very serious if left untreated. It is important that you are diagnosed and well managed.

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Bold, J and Bedford, S (2016). Integrated approaches to infertility, IVF and recurrent miscarriage a handbook. London and Philadelphia

Patient Care & Health Information sited 17th March 2018. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353315

Vagianos, K., Savita, B., McConnell, J., Bernstein, C, N. (2007) Nutrition Assessment of Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease ‘Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition’ 31, 4, 311-319

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