Crohn's disease

  1. Ease Crohn's disease with vitamin D

    When you have Crohn's disease, not even a day at the beach is a day at the beach.

    You have to carefully plan everything you want to do around your proximity to bathrooms. If you've planned poorly and your bowels betray you, you face embarrassment and outright humiliation.

    There's the body-bending stomach cramps... the awful gas... and of course that urgent dash to the toilet. And if you're on a beach, the bathroom could be far away, have a long line and look like a crime scene inside.

    But don't let that stop you. It turns out if you've got Crohn's a day at the beach is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered -- because it's the best source of the leading weapon we have against this disease: The sun!

    When you get sun exposure, your body makes vitamin D, one of nature's most powerful inflammation fighters and a potent immune booster. Crohn's, of course, is an inflammatory bowel disorder that's accompanied by immune system dysfunction.

    Talk about a match made in heaven.

    Americans who live in the sun-soaked South have half the Crohn's risk of those who live to the north. But D can do more than help you avoid this disease. It can treat it if you have it -- because a new study finds that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day can help you better maintain your intestinal permeability.

    That's the "leakiness" of your gut. The more it leaks, well... I think you get the picture.

    As a result, D supplements can slash your inflammation and raise your quality of life, according to the placebo-controlled study.

    Of course I would encourage you to get a daily dose of D the old-fashioned way, from sunscreen-free exposure to the sun. But since everything from the seasonal angle of the earth to cloud cover to clothing can impact how much D you generate, make sure you cover all your bases by taking a vitamin D supplement.

    The 2,000 IU per day used in the new study is what I'd call a "good start." Many people, especially those with chronic disease such as Crohn's, could use double that amount or more.

    Your own doc can help you figure out how much you need and the best ways to get it.

  2. Want better bowels? Head south

    The science on irritable bowels is clear as day: Meds do absolutely nothing for this condition.

    Yet docs keep dishing them out anyway. And when one doesn't work, they'll try another... and another... and another.

    It's a waste of everyone's time -- and meanwhile, your bowels are not only madder than ever, you're battling drug side effects to boot.

    Now, new research confirms what I've been telling you all along: Low vitamin D levels play a critical role in any number of bowel disorders, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

    Americans who live in the sun-soaked south are 52 percent less likely to come down with Crohn's and 38 percent less likely to get hit with ulcerative colitis than folks who live up north, according to the study in the journal Gut.

    This gels with other studies, which find that Crohn's is rare in the sunniest climes along the equator, and gets more common the further north you go (Sorry, Canada).

    Of course, there's a lot more to a healthy gut than adequate vitamin D levels. Naturally, diet plays a major role as well.

    The best way to find out which foods are behind your pain is with a food elimination diet -- a painstaking and time-consuming diet that involves starting with almost nothing and then slowly adding foods to see which ones send you running for the toilet.

    I won't lie -- it's a lot of work. If you're not ready to go through all that, try my shortcut: I had the inside scoop on the five ingredients most likely to cause bowel trouble in the December 2010 issue of my Douglass Report newsletter. Click here to get all the details.

  3. The vitamin that can beat Crohn's

    One of the worst of these conditions is Crohn's disease, a relentless assault on the gut that can force sufferers to wonder if they're paying for crimes from a previous life. Don't lose hope -- because you might be able to get a lighter sentence by turning to the simple and safe vitamin I've been urging you to take all along: vitamin D3.

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