The Crohn’s Disease Connection

I think it is interesting that there are so many diagnoses in the medical world but not a lot of reasons as to why the diseases in the body occur.  One disease that has been undetermined as to what its cause is, is Crohn’s disease.  Crohn’s disease, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), is an inflammatory disease of the intestines that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms.  It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst),vomiting and weight loss but may also cause complications outside of the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration.  Crohn’s disease is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation; it is classified as a type of inflammatory bowel disease.  There has been evidence of a genetic link to Crohn’s disease, putting individuals with siblings afflicted with the disease at higher risk.  When I read about this, I almost felt like I could substitute Celiac Disease, and get the same definition: autoimmune, rashes, inflammation of the bowels, genetic, all key concepts to understanding celiac disease and gluten allergies.  The research also makes note of stunted growth and delayed puberty in children, as well as weight loss.  More importantly, anemia and arthritic complications are also associated with Crohn’s disease.
Research has shown that those with Crohn’s disease also have a high prevalence of celiac disease. In fact, researchers in Italy suggest that patients diagnosed with Crohn’s should go on a completely gluten free diet. What is fascinating is that those looking for a cure to Crohn’s are aware that there are genetic and environmental factors involved and that the environmental factors are associated with diet. However, there is only a link between the symptoms and the diet relating to an intake of milk proteins, animal proteins and certain kinds of fats. Nothing is mentioned about gluten intake. And in fact, the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are so broad that doctors often have a hard time diagnosing it in the first place. The prognosis is a life time of medications to control the symptoms as well as treatment of acute symptoms as they come up. I bring this disease up to make people aware of one important thing when dealing with gluten allergies: Doctors may try to label your symptoms as something else. They may tell you to go on medications; that you will have to ‘live with it.’ Be active in your prognosis. Do your own research and, just for the heck of it, go off gluten for a month or so. See how you feel. You may save yourself a great big headache, and stomach ache, in the long run.
I like making lunches for the week for myself. I find that I don’t have to think about what I am going to make each day, especially when I have a very busy day or get called to work at the last minute. These Spinach Rice cakes are great for lunch! They are great when you have left over rice from another meal and you don’t know what to do with it. Feel free to add your own sauces and seasonings to spice things up a bit.
Spinach Rice Cakes

2 tsp. olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
10 oz. frozen spinach
2 ¼ cups water
1 cup basmati rice
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup salsa
½ cup mozzarella shredded cheese
Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In medium sauce pan, add water, rice and spinach. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Add onions and garlic to rice mixture.
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
Mix Egg replacer and water. Set for 5 minutes.
Stir in egg mixture, parmesan cheese and pepper to rice mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form rice mixture into 8 inch patties. Uses about ½ cup of mixture. Make 6 patties.
Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and return to oven for 1 minute.
Serve with a dollop of salsa on top. Enjoy!

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