Dietary Therapy for Crohn’s Disease

Posted 8.25.11 | Nutrition Specialist

Crohn’s Disease (CD) is a type inflammatory bowel disease.  It may occur in any part of the GI tract but usually it affects the small intestine and/or the colon.  Individuals with CD have periods of improvements and periods of “flare ups” when symptoms present.  Symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, weight loss and in children, growth delay, etc.

Image Source: is thought to be caused by an abnormal immune system.  One theory is that the immune system mistakes its own friendly gut bacteria and foods traveling through the GI tract as pathogens and triggers an immune reaction to attack them.  Treatment usually is with drugs (such as steroids and immune system suppressors) which are used to manage symptoms and to prolong the periods between flare ups as long as possible.

Nutritional Management of Crohn’s Disease: 
Nutrition is an important factor for patients with CD.  During flare ups, inflammation of the GI tract may disrupt the normal absorption of nutrients.  This can cause serious nutrient deficiencies so it’s important to assess the need for nutritional supplements.  During periods of severe symptoms, intestines may be unable to absorb enough nutrition to sustain life, so the physician may prescribe an alternate way to provide nutrition, such as temporary intravenous nutrition or enteral nutrition.  With enteral nutrition, the patients may consume an elemental formula, a nutritionally-complete liquid formula that provides all nutrients in the simplest form which makes it easy for the GI tract to absorb.  This allows the GI tract to rest and repair itself, while ensuring the patient is still receiving adequate nutrition.

Crohn’s Disease in Children: 
Long-term steroid use can have serious side-effects.  In children, the growth impairment associated with steroid use is a serious concern, especially combined with the fact children with CD are also more prone to consume inadequate calories.  Some families choose to treat flare-ups and prolong remissions using nutritional management rather than steroids.  An elemental diet or even a half elemental diet can help manage flare ups, prolong remissions and ensure proper nutrition & growth for children with CD.  E028 Splash and Neocate Junior may be useful for children with CD who are following dietary therapies.

 If you are searching for more information on the use of diet to manage CD, many families find the book “Beat Crohn’s” helpful.

 - Mallory

Image Source:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse  

Read Comments (2)

  • 2012-02-18 | Laura

    My daughternhas crohn’s. In 2009 (age 11) she did 6 weeks of exclusive enteral nutrition -EEN- with E028 spash. She achieved remission, and supplemented her diet with the formula to today. She is flaring agin and is on a new round of 6 weeks of EEN. She is tierd of the flavor of E028 Splash ( she does not like the grape one, only tolerates the other two flavors) what other formula from NEOCATE could she try? Is there anywhere where we could get samples?

  • 2012-02-21 | Mallory

    Hi Laura- Thanks so much for your feedback. We’d be happy to send you some samples of our different flavors of Neocate Junior. Like Splash, Neocate Junior is amino acid-based and hypoallergenic. It is slightly higher in vitamins, minerals and protein but in terms of calories, they both contain 30 calories per ounce. It comes as a powder that you mix with water to prepare and comes in chocolate, tropical and vanilla flavors. We’d be happy to send you some samples to see if she likes any of them! Just give our Nutrition Specialists a call at 1-800-NEOCATE. I hope she’ll enjoy some new flavors!

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.