Green Smoothies For Crohn’s Disease: Research And Recipes
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are on the rise. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 3 million Americans suffer from this chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.1 Drinking green smoothies can help lower that number.
There are two types of IBD: Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the lining of the digestive tract, and ulcerative colitis, which mainly impacts the colon or rectum. We’ll focus on Crohn’s disease for this article and share the best green smoothies to nourish this health condition.
Why the increased rates? It’s likely the toll from the Standard American Diet full of processed, packaged foods and refined sugar and flour that our bodies simply don’t recognize. If there’s one thing the human body knows, it’s plant foods, and they could be the key to nourishing your body as it heals from Crohn’s.
In This Article:
- What Is Crohn’s Disease?
- What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
- Treatment for Crohn’s Disease
- Lifestyle Chances for Crohn’s Disease
- Best Foods for Crohn’s Disease Support
- Green Smoothie Recipes for Crohn’s Disease
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is inflammation of the digestive tract. This condition can cause significant pain, especially if it progresses further into the bowel tissue. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include2:
- Abdominal pain
- Low appetite
- Severe diarrhea
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
- Anal fistula (a hole between the inner anus and surrounding tissue)
- Inflammation in skin, eyes, joints, liver, or bile ducts
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there is no officially recognized cause, but there are several theories about what increases risk.3
- Bacteria in your gut may cause an autoimmune reaction, meaning your immune system attacks healthy cells.
- NSAID usage (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen)
Treatment for Crohn’s Disease
Conventional medicine has no cure for Crohn’s and uses a variety of medications to control symptoms, like steroids and immunomodulators.4 This school of thought also recommends short-term liquid diets to allow the bowels to rest, and for more advanced Crohn’s, the recommended course of action is surgery. There is a risk for complications with these methods, none of which are pretty. Basically, if you head to the doctor with CD, chances are you’re leaving feeling pretty pessimistic.
But there is hope.
Plant-Based Diet For Crohn’s
New evidence shows that certain lifestyle shifts, such as transitioning to a plant-based diet, can keep Crohn’s symptoms at bay.5 According to the study, “several human trials have demonstrated that plant-based dietary therapies may have utility in both the treatment of acute CD flares and the maintenance of remission.”
The case study covered in the above research followed a man diagnosed with Crohn’s at 25 years old. He went the conventional route with intravenous medication, a treatment that left him with minimal improvements, and continued symptoms of pain and fatigue.
Many Crohn’s patients think they shouldn’t eat fibrous plant food because a type of fiber found in vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—insoluble fiber—is indigestible. Its purpose is to bulk up our stool so it can pass through the digestive tract more easily. It was widely thought that having to go to the bathroom more often would be more irritating to the bowels, but more evidence is showing that plant fiber actually aids in digestion and, as the research notes, may be key to combating the disease.
The man went on a whole foods, plant-based diet following the conventional treatment and began exercising regularly. Within six months, he was symptom-free, and a colonoscopy revealed he had healed completely! How’s that for no cure? And he’s not the first, either. There are plenty of similar stories you’ll hear from people around the world.
Lifestyle Changes for Crohn’s Disease
Diet is a major factor in managing Crohn’s disease symptoms, of course, and I’ll get into that below, but as you read above, the food you eat is just one piece of the puzzle. The mind/body aspect of healing is the rest!
Stress can seriously affect the gut and flare up autoimmune disease symptoms. And the gut is what needs healing! So naturally, we want to be able to de-stress.
Some new practices you can try bringing into your lifestyle can be meditation, skin brushing, lymphatic self-massage, yoga or gentle stretching, other exercises, or breathwork. Also consider the stressful aspects of your daily life, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional. Maybe you’re not able to do strenuous exercise, or take on too much at work, or maybe there are toxic relationships in your life that you need to let go of. These things matter!
As you heal from Crohn’s, you must be your first priority, and incorporating self-care practices can help you stay centered, calm, and focused on your healing journey.
[Related Vibe Podcast: Discovering Your Innate Power For Self-Healing With Dr. Charles Cropley]
Best Foods for Crohn’s Disease Support
Starting off by eliminating processed foods (including gluten, dairy, and packaged goods) can be an important first step. If time is an issue, keep in mind that making your own meals in bulk (preparing big batches of green smoothies or simple meals to last throughout the week) will end up saving you time and stress in the long run.
To really support your digestive system as it heals, incorporate some of the following foods into your diet. They contain key nutrients for gastrointestinal health like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc.
- Sweet potato
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and Seeds
Why Are Green Smoothies Helpful For Crohn’s Disease?
Smoothies are a great tool for those who are suffering from digestive issues. A lot of the digestive work of breaking up fiber has already been done, so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to do the rest. Blending up your ingredients, especially those that may be tougher to digest on their own, breaks them down even more than you could by chewing (but you should still “chew” your green smoothies!). Once they get to your stomach, the food particles are small enough to move through your digestive system without much issue.
Gut-Healthy Green Smoothie Add-In
One addition that will be beneficial to any of these smoothie recipes is bone broth protein. It’s a flavorless supplement (although flavored options are also available), so don’t worry about your fruity breakfast tasting like chicken. A main benefit of bone broth protein for Crohn’s sufferers is its gut-soothing collagen. It helps bodies build and maintain connective tissue, including the lining of the digestive tract. It also helps keep tissues hydrated and strong.
Green Smoothie Recipes for Crohn’s Disease
Both spinach and mangoes are great sources of Vitamin A, which is soothing to mucous membranes in the body. This includes the lining of the digestive tract, which needs all the healing it can get when recovering from Crohn’s disease. This green smoothie is a tasty way to use food as medicine.
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 banana
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup frozen mangoes
- 1 tsp chia seeds
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and mix until smooth.
This smoothie is super hydrating with juicy Vitamin A-rich watermelon. Its sweetness is balanced out by fresh lime juice, which can help stimulate stomach acid needed to break down the food you eat (or drink). Baby spinach or baby kale is a neutral way to get in an extra serving of veggies, too.
Depending where you are in your recovery, your stomach may be sensitive to even small amounts of alcohol in vanilla extract. Look for alcohol-free extracts (usually made with vegetable glycerin), or vanilla bean paste.
- 7 cups fresh or frozen watermelon
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 1 cup ice
- 4 limes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Squeeze the juice from the limes and add with the other ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth, and enjoy now or freeze in ice-cubes to blend later for a slushy treat!
Pineapple is a great addition to your gut-healing diet because it contains bromelain, an anti-inflammatory compound that helps soothe the digestive system. The zinc-rich almonds in this recipe also are immune boosters–and since the immune system lives in the gut, it’s doubly important to support it.
- 12 raw almonds, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 fresh or frozen banana
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Blend water and almonds together for 60-90 seconds until very smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Enjoy throughout the day.
Note: For extra anti-inflammatory, gut-healing powers, replace 1/4 cup of the water with 1/4 cup of organic aloe vera gel.
You know how chia seeds get all slimy when you let them sit in water for a bit? The slick gel that it creates is actually great for the lining of your digestive tract. Spirulina, the blue-green algae is, too, thanks to the amino acid glutamine. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the spirulina, unless you want to taste the ocean—a little goes a long way!
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 banana
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 chopped English Cucumber
- 1 1/2 cups kale, rinsed and de-stemmed
- 1 small organic lemon, quartered
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1/2 tsp spirulina
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 cup ice
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and mix until smooth to enjoy.
Aside from the amazing pink color this combo produces, the probiotic benefits you get from this smoothie (if you go for the kefir option) are great for developing the health of your gut. Having a healthy balance of good bacteria has a cascade effect on the rest of your body, since so much of the body is affected by gut health, and you may see improvements in your digestion, skin, mood, sleep, and more.
- 1 1/2 cup coconut water (optional: “ferment” it overnight on the counter with water kefir grains, strain, and replace with new coconut water for the following morning.)
- 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
- 2-4 large dates pitted
- 1 whole large carrot cut in chunks
- 1 golf ball sized raw beet peeled
- 1-2 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 12 whole large strawberries or frozen blueberries
Blend all ingredients aside from berries in high-powered blender until smooth. Add berries, complete blending until smooth, and enjoy.
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.
- “Inflammatory Bowel Disease Prevalence (IBD) in the United States.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 21, 2019.
- “Crohn’s Disease.” Mayo Clinic. June 26, 2019.
- “Symptoms & Causes of Crohn’s Disease.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). September 2017.
- “Treatment for Crohn’s Disease.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). September 2017.
- Sandefur, Kelsea et al. “Crohn’s Disease Remission with a Plant-Based Diet: A Case Report.” Nutrients. 2019, 11(6), 1385; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061385
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