Crohn’s disease is evil. It doesn’t really kill you but it’s a life long disease that makes a normal life very difficult. Imagine the worst stomach flu you’ve ever had, and living with that everyday. More than half a million Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease and they are essentially imprisoned by the disease. If the venture away from their home, out of reach of a toilet, they need to plan their trip carefully to make sure they are always within minutes from a toilet. Many of them have mobile homes instead of normal cars so they always have a toilet nearby.
Crohn’s disease is chronic inflammation in the intestines leading to internal bleeding, pain and diarrhea. It’s caused by the immune system attacking the inside walls of the intestines and they become inflamed and swollen. This cause problems with digestion, it it typically very painful to eat and the long term impact of this is that people who suffer from Crohn’s typically have issues with maintaining weight and sometimes even suffer from malnutrition due to the poor condition of the intestines. 90% of the people suffering from Crohn’s need surgery at some point to deal with the serious bowl issues it causes.
“Crohn’s is a surgical disease. We wait until the patient can no longer withstand the pain anymore, and then we perform surgery and repeated surgeries over time ultimately, as recurrences happen and intestinal damage occurs, we just cut and cut, in some cases, until there is no more intestine that can be cut out. ” (source)
Surgery doesn’t cure Crohn’s disease, it typically comes back shortly after the surgery but at least surgery restore some functionality of the digestion system.
Crohn’s is MAP-ped to milk
To begin with, research on the link between milk and Crohne’s disease is not conclusive. Plenty of research suggest that there is a strong link but the dairy industry is obviously presenting research and theories to counter this. Nevertheless, they do agree on a few things and let’s get back to that shortly.
To put this into context, there’s a disease in cattle called Johne’s disease which is very similar to Crohn’s disease. Johne’s disease is very problematic for the dairy industry because it “causes substantial economic losses through death and loss of productivity during the prolonged preclinical stage” (source). Johne’s disease is caused by Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis, or MAP in short.
MAP is spread via faeces and milk and since the incubation period is long it’s difficult to detect, therefore cattle farms must test frequently (=expensive) and make sure they have a process for isolating animals suspected to carry Johne’s disease.
Research in UK found that approximately 17% of the dairy farms had had Johne’s disease at some point (source) and another report from UK found that 2% of the pasteurized milk contained MAP (source).
Let’s get back to the things that scientists on both sides of the camp agree on:
That’s about it. The controversy is on the role of MAP in Crohne’s disease. The pro-dairy scientists argue that MAP is a passive by-stander in Crohn’s and not a cause of Crohn’s. The other side of the camp argue that the link was clearly established already back in 1965 (source) but due to the power of the dairy industry the research doesn’t reach the mainstream media and the institutions issuing national dietary advise.
Living with Crohn’s
There’s no cure for Crohn’s but you can manage Crohn’s with anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs to repress the immune system combined with change of diet to reduce risk of inflammation and improve nutrition.
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crohn's, crohn's disease, dairy, eat clean, inflammation, johne's disease, milk, paleo, paleo diet
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