For the first five years after my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, I was malnourished. It was the main source of my fatigue which interfered with both my job and personal life. Because the inflammation was in my small intestine, it couldn’t properly absorb the nutrients I needed. I had never needed to think about how to avoid dehydration and malnutrition, so I started my search and found products that helped me supercharge my nutrient intake so my body had a better chance of absorbing what I needed.
Chronic illness and inflammation take their tolls on our bodies. I don’t have to tell you that; we live it every day! When the cells that make up our organs and bodily systems aren’t fueled properly on top of everything else, it’s like pouring lighter fluid on a blaze that is already out of control. The malnutrition and dehydration make everything even worse.
In order to give your body its best chance at coping with chronic illness, you need to fuel it appropriately. These are the things I use to make sure I give myself the best chance at avoiding malnutrition and dehydration during a flare. When I began using them consistently, my blood work numbers went up on the basic metabolic panel. I don’t use all of these daily, but I do use them all on a regular basis.
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I am not a medical professional. This is simply advice based on what works for me. Consult the appropriate medical professional before making changes to your diet or routine.
Many of us with digestive conditions don’t tolerate greens well. Even if you do, getting enough of them is always hard. Enter: greens powder! Not only does it give you a chance to consume far more greens than you would from the whole food, the powder makes it much easier for your body to absorb the nutrients. I like this formula from Amazing Grass.
Calcium + Vitamin D
Calcium is a difficult mineral to absorb. Taking it in conjunction with vitamin D boosts absorption. Not only does calcium help build strong bones, it contributes to our blood clotting, muscles contracting, and hearts beating.
B12 helps make DNA and keeps nerve and blood cells happy. It also helps prevent anemia. Anemia is an old, very unwelcome friend of mine, so I take B12 every single day. It’s recommended for anyone who eats a vegan diet to take B12 or seek out foods enriched with it like nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is in my recipe for tahini dressing in the 3 Day Vegan Low Fiber Meal Plan for a Stricture. I make it weekly at least.
This isn’t right for everyone. Iron pills are known to cause constipation and who needs that noise on top of what we already have going on?! These tabs by Rainbow Light can be easier on the tummy.
Turmeric is beloved for its anti-inflammatory properties. I take it for the inflammation from my Crohn’s, but also to prevent muscle soreness after a hard workout when I have a good day. Studies show it’s most effective when taken in conjunction with a fat or piperine, the active compound found in black pepper. This brand formulates it with organic ingredients for best absorption and partners with Vitamin Angels which provides supplemental nutrition to people in need.
What DOESN’T spirulina do?! It’s one of the most economical superfoods I’ve seen, and has a ton of benefits in that small green tablet. I’ve recently added it to my daily routine, and it helps me feel more energised. TBD on the iron levels — I get my labs done in a. few weeks. Spirulina:
- Is made up of easily digestible vegan protein
- Speeds recovery after workouts
- Decreases anemia (my favorite quality)
- Contributes to energy levels
Protein powder with superfoods
I talk a lot about my daily smoothie, and that’s because it’s hands down the best part of my day dietarily. There are about a zillion protein powders out there on the market, so it’s super hard and overwhelming to choose! I’ve compared and contrasted my buns off and my favorite for a comprehensive nutrition profile, low sugar, plant-based, non-GMO, and TASTY (cause I wouldn’t look forward to it on the daily if it wasn’t delicious) is Orgain. They have an array of products, and anything I’ve tried, I’ve liked.
This is a powder you mix into your water to absorb the hydration more quickly. Using Cellular Transport Technology, a precise blend of sugar and salt, your body can reap the benefits of that glass of water 2 – 3 times faster. Good news when you’ve been on the toilet all day or prepped for a colonoscopy and need to recover! They give Liquid I.V. to communities in need for each purchase made.
Laird Hamilton is a big wave surfing legend and all-around super human. His company, Laird Superfood, is focused on bringing super foods that elite athletes use to the mainstream market while treating people and the planet kindly along the production path. They aim to maximize things you already do like drink coffee and water. Some favorites of mine are Instafuel and superfood creamers. I haven’t yet tried the daily jumpstart, but based on how much I like the other things they make, I know it’s gotta be good too.
I actually think coconut water on its own is super gross. The flavors loaded with sugar are GREAT, but of course they are. They’re loaded with sugar! I use plain coconut water as the base for my smoothies to supercharge my electrolytes when I’m at risk of dehydration during a flare from going to the bathroom 10 times in a day. I buy a big box so I don’t have to get it very often. CocoGoods Co. reinvests 2.5% of their profits back into the farmers who grow their coconuts.
These things add up quickly! To buy all of it today would cost a fortune. When I first started, I added one thing at a time and staggered when I bought things based on my pay checks. I’m a middle school teacher, so I understand money being tight! This helps in two ways:
- Adding one thing at a time gives you the chance to see if you don’t tolerate something well or, inversely, if something helps you a ton.
- Staggering when you buy something gives your pay checks some breathing room. If you only buy one or two things each pay check, it’s much easier to handle on the budget
How to Choose Which Products to Buy
You may notice that I choose companies for myself that aren’t always the cheapest option. Each time I spend my hard-earned money, I want to know that I’m giving it to a company that shares my values of kindness to people and the planet. (As often as I can, anyway!) As always, do what’s right for you! You know yourself and your body better than anyone else.
Paying attention to what our bodies need so we can avoid dehydration and malnutrition during a flare can be an overwhelming task. Start one step at a time. Choose one thing that affects your life the most and tackle that one. Once you know how to take care of that one, choose the next thing to address. Remember the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at time.” Step up to your proverbial elephant, choose where to take the first bite, and take action.
Have you had any success with products like these to avoid dehydration and malnutrition during a flare? Which one do you want to try? Any problems I didn’t mention that you’d like help with concerning hydration and nutrition? Comment below and share this post with anyone who needs it!