Proper hydration is important for everyone, and even more so when you have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease. Certain Crohn’s symptoms, such as diarrhea, can raise your risk for dehydration, says Kristina Arquette, RD, a clinical dietitian at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “Chronic diarrhea is common with individuals who have Crohn’s, which increases your risk for kidney stones. This makes hydration extremely important. You want to drink at least eight glasses of water or fluids to stay hydrated.” However, all fluids aren’t created equal: While some are clearly good or bad for Crohn’s, how you react to other drinks may vary.
2 / 10 No: Soda for Crohn’s Disease
Even if you don’t mind the taste of diet soda, you might be better off choosing a different beverage to quench your thirst when you have IBD-related Crohn’s symptoms. “Carbonation can increase feelings of fullness and reduce food intake,” says Tara Harwood, RD, a dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic. “This may be an issue for those requiring additional calorie requirements or who have lost weight. Soda is not an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and I would not recommend someone filling up on it.”
3 / 10 Yes: Water for Crohn’s Disease
It may not sound exciting, but the best hydration when managing an IBD such as Crohn’s disease is water, plain and simple. There’s no other beverage that will work harder to help you overcome the negative effects of Crohn’s symptoms. “Plenty of water is recommended,” says Harwood. This is especially true when diarrhea strikes and your fluid needs are even greater.
4 / 10 No: Coffee for Crohn’s Disease
Coffee has been cited for both plusses and minuses in health studies, but the verdict for IBD and Crohn’s disease tends to swing toward “avoid.” The high amount of caffeine in coffee can aggravate certain unpleasant Crohn’s symptoms. “Coffee is okay in small amounts, but it tends to loosen stools and increase frequency of diarrhea,” says Jeffry A. Katz, MD, medical director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.
5 / 10 Yes: Meal Replacement Shakes for Crohn’s Disease
If you’re having difficulty maintaining weight, a characteristic trait of IBD and Crohn’s disease, a good meal replacement shake will deliver concentrated nutrition in a calorie-dense beverage. “Make sure the product is free of lactose, fructose, inulin [a type of carbohydrate fiber], and sugar alcohols,” advises Patsy Catsos, a registered licensed dietitian in Portland, Maine and author of IBS — Free at Last! “Commercially prepared shakes such as Boost can be very helpful, either as meal replacements or between meals to increase calorie and protein intake.”
6 / 10 No: Fruit Juice for Crohn’s Disease
Though seemingly healthful, juices are often loaded with sugar — natural and added — which can be a real problem if you have Crohn’s disease or another IBD. “They’re not recommended, especially if sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup,” says Catsos. “Even 100 percent fruit juices can make Crohn’s symptoms worse. I’d limit it to 3 to 4 ounces per serving.”
7 / 10 Yes: Coconut Water for Crohn’s Disease
After a bout of severe diarrhea, a common Crohn’s symptom, you may need a little more punch than just plain old water. In this instance, for an IBD like Crohn’s disease, it’s best to turn to products with added electrolytes. Coconut water — a natural source of electrolytes — may make a refreshing change, says Catsos. If you choose another electrolyte replacement beverage, she adds, “ try to avoid those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or crystalline fructose, or those with artificial coloring.” Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about dehydration.
8 / 10 Maybe: Milk for Crohn’s Disease
Milk provides protein and essential vitamins and minerals, yet it may aggravate Crohn’s symptoms if you have small-bowel Crohn’s disease — damage from the disease can lead to a loss of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the lactose, or sugar, in milk, says Dr. Katz. The answer? Catsos suggests lactose-free cow’s milk rather than dairy alternatives like soy or rice milk — you’ll get more protein and plenty of calcium in every 8-ounce glass.
9 / 10 Maybe: Herbal Teas for Crohn’s Disease
Certain teas may be a soothing, warm alternative for people with IBD or Crohn’s disease. But others can exacerbate Crohn’s symptoms, so you have to be careful about which you choose. “Some teas are mixtures of herbs and other ingredients that may not be appropriate for people with Crohn’s,” explains Erica Ilton, RD, a nutritionist in the division of pediatric gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital and a dietitian in private practice in New York City. An example of an unwanted ingredient is senna, she says — the herb acts as a laxative. “Others are very soothing and beneficial,” Ilton says. “In the latter category, I would put ginger, fennel, and peppermint.” But she suggests skipping the peppermint if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as well as Crohn’s symptoms.
10 / 10 Maybe: Alcohol and Crohn’s Disease
Alcohol isn’t completely off the table if you have an IBD like Crohn’s disease, but you need to practice moderation to ensure that you don’t exacerbate your Crohn’s symptoms. “Limit to one drink per day or less,” says Catsos. “Some individuals find any amount of alcohol irritates their GI tract.” And, as a precaution, she says to check with your pharmacist to see if alcohol interacts with any of your medications.