Updated 06 March 2019

Preventing Crohn’s disease

There are certain steps you can take to help prevent Crohn’s disease. Find out more.

Crohn's disease cannot be prevented, because the causes are still unknown. But these steps may help to prevent the condition:

Follow a healthy diet

There’s no special diet that’s been proven to be effective in preventing Crohn’s disease, but it’s important to follow a healthy diet and to prevent the intake of substances that may trigger inflammation in susceptible people.

Reducing the intake of meat and foods high in trans-fats and refined sugar could help lower your risk of getting Crohn’s disease. As a general rule, try to avoid processed foods as far as possible and focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods. The artificial flavours, colourants and preservatives in processed foods may lead to inflammation.

Focus on a diet high in vegetables (including legumes and starchy vegetables), fruits, plant fats and fish. Also add fermented foods (tempeh, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi) to your meals, as they can help balance the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut.

Don’t smoke

Crohn’s disease appears to be more common in smokers than non-smokers. It’s the most preventable factor in developing the condition.

Manage your stress levels

Chronic stress can lead to inflammation. Although stress isn’t linked to causing Crohn's disease, it can make your signs and symptoms worse, and may trigger flare-ups.

It’s therefore a good strategy to incorporate stress-management techniques (such as exercise, meditation, breathing techniques, yoga) into your daily routine.

Drink plenty of clean, safe water

Your gut simply cannot perform all its necessary functions if it doesn’t get enough fluid. It’s therefore important to drink plenty of water every day. A lack of water can eventually lead to the following complications: kidney stones as well as liver, muscle and joint damage.

Reviewed by Kim Hofmann, registered dietitian, BSc Medical (Honours) Nutrition and Dietetics, BSc (Honours) Psychology. December 2017.