Jeff Hordley, 49, has played the role of Cain Dingle on ITV’s Emmerdale since 2000. But the actor wasn’t always certain his gig on the soap would last. Before joining the show, Jeff had been diagnosed with an inflammatory digestive condition known as Crohn’s disease. The star was scared the lifelong condition would affect his career.
Earlier this year, his wife and co-star Zoe Henry, 45, who plays Rhona Goskirk, opened up about her husband’s condition and revealed it’s changed their lives.
Speaking to the panel on Loose Women in February this year, Zoe said: “He was diagnosed when he was about 18, so he was 23 when I met him, and it’s sort of changed our lives.”
But Zoe revealed one particular thing that helps Jeff manage living with Crohn’s disease – their allotment.
She said: “There’s a lot to be said about mental health and having your hands in the soil – that’s a big one for me.
“For Jeff, it’s the health benefits of eating what we’ve grown.
“It’s great to share with my kids as well…not that they love it, they hate it. But I’m working on that!”
Jeff started to become aware of his condition when he experienced stomach pain.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in 2009 he revealed: “Even though I tried to avoid foods that upset my digestive system, such as coffee and Chinese takeaways, I was still sick and tired and I kept losing weight.
“I was a drama student in Manchester and sometimes I had to miss lectures because I was too tired. I even had to drop out of my final year plays.”
The actor was diagnosed with the condition after being referred by his GP to a specialist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
It was then, the specialist spotted his symptoms immediately.
The NHS lists the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease as:
- Diarrhoea – which may come on suddenly
- Stomach aches and cramps – most often in the lower-right part of the tummy
- Blood in poo
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Weight loss
But it should be noted a person with Crohn’s disease may not have all these symptoms.
The Emmerdale star experienced diarrhoea, stomach pain, severe tiredness and weight loss.
He said: “Some sufferers may also experience swollen joints, mouth ulcers, inflamed eyes and rashes on their body.”
With the help of a nutritionist, Jeff discovered going on a wheat, dairy sugar and alcohol free diet for short periods at a time helps his symptoms and energy level, Mail Online reported in 2013.
While he reaps the benefits of his allotment, the actor also reportedly avoids coffee and monosodium glutamate, as these aggravate his condition.
Jeff is no longer on medication, but also takes aloe vera juice to ease digestion, probiotics to restore the good bacteria in the gut, and a supplements called simba, which he’s said supports the immune system.
Alongside these diet changes, Jeff also makes sure he goes running three times a week.
If you think you have the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, see your GP.
Another Emmerdale star who’s opened up about their health is Charley Webb.