How Good Is Your Ulcerative Colitis Diet
If you have ulcerative colitis, you may not always be able to eat everything you want. But your diet shouldnt be strictly limited either. In fact, when youre in remission, you can probably eat most of the same foods as anyone else.
That said, some foods can trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms, particularly in people who are in the midst of a flare, according to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. Even seemingly healthy foods, such as raw vegetables, can bring on painful symptoms, such as diarrhea.
Theres a lot of misinformation out there about what you can eat with ulcerative colitis, says Stacy Cavagnaro, RD, a registered dietitian for the Inflammatory Bowel Disease medical home at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. It really depends on how severe a persons inflammation is, the location of the inflammation in the GI tract, and if theyre in a flare or not in a flare.
How much do you know about eating well with ulcerative colitis? Take this quiz to gauge how your food choices are affecting your symptoms and how ulcerative colitis-friendly your diet really is.
This assessment is part of a series aimed at helping you check in on your ulcerative colitis before your next checkup with your doctor. Take more assessments.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid
- Keeping a food journal can help you identify foods that trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms.
- Avoiding common trigger foods may help manage symptoms during UC flares.
- Knowing which foods are most nutritious for those with UC and how to safely prepare them can help you eat healthier.
- Working with a registered dietitian can help you get the most nutrients out of the foods you can safely eat.
Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition caused when the immune system attacks the tissues of the digestive tract, specifically the large intestine and rectum. Along with Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. IBD inflammation leads to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloating, and cramping, as well as problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
No specific foods cause ulcerative colitis, and there is no specific diet that has been proven to cure it. However, each person with UC finds that certain foods can trigger or worsen symptoms, while other foods can be digested safely and comfortably. The foods on each list vary by individual. As one MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam member put it, This disease is not one-size-fits-all, so you will have to experiment to see what works for you and what does not.
The list of foods to avoid and foods to eat with ulcerative colitis may also change depending on whether youre currently experiencing a disease flare or remission .
Foods To Fight Ulcerative Colitis
- Salmon The essential fatty acids in salmon will help counterbalance an inflammation flare-up.
- Cultured Yogurt Cultured yogurt contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria necessary for maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
- Squash The antioxidants Beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C in squash will help repair damage done by inflammation.
- Egg Whites Rich in B vitamins and a great source of protein, eggs whites are often well tolerated by people with ulcerative colitis and may help reduce inflammation.
- Honeydew Melon Honeydew melon will help soothe the lining of your colon.
- Avocados Studies have found that 85% of people with inflammatory bowel disease are malnourished. Avocados are a great source of calories, healthy fat, and protein. Theyre also easily digested by the body.
- Instant Oatmeal Instant oatmeal is more processed than steel cut oatmeal, making it easier to digest for people who have ulcerative colitis.
- Turkey For a healthy intake of protein, try turkey and other lean meats like skinless poultry and lean pork loin. The unsaturated fat in other meats may trigger a symptom flare-up.
You May Like: Side Effects Of Ulcerative Colitis
Recommended Reading: Medications Used For Ulcerative Colitis
Nutrition Tips For Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a term used for two specific and separate diseases: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Nutritional recommendations are different for each disease and for each individual patient. It is important to discuss the treatments that are right for you with a registered dietitian and with your doctor.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms And Causes
Ulcerative colitis is thought to develop when a person at genetic risk is exposed to certain environmental stressors.
These environmental stressors either change the ratio of gut bacteria or alter the way the immune system responds to bacteria .
As a result, the immune system attacks the intestinal lining causing inflammation and other symptoms, including:
Also Check: Artificial Sweeteners And Ulcerative Colitis
Recommended Reading: How Long Does An Ulcerative Colitis Flare Up Last
Study Design And Diet Supplements
The patients were randomized to either the active group adding 60 g of oat bran corresponding to an intake of 12 g dietary fiber to the daily diet, or the control group adding low-fiber wheat products for 24 weeks, while ongoing drug treatment was unchanged. This means that the patients from the oat group increased their daily dietary fiber intake considerably compared with the average dietary fiber intake for adults in Sweden according to the National Food Agency. Both sets of diet supplements comprised a selection of biscuits, porridge, or breakfast cereals that were handed out blinded by study nurses, notifying diet compliance and clinical events during the trial including, for example, start on antibiotics. The intake of dietary fiber at baseline was also assessed by the study nurse and to be within reported national data. All patients were instructed to undergo sigmoidoscopy within 3 working days at signs of relapse., Endpoint was set at week 24 or confirmed clinical and endoscopic relapse, which was the primary outcome of the study.
Uc And Lactose Intolerance
People with UC often think they have lactose intolerance, which means they can’t properly digest the sugar in milk and milk products, because some symptoms are similar. But UC doesnt make you more likely to have lactose intolerance. Your doctor can do a simple test to find out.
If you can, keep milk and dairy products in your diet. They are a very good source of calcium and vitamin D, which keep your bones healthy. Using steroids such as prednisone for a long time can thin your bones and make it harder for your body to absorb calcium, raising your chance of having osteoporosis.
If dairy products cause you discomfort, see if you can eat them in small amounts. Or try a lactase supplement to break down the lactose in dairy products.
If you just can’t stomach dairy products, your doctor may want you to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Watch a video on how dairy affects ulcerative colitis.
Read Also: Black Tarry Stools Ulcerative Colitis
Spices Like Ginger And Turmeric Can Fight Nausea And Joint Pain
Spices such as ginger and turmeric may help fight the nausea and inflammation associated with digestive disorders such as UC, says Kennedy, noting that more research is needed to determine both the amount and best form of delivery for these benefits. As a rule of thumb, stay away from supplements. Concentrated ginger supplements could cause heartburn, diarrhea, or gas. Instead, try incorporating ginger and tumeric into soups or stir-fries. As with all diet changes, its a good idea to check with your doctor before adding ginger and tumeric to your diet.
My Health Journey With Ulcerative Colitis
I feel like it is long overdue for me to share my health story on here! I have spent a long time trying to not talk about this disease, to downplay symptoms, and to pretend like it doesnt exist. But it is a part of me and always will be, so I am trying my best to be more open, more vulnerable, and more real. So let me tell you about my journey with ulcerative colitis.
I was first diagnosed with ulcerative proctitis, which is a pretty mild form of inflammatory bowel disease , in 2013. To be honest, once I started taking medication, I would completely forget I had it most days. I carried out life just as usual, eating whatever I wanted and going out all the time. Then things started to get a little more serious and I wasnt feeling so great. I got re-tested in 2017 and found out that things had progressed a lot, and I was then diagnosed with ulcerative colitis . UC and Crohns disease are the two diseases that make up IBD. Both UC and Crohns disease are autoimmune diseases UC affects just the colon , while Crohns can affect any part of the GI tract.
Its truly mind-blowing how prevalent autoimmune diseases are becoming especially in women. I can count four other people in my groups of friends that have autoimmune diseases most of them affecting the gut. I have become a tad obsessed with learning about autoimmunity and especially the role the gut microbiome plays in it, so you can expect more posts on these topics.
Read Also: How Do I Know If I Have A Peptic Ulcer
What Foods Should I Eat When My Ulcerative Colitis Is In Remission
You should try and maintain a diverse and nutrient-rich diet even when you are in remission and your symptoms have reduced or gone away completely. Keep a food diary and introduce new foods slowly, so you understand which ones trigger your symptoms. Keep well hydrated with water, broth, tomato juice, or rehydration solutions, and avoid making large changes in your diet without your doctors advice. Eat foods such as:
- Fiber-rich foods such as oat bran, beans, barley, nuts, and whole grains, unless your doctor has advised you to stick with a low fiber diet or you have an ostomy or intestinal narrowing
- Lean protein, which is found in fish, lean cuts of pork, chicken, soy, eggs, and firm tofu
- Fruits and vegetables of all colors remove the peel and the seeds if they trigger your symptoms
- Calcium-rich foods found in collard greens, yogurt, kefir, and milk
- Probiotic foods such as yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, or tempeh.
Fermented Foods Can Help Balance Gut Bacteria
Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut contain active probiotics, considered good bacteria, which can be helpful for some people with digestive problems, according to the Brigham and Womens Health Crohns and Colitis Center. Probiotic foods add good bacteria to the digestive tract, which can improve the health of the whole body, says Kelly Kennedy, RDN, staff nutritionist with Everyday Health.
According to Frontiers of Microbiology, live probiotics in the gut can help regulate the immune system, too. Since UC is an autoimmune disease, people living with the condition may benefit from extra immune support.
Fermented foods are great by themselves kombucha tea, for example or as a garnish to any healthy dish, like kimchi over rice.
Read Also: What Causes Ulcers On The Feet
It Can Be Challenging To Differentiate Between Crohn’s And Uc
Our summary of the two conditions is below. You can also read a more detailed explanation about the differences between Colitis and Crohn’s Disease here.
Our summary of the two conditions is below. You can also read a more detailed explanation about the differences between Colitis and Crohn’s Disease here.
What To Eat In Remission Of Symptoms
If you have eliminated some foods, it is important to reflect upon which ones have aggravated your symptoms and which have not. Could it be time to re-introduce the safe foods back into your diet? Here are some tips on how stay healthy and hydrated:
- Fibre- rich foods: oat bran, beans, barley, nuts and whole grains are rich in fibre. Nuts and wholegrains will be foods to avoid if you had recent bowel surgery such as an ileostomy, intestinal narrowing, stricture or if your doctor/nurse has advised you take a low residue diet.
- Protein: Meats fish, eggs, nuts and tofu.
- Calcium rich foods: Milk ,
- Fruits and vegetables: peel away the skins and seeds. Unsweetened apple sauce is very bland and maybe tolerated after a flare up.
- Foods with probiotics are good because they can aid digestion, so having yogurts and milk drinks will work well.
Remember that you can always speak to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.
Read Also: How To Heal Mouth Ulcers Fast
Herbal Remedies And Supplements
There are lots of supplements that claim to treat Crohns and Colitis. But there isnt enough evidence to recommend any herbal remedies or supplements. This is because its difficult to know whether the supplement is directly affecting a persons Crohns or Colitis or whether something else is causing a change in symptoms. Also, everyone is different so what helps one person may not help another.Some people find that some herbal remedies, such as aloe vera or curcumin , help them manage their symptoms when they use them together with their prescribed medicines. There have been reports of cannabidiol , an ingredient in cannabis, helping with symptoms like diarrhoea, pain and loss of appetite. But we dont know enough about how it works or how much is a safe amount to take. It isnt currently recommended and isnt available on prescription for people with Crohns or Colitis.There have been claims in the media about the benefits of kefir a fermented milk drink that contains probiotics. But there isnt any medical evidence to show that it helps people with Crohns or Colitis.If you want to take herbal remedies, its important to speak to your IBD team or dietitian first. Dont stop taking your prescribed medicine without talking to your IBD team, even if your symptoms improve.
I think it is so important to remember that the relationship with food and IBD is so different for everyone!
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown but it is believed to be caused by a combination of several factors including an overactive immune system, genetics, and the environment.
- Overactive immune system: It is believed that in ulcerative colitis, the immune system is triggered to mistakenly attack the inner lining of the large intestine, causing inflammation and symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
- Genetics: Ulcerative colitiscan run in families. The genetic link is not entirely clear but studies show that up to 20% of people with ulcerative colitis have a close family member with the disease.
- Environment: Certain environmental factors including taking certain medications , and eating a high fat diet may slightly increase the risk of developing ulcerative colitis.
Physical or emotional stress, and certain foods do not cause ulcerative colitis, however, they may trigger symptoms in a person who has ulcerative colitis.
You May Like: Service Dog For Ulcerative Colitis
Common Supplements Recommended For Ibd Patients
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take vitamin or mineral supplements, especially if you are experiencing nutritional deficiencies. We can help you learn about supplements that are commonly recommended for IBD patients.
This information can help you learn which vitamins and minerals are important to maintain your nutrition, along with the various foods you may want to try as part of your IBD-friendly diet.
Your body is unique. What works for one patient, will not work for everyone. Check with your healthcare providers before starting any supplements, as you will need proper dosing.
What Is An Ulcerative Colitis Diet
A person with ulcerative colitis may find they need to modify their diet to help manage their symptoms. There is not a single diet or meal plan that fits everyone with ulcerative colitis, and diets are individualized for each patient. Depending on symptoms different types of diets may be recommended, such as:
- A high-calorie diet: Many people with ulcerative colitis lose weight and can develop signs of malnutrition. A high calorie diet may prevent these problems.
- A lactose-free diet: People with ulcerative colitis may also have lactose intolerance.
- A low-fat diet: Ulcerative colitis may interfere with fat absorption and eating fatty foods may trigger symptoms. This is often recommended during an ulcerative colitis flare.
- A low-fiber diet : This can help reduce the frequency of bowel movements and abdominal cramps.
- A low-salt diet: This diet is used when patients are on corticosteroid therapy to help reduce water retention.
- A low FODMAP diet: FODMAPstands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccha-rides and Polyols, which are types of sugars found in certain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. This diet is used in people who have intolerance to FODMAPS.
- A gluten-free diet: People with ulcerative colitis may also be sensitive to gluten.
You May Like: I Think I Have Ulcerative Colitis
Energy And General Health
If youre following a restricted or relatively bland diet to help cope with a flare of ulcerative colitis symptoms, or youre on a liquid-only diet as your body heals from surgery, you may be getting fewer calories and nutrition. As a result, you might not have as much energy as you typically do.
Its important that you try your best to eat enough each day to meet your bodys nutrition and energy needs. Not only to help manage ulcerative colitis but to maintain your overall health.
Complications from IBD, such as infections, may be more likely if your body is weakened from malnourishment, vitamin deficiencies, and dehydration.
Preventing nutritional deficiencies may help prevent flares: In 2017, research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center indicated that people with ulcerative colitis who are in remission may be more likely to experience a relapse of symptoms if they are deficient in vitamin D.