Published: 08/15/2015 - Updated: 03/20/2017
If you suffer from ulcerative colitis, it is very important that you understand which foods could aggravate your problem, and therefore try to avoid them. This is a great start.
There are also foods that could be useful in reducing your symptoms.
What is ulcerative colitis?
This is a chronic disease affecting the large intestine, colon and rectum. It creates inflammation in the colon and rectum walls, which appear red, inflamed, and develop ulcers.
Symptoms include abdominal cramps, abdominal pain and diarrhea, which at times, could cause bloody stools.
Some people that suffer from ulcerative colitis also experience a lack of appetite, tiredness and anemia.
Recent studies suggest that this is actually a type of autoimmune disease, which means that the body attacks its own organs. Currently there is no definitive cure, however individuals can experience incredibly prolonged periods of remission (lack of symptoms).
We also know that stress, along with certain foods, could make the symptoms worse. That’s why knowing what these foods are will help you to fight your symptoms and avoid outbreaks.
Whenever suffering from some type of gastrointestinal disease, you need to keep an eye on the nutrients you are consuming. These types of diseases could lead to deficiencies caused by malabsorption. You also run the risk of becoming dehydrated, and therefore experiencing an electrolyte imbalance. This could create lots of different symptoms, like fatigue and weakness.
If you have ulcerative colitis you should eat a balanced diet, which includes food sources that provide complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, as well as high quality proteins.
Foods you should Avoid when Experiencing Inflammation
If possible, you must avoid certain foods that provoke colitis symptoms. An appropriate diet can help to control these symptoms.
Fiber: Fiber is a part of plants that the body does not digest. It is founds in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. While fiber is good for most people, it could cause indigestion for people that suffer from colitis. That’s why we recommend limiting your fiber consumption when you are experiencing active symptoms. This means that you should avoid foods like legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), avoid brans, seeds, almonds, walnuts, and popcorn.
Fruits and vegetables: Whenever experiencing active symptoms, you need to avoid consuming raw fruits and vegetables. With regards to fruit, ripe bananas and melons are allowable. Regarding vegetables, you should cook them well and remove the seeds. You can always eat cooked potatoes as long as you remove the skins.
Avoid foods that are rich in fat: Fats are difficult to digest and cause gas and diarrhea. That’s why we recommend cooking your foods with very little fat, avoid drying them and try to choose plant-based oils.
Say no to seasoned foods: Avoid spicy or heavily seasoned foods. You should also remember that chocolate and artificial flavors could make your symptoms worse.
Proteins: Proteins make up an essential part of our diets, but you must choose proteins that contain the least amount of fat, like white meat, chicken (skinless), fish and eggs. You could also opt for plant proteins, like soy (not other legumes because they are difficult to digest), or natural roasted peanuts (in moderation).
Do not forget your liquids
Dehydration is quite common when going through a colitis outbreak, which is why we recommend consuming enough liquids each day. Some beverages are highly recommended, while it’s best to avoid others.
Fresh water: It’s best to consume 6 to 8 gasses of fresh water a day, depends on fluid losses.
Juices: We only recommend natural juices that have no added sugar. Sugar is not easily tolerated when the intestines are inflamed. Vegetable and fruit juices can be consumed, but try not to base all of your liquid consumption solely on juices; alternate with fresh water.
Milk: It is not a good idea to consume dairy products, especially if you are lactose intolerant.
Caffeinated beverages: Avoid consuming caffeine in anything. This substance stimulates intestinal activity, which, when considering colitis, is a bad thing.
Sodas: Avoid consuming carbonated beverages that contain sugar or caffeine.
Alcohol: These types of drinks should generally be avoided.
Recommendable foods and supplements
These don’t necessarily fight the symptoms, but there are certain foods that are good to include in your diet if you suffer from colitis, as they combat deficiencies that could arise due to the disease.
Probiotics: These foods provide beneficial bacteria that contribute to colon health. Dairy products, like yogurt and cheeses, are probiotics. If you are lactose intolerant, however, and you just can’t tolerate these products, it’s best to avoid them. There are some probiotic supplements that you can purchase in pharmacies, and generally people don’t have any problems taking them. Consult your physician.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These are fatty acids that, according to studies, can help reduce inflammation. They also improve colitis symptoms. These acids are generally found in cold water fish.
Folic acid: A lot of people that suffer from colitis experience low levels of folic acid, which is why we recommend supplements.
Vitamin D and calcium: Individuals with colitis frequently have low levels of vitamin D and Calcium, which is why we recommend supplementing it.
Keep in mind...
It is important that you learn to identify which foods you cannot tolerate, or which ones aggravate your colitis symptoms. If you identify a food as such, try to avoid eating it.