Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine or colon and rectum. It can cause pain, bloating, and diarrhoea during flare-ups and often few or no symptoms between episodes. Some people with ulcerative colitis suffer from poor appetite, fatigue and anaemia. Others suffer from joint pain, redness, swelling and liver problems.
Food affects many with ulcerative colitis, especially during flare-ups, but culprit foods can vary depending on one’s tolerance level. Different foods trigger inflammation in different people. Although food won’t cause or cure ulcerative colitis symptoms, it is certainly a tool one can use to try and manage and heal symptoms. For example some common trigger foods in ulcerative colitis include highly fibrous foods like nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables and popcorn. Eating these difficult-to-digest foods with an already-inflamed colon will aggravate symptoms. Other foods that may increase symptoms of ulcerative colitis include those that cause gas or bloating, these are fried or spicy foods, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, fruit sugar (fructose), garlic and onions. Pay attention to which foods trigger symptoms in you and find the culprit to avoid it in future.
Inflammation in the colon can make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients and water needed from food. This means vitamin and mineral deficiencies and dehydration are common problems. Following a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet is of utmost importance. Here are a few tips that should be included in one’s routine:
Drink plenty of water to ensure adequate hydration. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements can also help maintain optimal health when fighting a bout of ulcerative colitis. One should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of plain water every day.
Eating smaller meals more often, approximately every three to four hours can minimise abdominal discomfort from overeating.
If you think eating fibre rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains is worsening symptoms then avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables. Try steaming, baking or stewing them.
Spicy foods, alcohol, smoking and caffeine may make your signs and symptoms worse. So avoid them completely.
Reduce the amount of greasy, oily or fried foods in your diet
Stress can worsen signs and symptoms, and may trigger flare-ups. Even mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalise bowel function. One should perform relaxing breathing exercises and try yoga and meditation. A 30 to 45 minute brisk walk can reduce stress levels.
Probiotics from yogurt can aid recovery and help digestion. If you find you have trouble digesting dairy proteins then you may need to avoid yogurt.
Choose lean cuts of meat, chicken, egg white as protein options. Chewing food thoroughly will have a positive impact on one’s digestion as there will be less work for one’s digestive system. Include dairy products like organic milk, paneer, yoghurt, cheese, etc, only if you are tolerant to the same.
Eat healthy, stay healthy.
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