Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease closely related to Crohn’s disease. Not to be confused with Irritable bowel syndrome, which is a temporary condition usually resulting from poor diet, inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are permanent and without cure. There are, however, meal plans and foods that affect Ulcerative Colitis which should be eaten or avoided which can greatly reduce or intensify symptoms.
The major symptoms of ulcerative colitis are excessive gas, diarrhea and abdominal pain. As the name suggests, the ulcerative nature of the disease means that there is normally bleeding into the intestines which is found in the stool. Because ulcerative colitis most often occurs in the lower small intestines or the upper large intestines, the blood is bright red (undigested).
When discussing foods and meal plans with your gastroenterologist and their affect on Ulcerative colitis, one thing to understand is the uniqueness of each person’s situation and the extreme effect that has on their tolerance for food. While below are general guidelines, it is important that whenever you change your diet, you document changes in your symptoms in order to find a correlation between diet and symptoms. In many cases, ulcerative colitis can cause a narrowing in the intestines, which will react much differently to certain foods that another person who’s colitis does not involve this narrowing.
One of the most important things sufferers of this disease should understand is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber. In people without this condition, both types of fiber are good and provide healthy benefits. However, in people with ulcerative colitis, insoluble fiber is very likely to cause problems. In simple terms, the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber is that insoluble fiber maintains it’s normal form as it passes completely through the intestinal tract.
However, soluble fiber, which also passes completely through the intestinal tact, forms into a gel-like substance when it enters the small intestines. The roughness of insoluble fiber often leads to irritation of the intestines in people with ulcerative colitis and can cause a flare up. Soluble fiber on the other hand is much smoother and gentler on the intestines and actually can aid in the prevention of a flare up. Insoluble fiber is found in the skins and outer layers of many fruits and vegetables such as corn, apples as well as wheat. Soluble fiber is found in the ‘meaty’ portions of fruits and vegetables as well as foods such as oatmeal.
The other important type of food to consider when discussing any intestinal disease like ulcerative colitis is dairy products. One important aspect of dairy products with ulcerative colitis is what it is eaten with. In many cases, dairy products when eaten as part of a large meal have no associated impact on symptoms. However, drinking a large glass of milk between meals can cause a rapid flare up. The reaction to dairy products is usually consistent within an individual, so if the glass of milk gives you a flare up one time, it is likely too in the future also. Dairy products are definitely one class of food where you have to pay attention to your diet and associate it with symptoms that occur later.
Finally, as with most intestinal diseases, there are unhealthy foods that should just be avoided . Foods and meals high in fat should be avoided, as well as meals that contained excessive amounts of processed foods. In almost all cases, high fat foods greatly increase the symptoms of any intestinal disease or disorder and ulceritive colitis is no exception.
There is also recent evidence that reveals that oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines can greatly reduce symptoms. These types of fish contain essential oils that are very good for overall health, so adding them to your meal plans is a healthy choice even if the benefits with ulcerative colitis are negligible.
Ulcerative colitis is an irritable bowel disease closely related to Crohn’s disease. Major symptoms include bloody stool, diarrhea and abdominal pain. There are many foods and meals that can affect the symptoms of the disease, but in most cases there are very distinct to the individual. Insoluble fiber can cause irritation to the colon, while foods that contain soluble fiber and certain fatty acids can actually sooth the inflammation.
Dairy products should be avoided in large doses except as part of a meal which contains non-dairy foods. Finally, the most important part of controlling this disease with meals is to record meals and symptoms and find out how they are linked in your own situation.