One of the principle concerns for someone when they are diagnosed with the disease is finding the answers to the question of what is an effective diet for colitis. The role of diet and how it affects the patient during times of both remission and relapse will impact greatly on their quality of life. An understanding of a few simple basics can assist greatly.
There is a common confusion, particularly amongst those who are newly diagnosed, in the appreciation and understanding of the role of diet and the painful consequences of consuming foods containing incorrect fibre. To start with, there must be an awareness that there are actually two distinct types of fibre found in foods. The first is what is known as soluble fibre, which on the whole, is acceptable for consumption for those with colitis whilst the other is insoluble fibre which will have consequences for the patient if foods containing such are eaten.
So what is the difference between the two? Put simply, soluble fibre is broken down and digested in the large colon and insoluble fibre is not. Foods containing soluble fibre produce soft stools and avoid the problem of the production of the type of particles that stick to the wall of the colon and can cause inflammation. The opposite occurs when foods containing insoluble fibre are eaten as they are passed without being digested and thus raise the prospect of adhering to the wall of the colon when inflamed. This will result in irritation and can aggravate the colitis symptoms.
Foods that contain soluble fibre include fruits and vegetables that have been peeled such as apples and potatoes plus oats such as porridge and white rice. Insoluble fibre foods include wheat bran and wholemeal bread plus vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli and fruits and vegetables with their skin left on.
It is also important to recognise that eating fish plays an important part of an effective diet for colitis because fish oils help reduce inflammation and are beneficial for the health of the bowel. The eating of dairy products should be controlled and reduced as they can make a contribution to inflammation. Whilst they should not be eliminated entirely, the amount taken should be small.
It is especially important to know what an effective diet for colitis is during a relapse. It really is not the time to try to maintain and ensure a healthy balanced diet is adhered to. The number one priority is to ensure that the inflammation is not being antagonised by fibres and too much volume. A very restrictive diet is required to stave off hunger but not one that produces avoidable amounts of waste that have to pass through the inflamed colon, bringing pain and discomfort to the sufferer. It is difficult to get the balance correct, but through trial and error and using other sufferer's experiences, an effective diet for colitis, to use in both times of remission and relapse, is possible to attain.