Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine. Only the colon is affected. It is a condition that flares up unpredictably, but patients also experience extended periods of remission. With adequate diet and a focus on minimal stress, the disease can be controlled and managed.
One of the most important aspects to remember about Ulcerative Colitis, is that diet doesn't cause the condition; it is merely a way of making life more comfortable for sufferers. A well-balanced and nutritious diet is very beneficial. Taking supplements can also help to adjust the nutrient intake and prevent the malnutrition that is commonly seen as a result from Ulcerative Colitis.
A healthy diet
As much as anyone else in the population, patients of this disease should aim to follow a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, some dairy, grains and meats. Every person needs calcium for bone and teeth strength, protein for growth and tissue repair, iron for energy and fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamins and minerals. In Ulcerative Colitis, certain foods can create problems for sufferers.
What might be called an 'Ulcerative Colitis diet' is one that aims not to irritate the colon. The first course of action is to become familiar with the kinds of foods that exacerbate symptoms, and eliminate them as much as possible, if not entirely. Although UC patients do not generally demonstrate intolerances to food, they do report that particular foods intensify their symptoms.
Here is a list of typical foods to eliminate from an Ulcerative Colitis diet:
o Milk products.
o Saturated fats as found in animal products and dairy foods.
o Inflammatory foods such as alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars.
o Intestinal irritants like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and broccoli.
o Corn products.
o Foods containing gluten, which include foods produced from wheat, barley, triticale and oats.
o The usual allergenic suspects such as eggs, peanuts and soy.
o High-sugar fruits like watermelon, pineapple and grapes.
Patients who aim to follow an Ulcerative Colitis diet will benefit in general and not just in a reduction of symptoms and lesser frequency of flare-ups. The foods recommended are good, healthy foods that the general population should be enjoying.
Drink plenty of fluids
Water is the most obvious choice for fluid intake and is essential in calming an inflamed colon. Vegetable juices can help to provide minerals that may be lacking.
Ulcerative Colitis diet or not, protein is vital for growth and cell repair. Whether it comes from lean meats, dried beans, legumes or soy, protein is a must-have.
It's recommended that in an Ulcerative Colitis diet, half of the patient's calories should come from complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, oat bran, fruits and vegetables. Extra sweet fruits should be avoided but berries, oranges, apples, grapefruits and plums are actually considered protective to the colon. Complex carb foods provide an excellent source of vital fiber, which is thought to reduce damage to the intestinal tract that comes with UC.
Oily fish, flaxseed and canola oils contain an abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids which help protect against inflammation.
An Ulcerative Colitis diet should include plenty of potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocadoes, oranges, cantaloupes, pears, dried peas and beans, potatoes and nuts. Potassium is an intestine protector and is also thought to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
One of the most important things to include in an Ulcerative Colitis diet is water. Patients must drink plenty of water, aim to eat small meals and choose foods that will prevent inflammation of the colon.