Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes an imbalance of the colon mucosa and colonic function. In proctitis, which accounts for about 50% of ulcerative colitis, the affected area is only the rectum. In left-sided colitis (30% of cases), the inflammation extends to the part of the intestine. In 20% of cases, the entire intestine is affected, which is called pancolitis. In this post we will look at the 5 best diets for ulcerative colitis
UC is a lifelong disability for which there is no cure, and the cause of the disease is unknown. The life expectancy of patients with UC is not reduced because of the disease, although the quality of life is strongly affected. Inflammation can occur over time, which means there are flare-ups and breakouts. As for the recovery period, it can last for weeks or even years, when the patient is completely relaxed and does not feel any pain.
Finding the right diet for ulcerative colitis is a challenge. Often, it is better to start with an elimination diet, which means that the patient eats only a small variety of foods and slowly adds more types of food to the diet. The elimination process begins by reducing or completely giving up certain types of food that make symptoms worse. Diet does not cure or alter the outcome of the disease; it only helps to manage the problem and relieve the symptoms. In this way, the quality of life of the patients can be improved and they can be in a better state of health. It is important to note that one type of diet may work for one patient while it may not work for another. Therefore, choosing the right food will always be a process of trial and error.
5 Best Diets for Ulcerative Colitis
- Low Fibre diet
Low-fibre foods are recommended because they are easier to digest. They are able to move slowly; therefore, diarrhoea is limited to a certain extent. Generally, any food with less than 0.5g fibre per serving is acceptable. Foods in this category include cooked vegetables, refined grains and cereals, milk, cottage cheese, bananas, apricot, melon, cantaloupe, bacon, and eggs. When you’re on a low fibre diet, you should avoid nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and corn. Foods that are fatty, spicy, and sugary should also be avoided.
- Specific carbohydrate diet
This diet changes the faecal microbiome from a pro-inflammatory to a non-inflammatory state by eliminating foods that contain complex carbohydrates. This diet excludes most starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, corn, gluten, and rice) and food additives and preservatives while offering some fruits and vegetables, nuts, homemade fermented yogurt, meat, eggs, butter, and oil. Foods allowed in SCD Lean meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, green beans, peas, lentils, nuts. Food is not allowed in SCD
Sugar, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, sucrose, refined fructose including high fructose corn syrup or any refined sugar.
All grains include corn, wheat, wheat, barley, corn, rice, bread and baked products, canned vegetables and added ingredients, starchy legumes such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips, canned and processed meats
- A low FODMAP diet
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. The FODMAP diet is based on the idea that carbohydrates and sugars that are not completely absorbed can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, which causes inflammation. Therefore, the bacteria food source must be changed, which indicates that the patient’s diet should be low in oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols as nutrients which serve as nutrient source for the bacteria. A low FODMAP diet may not reduce inflammation, but it can reduce bloating and gas and reduce discomfort.
A nutritionist can help determine what sugars can be eaten in this diet and what to avoid. In general, people who choose this diet can eat a lot of bananas, celery, corn, carrots, cucumber eggplant, lettuce, rice, oatmeal, hard cheese, honey, dairy products, tomatoes, chicken, pork, lean meats, and fish. Patients on this diet should avoid apples, cherries, pears, Brussels sprouts, wheat, rye, sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, yoghurt, garlic, cauliflower, asparagus.
- The Mediterranean Diet
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are at the centre of the Mediterranean diet, compared to many other diets. Following a Mediterranean diet includes eating plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coconut, beans, and whole grains, as well as eating a moderate amount of fish, poultry, and eggs. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces flare ups and helps you stay in remission longer.
- The paleo diets
The paleo diet assumes that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat the same foods as our pre-farming hunter-gatherer ancestors. Foods like meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts fall under this category. The paleo diet limits the amount of grains, dairy products, refined sugars, and starches you eat. It recommends increasing the amount of “good fats” in your diet, including omega-3 fatty acids. The paleo diet excludes the following foods; whole grains, milk and milk products, refined sugars and oils, legumes, and salt.
Nutritional Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis
Vitamin D: calcium and vitamin D are the main vitamin and mineral deficiencies in patients with ulcerative colitis. This is because the intestine and colon do not absorb food as they do in a healthy person. In addition, many medications commonly prescribed to treat colitis, such as prednisone, can also inhibit calcium and vitamin D absorption when used long-term. Additionally, the loss of calcium and vitamin D will decrease your bone density and put you at risk for osteoporosis.
Omega 3: Researchers have found that the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) helps fight inflammation by blocking certain chemicals in the body called leukotrienes. They may also help people with ulcerative colitis go into remission.
Folic acid: Folate also plays a vital role in the body’s ability to create new cells in people with ulcerative colitis, especially when it comes to DNA replication and repair. A lack of folate can cause anaemia, immune dysfunction, and digestion problems. Folic acid can also help lower the risk of colon cancer
Iron: In UC, bleeding from sores in the colon might cause you to lose iron. A condition called anaemia can cause fatigue, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeats, if you do not have enough iron.
Magnesium: is involved in preventing bone loss as a deficiency is a common problem for people with UC as most of the mineral is involved in the ileum (the largest part of the small intestine), which is often affected by the disease. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, discomfort or tingling, and mood changes.
Potassium: Lack of potassium occurs in UC because the gut is the last place potassium is absorbed into the body. Symptoms of this deficiency can include muscle cramps, frequent heart palpitations, or feeling dizzy and tired. A diet high in potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, cooked vegetables, and potatoes, is often enough to correct a potassium deficiency. Getting too much potassium from over-the-counter supplements can increase the risk of heart problems.
Probiotics: Probiotics are bacteria that nourish your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight disease. Probiotics work by acting as a barrier; they line the intestines and prevent bacteria that stimulate the immune response. They also increase the production of mucus, which protects the body from invading bacteria. This helps to reduce or prevent inflammation.
Keep your meals small
Consuming five to six light meals throughout the day can help alleviate cramping associated with ulcerative colitis. With smaller amounts of food, the digestive system is able to process nutrients more easily, and you will be able to absorb more nutrients. By consuming smaller amounts of food, pain is reduced while the body receives a steady supply of vitamins and minerals.
Drink lots of water
It is common for people with ulcers to become dehydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water every day to protect yourself from dehydration. It is also important to avoid fluids that cause dehydration, such as alcohol and caffeine. Soft drinks and meal replacement drinks also reduce the risk of dehydration because they provide plenty of fluids. They can also be a great way to eat when you can’t handle solids.
Write down what you eat
It’s useful to keep a journal when trying new foods. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the most suitable diet for ulcerative colitis patients. Keeping a food diary can help doctors and dietitians decide which foods are best for a patient and list which foods to avoid, as they can trigger inflammation and cause heartburn.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can make some people lose their appetite and eat less, and they may not get enough food. In children, malnutrition can contribute to growth and development problems. Depending on your symptoms and the medications you are taking, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet. Certain foods and drinks can cause the bowels to become inflamed and should be avoided; foods that are high in fibre, high in sulphur/sulphate, spicy foods, refined sugars, dried fruits, and nuts. If you have ulcerative colitis, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet. I hope this guide (5 Best Diets for Ulcerative Colitis) helps you find the right diet to manage your ulcerative colitis.