Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the bowels, especially the colon, which is part of the large intestine. An ulcerative colitis diet is the avoidance of foods and drinks that aggravate inflammation of the bowels. It also is the inclusion of foods and drinks rich in nutrients, because people who suffer from any disorder of the colon tend not to fully absorb nutrients from food. There is no standard ulcerative colitis diet, because the foods and drinks that cause irritation in one person might not bother another.
Disorders of the large intestine also include Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. These conditions produce symptoms that are similar to ulcerative colitis. Following some general diet guidelines has proved to be effective in controlling this condition in almost all cases.
Symptoms of this disease include pain in the abdominal region and joints, loss of appetite, diarrhea and anemia. If any of these symptoms are experienced, a medical professional should be consulted, because these symptoms also can indicate other health problems. Once a diagnosis has been made, one of the most important steps to take is to begin documenting the foods and drinks that provoke flare-ups, so they can be avoided. Although each person will end up with a customized ulcerative colitis diet, there are some foods and beverages that tend to aggravate the vast majority sufferers. There are also foods and drinks that tend to be soothing in almost all cases.
People who develop diarrhea as a symptom are advised to be particularly attentive to drinking plenty of fluids, because of the loss of water during such bouts. If this advice is not heeded, they could become dehydrated, and their kidneys could fail to function properly, risking the development of kidney stones. During spells of diarrhea, especially if they occur frequently, the loss of vital electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals could occur. Despite the need to intake adequate amounts of liquids, they should be beverages that soothe rather than irritate the bowel.
Drinks that tend to aggravate are the ones that contain caffeine, are carbonated or are sweetened with artificial or refined sugar. They should be excluded from an ulcerative colitis diet. All-natural herbal tea, fresh water and milk usually are the best choices. People diagnosed with this disorder should beware of the different forms of milk they can drink. The best kinds are low-fat cow milk that is ultra pasteurized but not homogenized and milk that is not from cows that have been raised on antibiotics and growth hormones.
In the case of lactose intolerance, the pharmacist can be consulted regarding lactase pills. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and that causes milk to taste sweet. Specific herbal teas that might be beneficial in an ulcerative colitis diet include chickweed and dandelion. Chickweed has been employed for many years as an effective natural remedy for external and internal inflammation. Dandelion root is highly nutritious, delivering organic plant iron, vitamin E and easily assimilable trace minerals.
Anemia might also be prevented by drinking chickweed tea or dandelion root because of their iron content. Blood loss can occur during bouts of ulcerations and inflammation, leading to the development of anemia. Generally, an ulcerative colitis diet should be based on consuming enough protein, lightly cooked vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lightly cooked fruits and whole grains, particularly heirloom grains such as spelt. Some people have also noticed that eating small meals more frequently is better than eating larger meals three times daily.