Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms of this disorder can include moderate to severe abdominal pain and diarrhea in many patients. Because there is no cure, ulcerative colitis can be a very disabling and possibly life-threatening disease. Along with medications and vitamins, however, many symptoms can be controlled by knowing the best and worst food for ulcerative colitis. Certain foods, such as dairy, high fiber foods, and fatty foods, may trigger ulcerative colitis in some patients, and special precautions should be taken to avoid these.
Some of the worst food for ulcerative colitis can be dairy products, especially if the patient is lactose intolerant. Limiting or cutting out dairy products, like milk and cheese, can help reduce abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea. Dairy products are a main source of calcium, though. Other foods that are high in calcium are certain types of fish and some ready-to-eat cereals. If these foods also worsen symptoms, taking a calcium supplement may be needed to get the right amount of calcium that is required for strong bones and teeth.
High-fiber food, such as raw vegetables and whole grains, may also be trigger food for ulcerative colitis patients. These foods can make symptoms worse, because they are harder to digest. Some experts recommend eating a high-fiber diet when ulcerative colitis in under control and limiting fiber intake during flare ups. Some patients find that cooking vegetables prior to eating them reduces symptoms associated with fiber.
Individuals dealing with ulcerative colitis may find that fatty, greasy, or fried items may not be the best food for ulcerative colitis. These can exacerbate the symptoms of this disease. Not being able to eat fatty foods, however, may lead to malabsorption. To avoid this, eliminating very fatty foods and eating easily absorbed fats instead may reduce symptoms. Certain types of fish are high in omega-3 fats, which are more easily absorbed into the body than other types of fats.
Along with paying attention to what is eaten, ulcerative colitis patients should also pay attention to what they drink. Caffeine and alcohol can stimulate the digestive tract and, in turn, make diarrhea worse. Other beverages, like fruit juices and carbonated drinks, can also make some symptoms worse. Consumption of these beverages should be reduced or even eliminated altogether. Staying hydrated is important, though, so drinking plenty of water is recommended.
Instead of eating three large meals per day, many patients find that it is better to eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Also, many patients can benefit from keeping a food and symptom diet. Everything that is eaten and drunk during the day can be written down, along with any symptoms that follow, if any. This way, patients can see, on paper, the best and worst food for ulcerative colitis and how they affect them.