Those who have ulcerative colitis often have a hard time deciding what to eat as their condition prevents them from enjoying certain types of food. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, along the lines of Crohn’s disease, that triggers different symptoms from cramping, diarrhea, bloody stools, and bloating just to name a few. The problem with this condition is that your diet will base on what cycle you are in.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
According to Dr. Jacob Skeans, ulcerative colitis is a type of autoimmune disease where the large intestine or colon is attacked causing ulcers and inflammation in the lining of your colon. Since this condition is an autoimmune disorder, this is caused by genetics as well as environmental factors, such as the food you eat. Keep in mind that the foods that you eat will not cause ulcerative colitis, but it can be a source of trigger for flare ups.
Foods Safe to Eat During Flare Ups
When your ulcerative colitis flares up, there are certain types of food that can help with the healing process. Here are a few that you should add to your diet if your condition acts up.
- Poultry and lean meat. You may not be able to extract the nutrients from the food that you are eating during flare up which can reduce their levels. One way to help stop you from losing muscle mass and weight is to get enough protein in your diet which is possible with the help of lean meat as well as poultry.
- Salmon. Salmon is known for its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can help counter the inflammation in your system when your ulcerative colitis is triggered. Aside from salmon, you can also choose walnuts, ground flaxseed, albacore tuna, as well as flaxseed oil for more omega-3 fatty acids.
- Have some squash. Another food that is good for ulcerative colitis is squash. This can be butternut, acorn, spaghetti, or zucchini even, because they are all high in fiber, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Fiber is known to help regulate the gut flora while antioxidants can help repair any damage caused by inflammation in your system. Avoid eating raw squash when you are experiencing flare ups especially when the fiber is making your symptoms worse.
- Avocadoes. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases in June of 2019, 1 out of 3 people who have ulcerative colitis show signs of malnutrition. In order to combat this issue, eating avocados is advised as it is a good source of monounsaturated fat which is good for the heart. For those who are losing weight because of their ulcerative colitis, eating avocados can help deliver plenty of fuel.
- Oatmeal for breakfast. What other foods can you eat when you have ulcerative colitis? Oatmeal is a good option for breakfast or snack even since it is easier to digest in your condition. Instant oatmeal works because it doesn’t have the same amount of fiber compared to steel-cut oats. Stick with instant oatmeal that is low in sugar or go for the plain one. This way, you will be able to add some cinnamon or fruit puree to it for added flavor.
Foods to Avoid in Ulcerative Colitis
Those who have ulcerative colitis may have intolerances as well as food sensitivities that they need to be aware of. Examples of these are lactose intolerance, or not being able to digest the sugars in dairy products, and celiac disease where gluten is not digested properly. Aside from these conditions, there are certain foods that may cause ulcerative colitis to flare up such as:
- Seeds, popcorn, and nuts. Small foods that are hard to digest, like nuts and seeds, can cause bloating, cramping, and even an increase in bowel urgency. If you have ulcerative colitis, stay away from fresh strawberries because their tiny seeds can worsen your condition.
- Beans. Eating beans when you have ulcerative colitis can cause gas to occur which can worsen when your digestive problem flares up. Although beans are high in fiber content, it will not be easy for an inflamed gut to handle.
- Fatty meat. Fatty meat is not recommended for those who have ulcerative colitis because the digestive system will have difficulties in digesting it.
- High-fat foods. Foods that are high in fat content are not recommended for those who have ulcerative colitis because they are not easy to digest with fats barely being absorbed by the body. This can make symptoms of ulcerative colitis worse. Avoid eating salad dressings, fried foods, coconuts, even those that have poppy seeds, since they are hard to digest.
- Raw vegetables. Raw vegetables contain high amounts of fiber making them more difficult to digest compared to the cooked ones.
- Alcohol, carbonated, and caffeinated drinks. Alcohol and caffeine can cause irritation in the lining of your intestines which can worsen your symptoms. Caffeine is a type of stimulant which can cause diarrhea. On the other hand, soda as well as other carbonated drinks can increase your risk of bloating and gas.
- Chocolate. Eating chocolate may satisfy your sweet tooth, but it does contain high levels of caffeine and sugar which are considered triggers for those who have ulcerative colitis.
Taking a few precautions when it comes to your diet can help keep the effects of ulcerative colitis at bay. Doing simple steps such as having smaller meals and drinking enough water can prevent ulcerative colitis from being triggered.