So you have recently been diagnosed with Colitis?
Day in and day out, attempting to get relief from intestinal inflammation is a cause of aggravation, and it can be incredibly stressful to deal with the uncertainty of each meal and the pain of a flare-up.
Who wants to second guess everything they put on their plate and wonder if it will be the next thing that hurls them into a painful episode of a colitis flare-up?
Colitis is one of many IBS discomforts that are silently suffered by many.
We are here to tell you that you are not alone and do not have to play Russian roulette with your diet anymore.
At OnPoint Nutrition, we have helped over 3,000 clients who have put their health first, and hundreds of them, just like you, have grappled with chronic IBS, specifically ulcerative Colitis.
Our mission is to bring awareness to the nuance of nutrition as a whole.
By the end of this article, you will have your lingering questions about ulcerative Colitis answered and feel motivated to get started on your journey to better health and management of your disease.
Let's take a look.
1. What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis is a common disease that affects the digestive tract by causing inflammation and sores in the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
As you can probably guess, Ulcerative Colitis is a debilitating disease whose primary symptom is severe abdominal pain that can escalate to a life-threatening emergency.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ulcerative Colitis symptoms can change depending on the extent of the inflammation and its location.
Though the root cause is unknown, symptoms often develop over time rather than immediately.
2. Is Ulcerative Colitis an Autoimmune Condition?
The short answer is yes, but it's most important to understand what that means for your treatment plan. We are frequently asked whether Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune condition.
With Ulcerative Colitis, the body recognizes harmless gut bacteria as an enemy and attacks the tissues in the colon.
In a typical immune response, the body will send white blood cells to the area of illness or infection to help protect the body. After the body has combated the sickness or disease, the inflammation will resolve.
However, in a colon affected by UC, the body sends white blood cells (specifically called T cells) to the inner layer of the large intestine, which accumulate and continue to attack.
This process causes a buildup of inflammation and can lead to sores, or ulcers, in the affected area.
3. How Many Types Of Ulcerative Colitis Are there?
While the range of individuals that Ulcerative Colitis affects is extensive, the disease itself only presents in a few forms.
There are four types of Ulcerative Colitis:
- Ulcerative proctitis
- Left-sided Colitis
Often the symptoms of these variations are the same so the diagnosis will depend on a physician's expertise and medical examination.
4. What Are the Warning Signs of Ulcerative Colitis?
It's no joy to deal with the exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach pain that can come with Ulcerative Colitis.
There are a wide variety of symptoms and you may be wondering what some of those look like in a well-defined case of this condition.
Some warning signs and symptoms of ulcerative Colitis include:
- Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
- Rectal bleeding — passing a small amount of blood with stool
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Rectal pain
- Urgency to defecate
- Inability to defecate despite urgency
- Weight loss
- In children, failure to grow (height and weight)
Many of these symptoms are interconnected, such as the frequent diarrhea will obviously create the urge to defecate and may cause pain in the rectum.
Weight loss and failure to thrive (in children) who experience Ulcerative Colitis is due to the nutrient deficiencies. These stem from the ulcers blocking proper absorption of nutrients during digestion and the improper, expedited digestion due to the inflammation.
Therefore, someone experiencing Ulcerative Colitis who does not take control of their condition will experience most of these symptoms especially during a flare up.
5. How Can I Alleviate My Ulcerative Colitis?
If you have Ulcerative Colitis, minor changes to what you eat can make a BIG difference in your symptoms.
Consider keeping food logs and adjusting foods that trigger your symptoms.
You can also work with your doctor or dietitian to work through an elimination diet.
Generally, it would help if you tried to:
- Take your time when you eat. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation recommends eating 4-6 smaller meals daily. Eating slowly also prevents you from ingesting too much air and becoming gassy.
- Stay hydrated. Aim for 64 oz of water each today. Your urine should be a light yellow to clear color.
- Relax! Exercise and relaxation techniques alleviate your Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.
- Use simple cooking techniques. We recommend baking, grilling, or steaming to preserve most food's nutrient content.
6. What Foods Should You Eat With Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis presents a higher risk of malnutrition in individuals with this chronic condition.
The name of the game when creating a diet for Ulcerative Colitis is eating an abundance of nutrient-dense foods (that will not trigger a flare-up).
Carefully planning complete meals and power-packed snacks in between these meals is a great way to ensure that you are catering to your body in the face of this disruptive condition.
Some examples of foods for Ulcerative Colitis are:
Lean Protein for Ulcerative Colitis
- Fish: Salmon, tilapia, flounder, tuna
- Shellfish: Shrimp, scallops
- Lean cuts of pork
- White poultry
Fruit for Ulcerative Colitis
- Canned fruit
- Cooked fruit- applesauce
Vegetables for Ulcerative Colitis
- Asparagus tips
Grains for Ulcerative Colitis
- White bread
- White rice
- White pasta
Snacks for Ulcerative Colitis
- Rice cakes
- Boiled eggs
7. How to Treat an Ulcerative Colitis Flare?
When UC is active, it is best to let your bowel rest as much as possible. Avoiding further irritation is very important so it is essential to mind what you eat during this time.
Therefore, we recommend a low-fiber, low-residue diet:
- Low-fiber fruit: bananas, cooked fruit, canned fruit
- Non-cruciferous vegetables: asparagus, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots
- Refined grain products: white pasta, white rice, white bread
- Lean protein: fish, chicken, lean pork, eggs, tofu
- Fruits with seeds and skins
- Spicy food
8. How Should I Manage My Ulcerative Colitis?
With careful monitoring of your symptoms and triggers, you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
These lifestyle changes will include things like:
- Dietary adjustments
- Stress Management
Your chronic illness management should consist of a conversation and collaboration between you and your primary care physician, a GI specialist, and a qualified registered dietitian or nutrition coach.
They have the expertise to guide you through the trials of your chronic illness and develop a management plan that suits your current situation.
Taking the Next Steps
Ulcerative Colitis can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing pain and discomfort that, at first, may seem impossible to deal with.
Worrying after every meal can feel overwhelming and isolating if you have not set yourself on the path to avoiding this debilitating digestive upset.
Ulcerative Colitis can be controlled, and we know consistency and persistence are essential for long-term recovery.
Understanding the intricacies of this disease, how you can change your diet, and how you can seek help in this endeavor are the powerful points to note on your way to conquering Ulcerative Colitis.
Over 3,000 people have benefited from the knowledge and guidance of our professionals. We monitor cutting-edge studies and modify our practices in light of what has been found helpful in the medical field.
With the help of professional observation and strategy, you can expect long-term symptom relief, the prevention of problems, and an improvement in your quality of life.
Talking to a professional can help you improve your health and happiness, and services like OnPoint Nutrition's online team of licensed dietitians are a great place to start.
Let us empower you to take the steps toward the better living you deserve.
Abby Aikens is a Content Manager who works with OnPoint Nutrition to spread the word about better health. With an arsenal of Dietitians and Nutritionists at her finger tips, Abby aids the mission of improving access to valuable information about how nutrition can change lives. Abby knows well the power of good nutrition and believes in the mission of OnPoint to educate and bring better health to their clients.