How Your Ulcerative Colitis Is Affected by Diet
Ulcerative colitis, commonly referred to as UC, is a chronic condition that inflames and causes sores to develop on the inner lining of your large intestine. It's a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and many people with this particular kind of IBD need to modify what they eat to help manage their side effects.
Unless you're trying to gain weight, you don't need to significantly increase your calorie intake. Get in touch with your healthcare provider if you experience extreme weight loss as a result of inflammation and lack of appetite.
Between flareups, you need to restore protein to your body. Each day, you should eat the number of grams equal to your weight in kilograms. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, or 54.5 kilograms, you should eat 54.5 grams of protein each day. You'll need to eat more if you're trying to restore lost weight or taking corticosteroids.
Fluids and Electrolytes
People with inflammatory bowel disease must hydrate adequately! Generally, you should take half of your body weight in ounces and drink that much water each day. For example, someone weighing 120 pounds should drink at least 60 ounces of water every day. After flareups and with exercise you should increase your water intake. Electrolytes, often found in sports drinks, need to be replaced after bouts of diarrhea.
Vitamins and Minerals
People with ulcerative colitis should take a multivitamin each day. Speak to your healthcare provider about the risk of deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, especially iron, folate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Although there isn't a set diet that can help you prevent symptoms or treat ulcerative colitis, certain kinds of foods can help or hurt you. Identify problem foods by recording what foods you eat and noting when your symptoms get worse. This can help you establish patterns that lead to discovering what foods you should avoid.
Diet Recommendations During a Flare-Up
During a UC flareup, you should avoid food that encourages bowel movements like fruits, vegetables, prunes, and caffeine. Take a break from alcohol and concentrated sweets like juice, candy, and soda to decrease how much water is in your stools. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids, and try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. The goal of changing your diet during a flareup is to go easy on your digestive system.
Diet Recommendations After a Flare-Up
When your ulcerative colitis is in remission, you should keep a diverse diet rich in nutrients. Bring new foods in one at a time to avoid overwhelming your body, and consult with your healthcare provider before you make any big changes in your diet. Eat a lot of fiber-rich foods, protein, fruits and vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and foods with probiotics.
Eating After Surgery
Trigger foods can cause cramping, bloating, and diarrhea that can be extremely painful after surgery. Focus on foods that are easier for your body to digest while still giving it proper nutrients.
Food and Drink Tips
Try eating four to six small meals a day. You can get meals ready in advance and keep UC-friendly foods on hand to make it easier to avoid flare-ups. To stay better hydrated, try switching up what you drink, like water, broth, tomato juice, and rehydration solutions. Don't drink too quickly, and use a straw to avoid taking air in and causing gas.
Treatments and Nutrition
Certain medications used to treat flare-ups can have negative side effects on your nutrition. If you use prednisone, cholestyramine, or sulfasalazine, speak to your healthcare provider for advice. You may need to increase intake of certain vitamins or minerals to combat the effects of your medicine.
Although you won't completely cure your ulcerative colitis by altering your diet, you can certainly improve your quality of life. Before making any drastic changes, get in touch with your healthcare provider to ensure you're making the best choices for your condition.
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- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation: “What Should I Eat?”
- UCSF Health: “Nutrition Tips for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”