Getting a tummy ache every once in a while is quite common; for example, after eating a second serving of an especially delicious meal. But if you are constantly experiencing gut discomfort and digestive-related pain, this could be a sign of something deeper.
Millions of Americans are reportedly battling autoimmune digestive disorders—this occurs when the immune system attacks the digestive tract, resulting in discomfort in the gut.
Today, we’ll take a look at ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that affects nearly half a million Americans.
Ulcerative Colitis: The Facts
Ulcerative colitis is a bowel disease that targets the large intestine and the rectum. It can cause inflammation of the colon’s inner lining and also the rectal wall. Both will become red, swollen, and ulcerated. Symptoms typically include cramping, abdominal pain, constant diarrhea, poor appetite, fatigue, and anemia.
Some patients may even experience joint pain, redness, swelling, and severe liver problems.Most people who are first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis tend to already have nutrient deficiencies. For example, ulcerative colitis sufferers often have a severe lack of vitamin B.
A vitamin B deficiency can lead to several health problems, including a lack of energy, confusion, and fatigue. If you suffer from a bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis, your body won’t be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat, because you are digesting it and then releasing it too quickly.
How Can a Diet Plan Help with Ulcerative Colitis?
A nutritious-rich diet is beneficial, especially when it comes to dealing with diarrhea and bleeding. Both of those symptoms can dehydrate your body and create an electrolyte imbalance, leading to weakness, fatigue, and anemia. I suggest you keep a food diary and track everything you eat on a daily basis. In particular, make a note of the foods that aggravate your gut.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet: Foods to Eat
The following foods should be consumed at low levels. If any of these foods trigger a flare-up, then make the necessary adjustments and notify your doctor of any diet changes:
1. Lean meat and protein: Cooking poultry, eggs, and small doses of red meat can give you the proper protein you require with a low risk of flare-ups. Avoid deli meats and tofu, which are known to trigger flare-ups.
2. Fruits: Consume beverages with no pulp; try to eat fruits that are raw and ripe; avoid dry fruits such as berries, figs, and prunes, which have a higher risk of triggering flare-ups.
3. Vegetables: Incorporate raw lettuce, cucumbers, and onions into your diet. If you prefer to cook your vegetables, stick to spinach, pumpkin, seedless yellow squash, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, and green beans.
4. Fats and sauces: It is safe to consume butter, margarine, oils, smooth sauces, and dressings that do not include tomatoes.
Tip: Instead of eating three large meals each day, try to consume six smaller meals every three to four hours. Drink eight cups of water each day to avoid dehydration.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet: Foods to Avoid
The following are some of the foods that you should avoid at all costs if you suffer from ulcerative colitis:
1. Beans: Foods that are high in fiber can disrupt the gut and cause large amounts of gas, so high-fiber foods are not generally recommended for people who suffer from ulcerative colitis. Fiber is still essential for the body, so it is recommended that you either consume it in really small doses, or take a fiber supplement.
2. Caffeine: I know that some people love their coffee or tea in the morning, but the caffeine in these beverages can act as diuretics. Ulcerative colitis sufferers run the risk of dehydration (as they can lose water through diarrhea.)
3. Fatty meats: Strive for a leaner type of meat; always remember that the easier it is to chew, the easier it will be to digest.
4. Chocolate: The sugar and caffeine levels found in sugar can cause cramping and increase the amount of times you run to the bathroom.
5. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can stimulate your intestines and trigger diarrhea.
Always consult your doctor about any changes to your diet plan.
“Creating an Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan,” MedicineNet web site; http://www.medicinenet.com/ulcerative_colitis_diet/article.htm, last accessed June 1, 2015.
Longhurst, A., “Ulcerative Colitis: Diet Plan and Recipes,” Healthline web site, December 8, 2014; http://www.healthline.com/health/ulcerative-colitis-take-control/diet-plan-recipes#1.
Macmillan, A. “14 Foods to Avoid If You Have Ulcerative Colitis,” Health web site; http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20500615,00.html, last accessed June 1, 2015.
Scott, J.A., “Autoimmune Digestive Disorders,” Everyday Health web site, December 2, 2009; http://www.everydayhealth.com/autoimmune-disorders/autoimmue-digestive-disorders.aspx.