Get to know what foods can help in managing ulcerative colitis symptoms.
Using medications is usually the first line of defense when it comes to treating an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis (UC). But still many medical treatments for IBD may come with very expensive and significant side effects. And the number of IBD patients experiencing long-term remission through the use of medication is relatively low, according to an article published in February 2016 in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery.
Another study published in January 2016 in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery shows that what you eat can also play an important part in keeping symptoms at bay. Some research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish can help protect some people against UC symptoms.
“Proper nutrition is the key element to a healthy body, including the GI tract, since it provides the nutrients the body needs to fight disease, inflammation, and promote a healthy immune system,” says Connie Diekman, RD, director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. She adds that while disease occurrence is unrelated to diet, the right foods may help to better manage symptoms.[Read: Here Are The Different Types Of Crohn’s Disease]
Here are four foods that may help you manage UC inflammation:
1. Fermented Foods Can Help Balance Gut Bacteria
Fermented foods, like kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, has active probiotics, or good bacteria, which can be helpful for some people with digestive problems, according to the Brigham and Women’s Health Crohn’s and Colitis Center. Fermented foods are great by themselves — kombucha tea, for example — or as a garnish to any healthy dish.
2. Fish With Omega-3s Can Help Fight Inflammation
Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help with UC-related inflammation, says Diekman. In fact, many studies show that eating more fish might be linked to a longer life and a lower risk of chronic disease.
Omega-3 fats are particularly important because we can’t make them in our body. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, herring, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel.
You shouldn’t have too much of a problem with fish, but remember to never fry it. According to a study published in April 2014 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the way you cook fish may alter its nutritional value. The study discovered that frying fish, in particular, increased saturated fatty acids and cholesterol levels in the food when compared with other cooking methods. Instead, try baking or grilling fish.
3. Spices Like Ginger and Turmeric Can Fight Nausea and Joint Pain
Spices can enhance the taste of your meal and may reduce UC symptoms. Turmeric may also help reduce chronic joint pain, which can be a symptom related to UC. Ginger, on the other hand, carries anti-nausea, digestive, and respiratory properties — all of which may help in reducing the risk of digestion problems related to an IBD.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables Are Packed With Powerful Nutrients
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, and kale, contain a wide variety of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are important nutrients for anyone, especially people who have UC. Unfortunately, these foods may be hard to digest.
“Cruciferous vegetables are often foods people find hard to consume, particularly when the IBD is more out of control,” says Diekman. These vegetables contain a carbohydrate chain known as raffinose, which humans do not have the enzyme needed to break down; this means that it passes through the stomach and small intestine undigested. These foods are also known to cause excessive gas, which can exacerbate symptoms in people with UC.
Your best bet is to make these incredibly nutritious vegetables more palatable by simmering, sautéing, baking, or steaming them, according to Diekman.[Read: 9 Things to Know About Crohn’s Disease and Cramps]
Choosing the Right Diet for Ulcerative Colitis
“The key message for people is to work closely with a registered dietitian to design a diet that works for you,” says Diekman. It’s also good to keep track of the foods that you eat in a journal
Still, even some healthy foods can become a problem for patients. Diekman says to remove these foods when symptoms occur and potentially reintroduce them gradually in small portions.