Ulcerative colitis is inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, causing pain and often bleeding and diarrhea. There are medications used to reduce inflammation, and thereby stop the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Good nutrition is important when fighting any disease or condition but there are some foods to avoid.

WHEN EATING DURING FLARE UPS, IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO:

  • Reduce your fiber intake (limit whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, nuts, seed, and heavy skins on fruits and vegetables. It is OK to drink juice if it is not a trigger for you.)

  • Limit coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and caffeine

  • Limit higher fat foods (as they stimulate gut activity)
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Be cautious with dairy products if you get diarrhea*. *Diarrhea can make you temporarily unable to digest milk sugar. This could make your diarrhea, cramping, bloating and pain worse. You can either:

  • Avoid milk and ice cream, and avoid, or limit, yogurt or cheese OR;
    try using Lactaid pills with your dairy products, or Lactaid milk to drink or on your cereal.

  • Note: Yogurt and hard cheeses usually have less milk sugar, so they may not bother you.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE FLARE UPS, AND PROLONG REMISSION?

  • Keep taking the medication as your doctor instructs.
  • Relax! Find ways to alleviate stress.
  • Exercise regularly, as tolerated.
  • Eat regularly. Try to eat 3 small meals and snacks. A “meal” includes foods from at least 3 out of 4 food groups on Canada’s Food Guide. (Roughly: Bread/Grains [not white bread], fruit & veggies, dairy products & Proteins such as meats, nuts or eggs.
  • Ensure you eat enough fiber during your remission, as it can help reduce both diarrhea and constipation. Some people find cooked fiber easier than raw (i.e. cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw. This does not lower the fiber in the food.)
  • Eat fish, twice a week. Fish oil can help reduce inflammation because it contains a higher amount of “omega-3 fatty acids”. These fats have been shown to have some benefit in other inflammatory illnesses, too.
  • Learn what your “trigger foods” are, and avoid them as you can.
  • You may have flare-ups for no reason. Food is not the only trigger, so when you are looking to identify your own trigger foods, please try not to be too restrictive with yourself.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON “TRIGGER FOODS”?

  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream)
  • Sulphur-containing foods:
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Whole milk*
  • Ice cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Soy milk
  • Mineral water
  • Drinks containing sulphites, such as wine and cordials
  • Nuts
  • Excessive red meat
  • Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts)
  • Citrus (oranges, grapefruits)
  • Corn, peas, grapes, cucumbers, popcorn
  • Barbequed foods
  • Peanuts
  • Seedy, acidic foods like tomatoes, strawberries, some other berries
  • Coffee
  • Spices
  • Pork
  • High fat foods

* Note: skim milk appears to be OK

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Do not try to avoid all of these, or you would be left with just about nothing to eat.

My suggestions are the following:

Look at what you are currently eating, and try to eat regularly and balance your diet as best as you can. If you have another flare up, write down what you ate that day or the day before. You may be able to identify food, or foods, that triggers you that way.

Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D. You are at higher risk of bone diseases like osteoporosis. You need at least 1200 mg of elemental calcium, plus 400 IU of vitamin D per day. This means 3-4 servings of dairy products per day (refer to Canada’s Food Guide for information on what is a “serving”). If you do not consume enough milk, yoghurt, or cheese, you will need a calcium supplement. Calcium carbonate tablets are easily digested and available at pharmacies and even most grocery stores.

A daily multivitamin plus mineral is also a good idea.

Call us at the Pharmacy with any questions or concerns, or, send an email.

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