Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause a chronic ulcers in the colon and rectum. This disease can start at any age but commonly develops between the ages of 15 and 30. The cause of ulcerative colitis is still unknown but a person's immune system, heredity and diet are all considered important factors that influence flareups and remission.
Symptomatic flare-ups can alternate between periods of symptom-free remission. Patients with mild colitis may have normal bowel movements with a mucous discharge. Most often, patients experience abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. Patients with severe colitis may experience violent and frequent diarrhea that is bloody, with fever, malaise, loss of appetite, weight loss and anemia.
One of the most important steps in treating colitis is to modify your diet. There is no set food guideline for this condition. Generally, patients with colitis should keep a food diary to become more aware of how certain foods affect them. The diary can help to create an eating plan based upon personal experience. A qualified dietician can help to provide insight into good nutrition.
There are certain foods that typically irritate the bowel and which most people with colitis should avoid. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber, like bran, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and fresh fruits and vegetables can be irritating to the bowel. Fatty foods are also difficult to digest and should be consumed sparingly.
Depending on your intestines, you may find it beneficial to avoid consuming caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages and alcohol. Even spicy foods and vegetables that produce gas should be avoided. Dairy products tend to cause flare-ups in many people with ulcerative colitis. However, lactose-free dairy products do not seem to cause same type of problems and are generally recommended.
A very low-residue diet is recommended during flare-ups and in severe cases. This type of diet should be low in fiber. Most low-residue diets include clear broth, weak tea, toasted white bread, soft cooked eggs, gelatin, and creamed wheat or rice cereals.