This disease can be characterized as a chronic disorder in which the mucous membranes lining the colon become inflamed and develop ulcers. Signs and symptoms include gas and bloating, pain, bloody diarrhea (causes vital loss of nutrients and fluids) and at times hard stools. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk due to genetics, however this does not mean that you are born with it. This means that you have a predisposition to the disease, and you would need to take precaution to ensure you don’t fall victim to this disease. There is no evidence to show what age Ulcerative Colitis becomes an increased risk, however it is more likely between the ages of 15-30. It is said that the earliest signs of this condition are arthritis symptoms (achy and pain in joints).
Although many studies have been conducted, the exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is unknown. Researchers have found that there are variables in which worsen the condition such as food allergies, stress, infectious agents (bacteria) and antibiotic use (kills healthy flora in the colon and allows micro-organisms to thrive).
If you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, the following are some recommendations to make help identify and eliminate irritants, keep flare ups at bay and gain back your appetite!
– Identify irritants: I recommend keeping a daily food log of meals and symptoms to see what aggravates you and experiment by avoiding those foods. Some people may only be allergic to certain things such as yeast, wheat or dairy.
You may want to consider getting a food sensitivity test done although these tests can be quite expensive.
– Keep the fat away! Avoid excess fats and oils out as well as stay away from milk/ cheeses as these will exacerbate the diarrhea that comes from Colitis.
– Eliminate processed goods from the diet: Avoid carbonated soft drinks, sugar, spicy foods and anything containing caffeine as this will irritate the colon.
– Heal the gut: Through probiotics or a high-quality yogurt, you can help replenish the healthy gut flora in your colon which is essential for assimilation of nutrients.
– Eat them veggies! Eat a high protein diet, mainly from vegetable sources. Leafy green vegetables are a great source of Vitamin K. Deficiency in Vit. K may have a link to the severity of colitis. Other sources of protein include baked/ broiled fish, chicken or turkey without skin. Avoid red meat as this can cause a lot of stress on the colon.
–> During flare ups, it is best to only eat soft foods until symptoms subside
– High fibre: A few sources of fibre include oat bran, brown rice, barley, millet, spelt, kamut, lentils, chickpeas and other legumes. Make sure grains are cooked well as this will be easier for your body to breakdown.
– Drink plenty of fluids: It is recommended that you have at least 10- 8oz glasses of water daily to make up for the fluid lost with diarrhea. e.g.) carrot and cabbage juices, ‘green juices’ are also good, can add chlorophyll liquid to juices, chamomile tea (unless allergic to ragweed), nettle tea
– Try alternatives: Can’t get away from that bowl of ice cream or grilled cheese sandwich? There are many alternatives to cow products such as various nut milks and goat’s cheese just to name a few.