Ulcerative colitis is a type of auto immune disease where the body’s own immune cells attack the internal organs leading to damage of healthy organs and tissues. An inflammation along the colon (large intestine) and the rectum is termed as ulcerative colitis.
General symptoms include severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. Lethargy, malnourishment due to decreased absorption of several nutrients and weight loss are observed among many. Constant diarrhea prevents the body from assimilating or absorbing any type of nutrient that is ingested leading to a nutrient deficit. In severe cases, people even complain of joint pain and liver abnormalities.
Although the disease cripples the person’s well being, a proper diet with special emphasis on what to include and avoid will be extremely beneficial in controlling the severity of the disease and help in improving the person’s overall well being. A protein rich diet with essential vitamins and minerals is crucial for maintaining a good overall health status. If you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it is advisable to keep the following points in mind while planning your diet:
A High Protein Diet:
Proteins are essential for repairing damaged cells. Since ulcerative colitis leads to excess injury of healthy cells and tissues, a protein rich diet is mandatory to recover quickly. Proteins help build new cells, maintain them and also repair the damages ones. A high protein diet can be obtained by including non vegetarian foods in your diet. Animal sources provide complete proteins helping your body assimilate and accept high quality proteins easily. Plant proteins on the other hand are not rich in all essential amino acids required for quick recovery. Include fish, chicken without skin, lean meat and eggs in your diet. If you are a vegetarian, you can include plant sources like soy.
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Eat cereals that are well cooked and in some cases mashed. When cooked thoroughly, numerous complex carbohydrates are broken into simpler ones. This gives very little work to your intestines, easing out the digestion process. This in turn will help the intestinal cells get adequate rest helping them recover faster. Do not include high fiber foods.
Iron, Folic Acid And Vitamin B12:
Many people suffering from ulcerative colitis have anemia, folic acid deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency. Decrease in absorption of iron and B12 amongst other nutrients is observed due to severe diarrhea. It is therefore crucial to consume an iron rich diet. Animal products like organ meat are great sources of iron and vitamin B12. They also provide numerous other B vitamins. Folic acid can be obtained from both animal and plant sources. The latter include greens like spinach, brocolli, green beans and black eyed peas amongst others.
Severe diarrhea and vomiting leads to excess loss of electrolytes making you feel lethargic and extremely weak. If your body fails to get enough electrolytes, an electrolyte imbalance will occur. This may lead to coma in extreme cases and even death if not treated immediately. Therefore, provide your body with adequate quantities of water. You can add a pinch of salt and sugar to get electrolytes. Coconut water is rich in several minerals and also has a soothing effect on the mucus membrane, preventing aggravation of the disease. Buttermilk is another powerful drink to consider for electrolyte imbalance.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt are very beneficial in providing proteins for healing. They also have a soothing effect on the intestinal walls when consumed. If you are lactose intolerant, avoid consuming milk and milk products.Eat small regular meals at a frequent basis. This will prevent an overburdening of your digestive system but at the some time will give a constant flow of nutrients.
Avoid eating very spicy food. Very hot and cold foods should also be avoided because temperature fluctuations can lead to irritation and sudden release of enzymes. Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables. When consumed with skin, these foods can leave a lot of residue and fiber that becomes difficult to eliminate, leading to unwanted stress and pressure on the digestive system.
Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea act as irritants and should be avoided completely. Smoking and alcohol consumption should be completely stopped for better recovery and healing. Fried foods, vegetables like onions, cabbage, peppers and lentils should be avoided to prevent inflammation.