Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's, and Diet

A yummy vegetable basket is a great source of fiber. Unfortunately fiber is not a great choice if you are in a flare-up.
A yummy vegetable basket is a great source of fiber. Unfortunately fiber is not a great choice if you are in a flare-up. | Source

Management of Crohn's Disease

Diet is a very important aspect of keeping your Crohn's under control. You will find many diets across the internet that make claims of amazing results. Although there may be some benefits and possibly bring you years if not a lifetime of remission, once you have Crohn's you will always have it. Ulcerative colitis, although very similar to Crohn's, it is a little different. For one, some say there is a cure, although it is not without its side effects.

Although these simple tips are not a magical cure, they definitely will help some sufferers get and stay in remission. Even with the strictest watch on your diet, sometimes medicinal and physician help is necessary.

Drink Lots of Water

Hydration is very important, especially when you are in a flare-up.
Hydration is very important, especially when you are in a flare-up. | Source

Stay Hydrated

The most important need is to drink plenty of liquids. Whether you have constant diarrhea or constipation, water is essential. You want to make sure you have plenty of liquid and electrolytes so that you do not become dehydrated.

Although it is recommended to have 8 cups of water a day, if you have a lot of intestinal issues, you may need something with electrolytes such as pedialyte, gatorade, powerade, etc. Each person is different, so how much water you need to consume depends on many factors. Your best clues is paying attention to whether your lips get chapped easily, your eyes feel dry, you have not peed for several hours. With any of these cues, you can be sure that you are not receiving adequate water.

Food Sensitivity?

No food causes flare-ups. On the other hand, you may find that certain foods irritate an already existing flare-up. Keep in mind that just because a food irritates your Crohn's or colitis one day, does not mean that it will irritate your intestines every time you eat that food. Sometimes it is the chemicals added, such as preservatives or pesticides that are the true culprit. Also it is common to discover that you can eat foods you couldn't eat a year ago, and vice versa. If you are doing well, add foods that you couldn't eat before very slowly in your diet. Try to choose organic produce to reduce use of chemicals that may cause sensitivity.

Another "food" that is a known aggragate is caffeine. Caffeine speeds up the digestive system, which would cause an increase in bowel movements. This may benefit you if you are constipated, but very bothersome if you have diarrhea.

Milk often gets a bad name, because it affects many people, but don’t automatically blame it, because milk has many essential vitamins that you need. Often times, people will unnecessarily cut dairy out of their diet, when they don’t need to. If you do feel this is a concern, experiment. Keep your diet the same as always, but cut milk products out. If you get better, then it’s a good idea to avoid that particular food for a while. You may want to try adding cheeses and other dairy products slowly, to see if is just milk in certain forms that irritate your digestive lining.

IBD and Diet

Role of Fiber in Diet

Fiber is an extremely important component of your diet. Although it is important to recognize when you should be eating it and when you should not. When you are in remission, it is important to increase your intake of fibrous foods such as bran, apples, and salads. Your colon is much like a muscle that needs to firm to stay healthy. By eating fibrous foods this allows your colon to be exercised and cleansed.

Ironically, what helps you remain in remission should be avoided at any notice of any ulcerative colitis or Crohn's symptoms. Both of these diseases causes tears in the lining of your intestines. By eating fibrous foods while these tears are present, you are not allowing them to be healed. The fiber brushes against them aggravating them with each passing not allowing them to heal, causing more irritation, resulting in more diarrhea or constipation and more bleeding. It’s best to stay on a low fiber diet when in a flare-up.

Images of an Unhealthy Colon

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ulcerations from ulcerative colitis. These are pretty mild in comparison to what I have seen. Severe ulcerations from ulcerative colitis. These red blotches are due to Crohn's DiseaseImage of Crohn's colitis
Ulcerations from ulcerative colitis. These are pretty mild in comparison to what I have seen.
Ulcerations from ulcerative colitis. These are pretty mild in comparison to what I have seen. | Source
Severe ulcerations from ulcerative colitis.
Severe ulcerations from ulcerative colitis. | Source
These red blotches are due to Crohn's Disease
These red blotches are due to Crohn's Disease | Source
Image of Crohn's colitis
Image of Crohn's colitis | Source

Don't Give Food A Bad Name Because It Made You Sick Before

As I pointed out earlier, just because a food caused a flare-up once, does not mean it will always cause a flare-up. Be careful about avoiding foods indefinitely after an irritation. This is a common mistake people do that suffer from these diseases, and end up restricting their diet so severely, they stop ingesting enough nutrients from food, or rather enough variety of foods. By missing certain nutrients your body may actually become sicker with these diseases because they lack a foundation to fight against flare-ups.

Don’t be afraid to try a food that previously caused you problems. You may find that it does affect your stomach one month, then not the next. The reason for this is unknown. Although if you find it irritates it after you try to put it back in your diet, there may be a possible food allergy and it should be avoided.

IBDs Sometimes Cause Low Grade Fevers

One thing often overlooked in those with IBD is that when someone does run low-grade fevers for long periods of time, they will burn more calories. This means that a person who runs frequent fevers, should actually ingest more calories. Though it’s not merely the quantity of those calories but also the quality of what is in them.

Diet is a very important part of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's. There are many really great diets out there. You will find many of them in the comments to my other hubs. If you know of one that worked for you, feel free to post it as a comment so others can see these great diets. I encourage you to try one that seems right for you for about a month, if you see improvement, stick with it. If you don't, then it's time to try a different thing.

© 2010 Angela Michelle

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Comments 16 comments

Colleen H (colleenbean) 3 years ago

Hi -- I just saw your comment to my blog on a "cure for UC" from 3 years ago. (I didn't even know it had been posted on hub pages. ) You said that diet isn't a cure for everyone...and I have to say I hope you are wrong but I really don't know. I am learning more all the time and seeing that there are some really sick kids out there. I just wanted to say thanks for this post...we learned the hard way to not eat fruit/veggie smoothies during a flareup recently! My daughter is 17 and had her first flare after 9 years last fall. She went into remission in Jan. after eating lots of salmon, cooked veggies and low fiber. Unfortunately she started to flare a few days ago, so she is back to eating super healthy. I just wish I could find a GI that understood the role of nutrition with the disease. She hasn't been on meds for years. If anyone knows of a good ped GI in the Twin Cities area let me know!


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 4 years ago from United States Author

I also now have severe nutrient malnurishments. (I know that doesn't quite make sense, but you get the gist). You added some really great comments. I actually have also recently heard about the connection with gluten, but not about papaya. Interesting. I really need to update this article. I've been so busy as of late. Thank you for adding your own knowledge!


Mari86 4 years ago from California originally

Hello...I have UC and wanted to tell you how I find gluten and sugars to irritate my GI. I really feel that celiac is so close to UC and Crohns in some way. I have also been reading about papaya and how it is an anti-inflammatory. And for all those that have UC, watch your calcium...I now have osteoporosis (and I am not even 50 yet!) because my colon, when inflamed, could not absorb minerals, vitamins, nutrients. Also juicing is great when you feel raw veggies may be too much.

Thank you for your hub...


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 5 years ago from United States Author

That sounds like good advice for all people, not just those with uc! :)


reflux 5 years ago from USA

Eating with ulcerative colitis should be based on a well-balanced diet that's high in protein, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, and good fats. Such a diet will provide you with energy and keep you well. Alcohol,caffeine,spicy food, sauces,seeds and carbonated beverages should be avoided.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

I am so glad to hear that the naturopathic route worked for you. I'm trying to live a more healthy lifestyle now. I tried doing it while I was sick, but by the time I tried anything, I think my body was too far gone. I'm healthy and happy now, and that's all that matters. :) Thanks for stopping by!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I read your Crohn's Disease hub first and now this one. I am sorry to read of the serious effects this disease has had on you. All those surgeries! I experienced much of Crohn's during the early 1990s. I'm still not 100% well, but I'm pretty good. I went the naturopathic route.

Great writing, Angela Michelle.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

Very true Garnet, I didn't know that until later in my symptoms, so I wanted to make sure others knew it as well!


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

Good job--many feel fiber cures everything, but when it irritates the colon, it can make symptoms worse.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you Pamela, I hope so. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Very informative hub. I know it will help someone with these diseases.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you Aunt Barb! Actually I should probably add that in the article. I know they do say, spicy in is spicy out, so I'm guessing even if we're not feeling it, it's spicty all the way down.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 6 years ago from USA

By the way, your hubs on this subject are excellent.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 6 years ago from USA

With Crohns avoiding spicy foods often helps when having a flare and for some avoiding it all of the time can help.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

I'm glad people are learning so much. I just hope those who suffer from the disease can find what they need from these websites!


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I've been learning a lot about this condition from your Hubs angela,keep up the great work!

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