7 foods to avoid if you have ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause chronic inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the digestive tract. The disease affects the surface of the colon and rectum, which make up for part of the large intestine. Its prevalence in the country is more than you may think with at least 40 to 250 in every 100,000 people suffering from ulcerative colitis.
Bloody diarrhea, rectal pain and bleeding, and urgency of defecation are a sign of ulcerative colitis. Children might suffer from the same symptoms in addition to fatigue, fever, and inhibited growth. One of the methods to manage the condition, dietary changes are recommended to get relief from ulcerative colitis symptoms. A fiber-rich diet full of whole grains takes a longer time to digest and can worsen the symptoms of colitis. Doctors recommend excluding these foods from your daily diet to provide relief from the condition:
- Brown rice and whole-grain starches
Whole-grain foods such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, and wild rice contain a fibrous endosperm (present at the tip of the grain). This endosperm can irritate the bowel and result in pain due to abdominal inflammation. Other whole grains such as barley, millet, wheat-berries, bulgur wheat, and spelt should also be avoided. Doctors recommend switching to well-cooked white rice as it is low in fiber.
- Whole-grain foods
Whole-grain foods such as breads, cereals, pasta, and noodles contain a lot of fiber which can cause an ulcerative colitis flare-up. So if you are used to snacking on whole-wheat sandwiches between your meals, you may want to consider swapping them with foods that are low in fiber. Look for alternatives such as breads and pastas made from enriched white flour, and cereals such as puffed rice, corn flakes, and cream of wheat.
They might look harmless, but seeds can aggravate ulcerative colitis symptoms. This is because seeds contain a type of insoluble fiber which can cause symptoms such as gas, diarrhea, bloating, and other irritating side effects. Avoid topping your foods with sesame seeds, millet, flax seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, wild rice, and sunflower seeds to prevent such symptoms.
- Dried peas, beans, and lentils
Adzuki beans, soy nuts, edamame, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and legumes are high-fiber, high-protein foods. Beans are specifically known for causing gas, thereby leading to ulcerative colitis flare-ups.
- Fibrous fruits and vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are popular for their health benefits, most of them are highly fibrous. Since you cannot eliminate them from the diet, doctors recommend eating skinned, peeled, and deseeded fruits and vegetables as their skin contains the maximum amount of fiber. You can also cook them until soft so that they can be digested easily. Canned fruits packed in water or their juice, or pureed vegetable soups can also be in your diet.
- Dairy products
Some people have complained that eating dairy products such as high-fat milk and cheese worsened their ulcerative colitis symptoms. This could be due to their intolerance towards lactose—a compound present in dairy products. So, if you are one of those people, it is recommended to limit or completely avoid them in your daily diet.
- Sulfates and sulfides
Although sulfate is a nutrient required for bodily processes, it can also aggravate ulcerative colitis. This is because certain bacteria present in the gut feed on sulfate and creates H2S toxic gas in people with the condition, instead of normal methane gas. Hence, it is recommended to reduce your red meat, cruciferous vegetables, and beer intake, among others.