Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease causing inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of your large intestine. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stools, diarrhea, fever, rectal pain, weight loss and malnutrition. Researchers believe it is caused by an overreaction of the immune system, however genes, other immune disorders, the microbiome (the community of microorganisms that inhabit your body) and environmental factors such as bacteria and viruses may also play a role. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.
Although medications (and even hospitalization/surgery) are sometimes needed, a low-fat diet has been found to be beneficial and can help control symptoms such as diarrhea. A word of caution here – when fats are consumed, the focus should be on healthy fats such as olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in salmon and mackerel. Diets high in vitamin C have also been found to be beneficial since vitamin C can have a protective effect on the intestines by helping them heal faster after a flare up. People who eat diets rich in vitamin C also have prolonged periods of remission.
Other natural remedies that may help manage UC include:
- Bromelain. Bromelain is a powerful natural digestive found in pineapple which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease symptoms of UC and reduce flare ups. It can also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
- Probiotics. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria naturally found in the digestive tract. These beneficial microorganisms may help to maintain a healthy intestinal flora which may help your body better able to ward off inflammation and symptoms of UC. Eating foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or taking probiotic supplements can help support the health of the microbial flora in your gut.
- Psyllium. This fiber supplement can help keep bowel movements regular and may help alleviate symptoms and prevent constipation. However, keep in mind consuming fiber during a flare-up can make symptoms worse!
- Turmeric. Turmeric is a spice (the main spice in curry) that comes from the turmeric plant and contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin, an antioxidant that has been shown to support healthy levels of inflammation. It can also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
(1) Overview of Ulcerative Colitis.” Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview.
(2) Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. www.healthline.com/health/ulcerative-colitis.
(3) Ulcerative Colitis.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/ulcerative-colitis.
(4) Ulcerative Colitis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 13 Oct. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/symptoms-ca