The Importance of a Food Journal
If you’ve had colitis for a while, you might have some idea of the types of foods that cause flare ups to occur. If you haven’t, you may want to consider keeping a food journal. Each time you have a flare up, write down a list of possible foods that may have caused your symptoms to return. After several days or weeks, look for a pattern in the foods that you eat and the symptoms that you have after each one. Many people with ulcerative colitis find that one or more of the following foods can worsen symptoms: coffee, alcohol, caffeine, high fiber foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), nuts and seeds, spicy foods, meats, refined sugar, or dairy products. A food journal can help you figure out which of these triggers your symptoms so that you can create your personal ideal diet for colitis.
Since diarrhea is one of the main symptoms of ulcerative colitis, it is essential to ensure that your fluid intake is high enough to keep your body functioning optimally. Lack of fluids can lead to kidney stones or dehydration. In the warmer summer months, make sure that you are drinking enough. In addition, make sure that your diet includes an adequate amount of sodium, which can help your body retain the fluids that you consume.
Diarrhea, as a major symptom of ulcerative colitis, can cause your body to lose essential electrolytes, such as magnesium, potassium, and other necessary trace elements. Iron deficiency is specially typical in people with ulcerative colitis, caused mostly by blood loss due to ulceration and inflammation, so your doctor should be carefully monitoring your iron levels to rule out anemia. In addition, if you are using corticosteroid treatment to treat some of your colitis symptoms, your doctor should be carefully monitoring you for calcium deficiencies, which diet or supplements can remedy. If you do have a deficiency in one or more of these electrolytes, make sure to discuss them with your doctor so that you can make sure to include them in your diet.
Researchers have recently been studying the effects of linoleic acid on people with ulcerative colitis. There is some supporting evidence that linoleic acid can impact inflammation. Many foods contain linoleic acid, including walnuts, safflower and olive oil, lard, and egg yolks. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid, which means that you do need some of it in your diet, but you may want to consider limiting it to reduce inflammation.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Probiotic Yogurts
Some other trials have shown that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and probiotic yogurts can benefit people with ulcerative colitis. EPA is a fatty acid found in fish oil, and to consume enough of it to be effective, you would need to take fish oil capsules, which can have a negative taste. The ideal diet for colitis would probably include both EPA and probiotic yogurts, but their efficacy in reducing inflammation and leukotriene activity has not yet been proven.