Ulcerative Colitis; Managing Symptoms Through Lifestyle Adjustments - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

Ulcerative Colitis; Managing Symptoms Through Lifestyle Adjustments

April 4, 2011

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease whereby the lining of the colon becomes inflamed.  The condition is treatable and manageable, but not curable to date, as there is no known cause.  Common symptoms include sudden and multiple bouts of diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal cramping and fever.  Patients may experience a cycle of flare-ups with extended periods of remission. In the most severe cases Houston colorectal surgeons will recommend surgery, but only after other therapeutic methodologies have failed. Medically, ulcerative colitis treatment most often entails the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications in order to reduce the inflammation.

Ulcerative colitis solutions for managing the symptoms can also be achieved through lifestyle adjustments in the form of diet, exercise and nutritional supplements.  Although food is not considered to be a contributing factor, maintaining a healthy lifestyle free of stress through diet and exercise has its benefits for the body as a whole.  Some lifestyle guidelines for patients with ulcerative colitis in Houston are as follows:

Dietary

There are certain foods that can aggravate the condition when it is in a symptomatic stage. For example, fiber rich foods are not easily digested by people with UC. Limiting these types of food normally and even more so when in a flare-up is recommended.  These include whole grain products, plus raw fruits and vegetables.  Bananas and melons are acceptable in their raw state, but other fruits should be cooked, as should vegetables that have had their seeds removed. Removing the skins on potatoes is also suggested as the skins are harder to digest. Beans, nuts and seeds, legumes, plus popcorn are foods that also serve to aggravate the inflammation.

Fried and fatty foods are usually not within healthy eating guidelines anyway, but they also can negatively impact an ulcerative colitis patient.  Foods laced with hot spices and chocolate can serve as inflammatory triggers, as well as stimulants for making the symptoms worse.  Protein is essential for good health when consumed as fish, eggs, poultry, soy and smooth nut butters.  Please note the conspicuous absence of dairy and red meat products.

Fluids and Exercise

The chronic diarrhea associated with ulcerative colitis depletes the body of fluids. It is, therefore, very important for a UC patient to consume 8 cups of fluid a day at a minimum.  Water is the first fluid of choice followed by unsweetened fruit juices because sugar aggravates the condition.  In addition to any fluids containing sugar, caffeine should also be avoided.  This includes caffeinated tea, coffee and soft drinks.  Milk can stimulate diarrhea so restricting or eliminating altogether is suggested.  Avoiding alcohol is commonly recommended as well.

Nutritional Supplements

Diarrhea also contributes to the loss of minerals and vitamins essential to maintaining a healthy body. Folic acid, Calcium with Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid supplements, whether over-the-counter or in prescription form are recommended. Regular analyses of the blood will help to determine if there are any vitamin deficiencies. The addition of probiotics, healthy organisms essential to good colon health, may be added as well.

Lifestyle changes of any kind are always the choice of the patient. In the case of ulcerative colitis, the patient, working in tandem with colon doctors in Houston, can achieve a degree of control over the more dramatic symptoms of the condition if they choose to follow the recommended lifestyle guidelines.

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Houston residents who are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis can anticipate optimal outcomes as a result of consulting colorectal surgeons who offer a wide range of state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical modalities.  The Houston Colorectal Surgical Associates is a team of specialists on the leading edge of the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the colon and rectum.  Additional information is available at HoustonColon.Com.