How difficult is it to write down what you ate and how you felt hours later?

Around three million American adults suffer from some form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is one million more people than twenty years ago. One form of IBD is ulcerative colitis (UC).

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms of UC include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal cramping, anemia, blood or pus in bowel movements, fatigue, and more – many more. Inside the large intestine (colon) are open sores (ulcers). The area of open sores determines the severity of the disease.

There is no cure for UC, but medications can address inflammation. UC does go into remission for years or can subside to a nearly manageable level. However, over time, some people with UC develop arthritis, eye inflammations, liver disease, and osteoporosis. When UC is appropriately treated, many of these follow-on diseases abate.

UC can occur in your teens but usually starts before 30 years of age. Some families seem to be more at risk than others because they have multiple members (siblings and relatives) afflicted with UC.

Causes of UC UC is an autoimmune disease. This means that many doctors do not know what causes UC. The Ashkenazi Jews have a significantly higher risk of developing UC than most everyone else.

Some doctors speculate that a high-fat diet might instigate flare-ups once the disease has been diagnosed. In addition, frequent use of NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, and the like) can increase the risk also.

UC Diagnosis Like many diseases with similar symptoms, other diseases must be ruled out to confirm UC. Doctors use imaging tests (MRI, CT, etc.) to look inside the colon. Endoscopic tests involve a flexible tube with a camera inserted into the colon to inspect and possibly take samples for testing visually. Stool samples and blood tests also provide confirmation.

Medical Treatments for UC The objective of medical treatment is to calm inflammation, reduce swelling, and allow the body to heal the open sores. Aminosalicylates are routinely prescribed if you are not allergic to sulfa. There are a few sulfa-free aminosalicylates available.

Corticosteroids are used for severe outbreaks of UC. Caution must be exercised due to serious side effects. Immunomodulators are also a staple that doctors use to treat UC. Treating the immune system may have an overall calming effect on UC. Some immune treatments (biologics) can target specific aspects of the immune system when UC symptoms are severe. JAK (Janus kinase) inhibitors reduce certain enzymes to reduce inflammation.

Non-Medical Treatments for UC Remember the headline of this article – keeping a journal – a food journal. Bran, nuts, seeds, popcorn, greasy foods, high-fat, sauces, dairy, and more can trigger UC. Use a food journal and keep track of the foods you eat and the UC symptoms that follow.

Yes, many of us find it challenging to give up some types of food. However, if the food causes you pain, then give it up – at least temporarily to verify that it is the cause of your worsening UC symptoms. You can go from high-fat to light-or-low fat. Bake or stew vegetables rather than eating them raw. Bake instead of frying works. Food swaps are always a good way to rule out a food.

Whole-grain bread (cereals, crackers, pasta, etc.) can be replaced with white or refined flour products. White rice can be substituted for brown or wild rice. Ripe fruit (without seeds) is an alternative. When you juice, remove the pulp. Stay away from fiber-rich foods and juices.

Ensure your meats are well-cooked – ground meat is best. Avoid tough or gristly cuts of meat. Keep below three ounces of meat at a meal. Keep it to low moderation until you know for certain that particular meat is not causing you problems.

Dairy has been known to trigger flare-ups of UC. Avoid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, custard, and ice cream. Sherbets, puddings, hard candy, clear jelly, and similar foods are acceptable substitutes. Avoid anything with nuts, coconut, cocoa powder, or dried fruits.

High-fiber foods, spicy foods, and any fruit or vegetable with skin (hence remove the skin) should be on the ‘do not eat’ list. Eggs are an option to evaluate along with tender fish and well-cooked poultry. Buttermilk, evaporated milk, powdered milk, plant-based milk products (soy, almond, coconut, etc.), and non-dairy cheese have been known not to exacerbate UC symptoms.

Avoid sweet juices, sodas, and anything made with sugar or corn syrup. Caffeine and alcohol are problems for some. Even something as sugarless gums have been known to create problems. Decaf coffee, tea, and rehydration beverages (sports drinks) are generally better alternatives.


Keep a journal and see what foods upset you the most. Next, identify the foods that have no effect at all. Experiment as your body will allow. It does not mean that the foods that did not cause a problem six months from now might be a problem.

UC has no cure, but it can be controlled. Our food choices will end up in our large intestines, and the reaction of those choices will be felt (or not felt when choosing the right foods).

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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