It is thought that ulcerative colitis may be an autoimmune disease. It is one type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lower intestine and rectum, causing inflammation and at times severe cramping. It causes bloody diarrhea from ulcers that form, and the bleeding may cause anemia. There can also be loss of nutrients from the diarrhea as well as weight loss and fatigue. There have been documented cases of comorbidity of autoimmune thyroid disease with ulcerative colitis.
It is thought that the immune system of individuals with ulcerative colitis react with bacteria that is in the digestive tract. Blood work and stool cultures help diagnose ulcerative colitis. A patient may also need a colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, so that samples of the colon can be examined.
The diet for ulcerative colitis may be very particular for each individual. It is important to work with a health care professional so that a nutritious meal plan can be developed. There may be foods that are usually thought of as healthy that cause distress when consumed.
Recording foods and how you feel after eating is very important. If certain foods cause pain and diarrhea, there may be healthy substitutes. Lactose, the natural sugar in milk, may be a problem. Talk to your dietitian about nutritious substitutions for milk, such as rice, almond, or soy milk.
In some people, high amounts of fiber may irritate the intestines in this condition. Asking the medical team how much fiber should be used is important. Sometimes it is raw fruits and vegetables that are irritating. Your food log will help you identify these problems so you can adjust your diet for the long term.
Foods that contain caffeine may also cause irritation, and coffee may affect the uptake of thyroid medication. Drinking adequate fluids is very important. Be sure to discuss proper amounts with your medical team.
Therapy and treatment of this condition may include prescription anti-inflammatory medications and steroids. If there is infection, it needs to be treated. Sometimes there are periods of long remission, but flair-ups may occur. Surgery may also be needed. Ask your medical team about all options.
Taking care of your complete health and dietary needs is very important. Talk to your medical team about using the meal plans in Appendix A as a part of your diet.