Friday, February 8, 2008

News for Colitis Sufferers: Nutritional Diet and Ulcerative Colitis

For sufferers of Ulcerative Colitis- it can be challenging learning what to eat and how to use food to heal the body, particularly the large intestine.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic and often painful inflammationof the colon. The cause of this disease is unknown, but dietary factors have long been suspected as playing some role in the
disease because it appears to be more common in modern societies, which consume a lot of animal products and less fruits and vegetables.

The causes of colitis may be placed in the following categories:

o Infectious colitis: A variety of “bugs” may cause colitis. They have developed a variety of ways to overcome our natural defenses and ultimately cause colitis. The germs include these:

o Bacteria: Commonly found in food or contaminated water, bacteria may produce toxins that trigger intestinal cells to secrete salt and water and interfere with their normal functions. Salmonella, Shigella species, Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium are examples of bacteria associated with infectious colitis.

o Viruses: Viruses such as rotavirus or Norwalk can damage the mucous membrane lining your intestine and disturb fluid absorption.

o Protozoa: People infected with these tiny organisms may show no symptoms (carrier state), or they may have chronic, mild, loose, bowel movements or acute severe dysentery. Colitis due to E histolytica, also known as amebiasis, has become an important sexually transmitted disease in homosexual men.

* Radiation-associated colitis: Localized areas of colitis may occur at variable periods after treatment of the pelvic region with radiotherapy.

* Ischemic colitis: This disease often affects the elderly. The mechanism of ischemia—massive decrease in the blood supply to the bowel—is not known, but shunting of blood away from the intestinal lining may be an important contributing factor.

* Antibiotic-associated colitis: Usually this condition occurs in people receiving antibiotics, but gastrointestinal surgery remains an important risk factor.

The Best Diet for Treating Ulcerative Colitis

Food plays a key role in healing the intestines and reducing aggrevation and relapse of colitis. Sulfur in foods can be used by gut bacteria to generate hydrogen sulfide, a noxious and toxic gas that may very well damage the lining of the large bowel and lead to inflammation. In some people the inflammation becomes so severe they end with pain, diarrhea and blood in their stools or ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis can be addressed through a nutritional program designed to prevent the occurrence and extent of inflammatory responses. It appears that as one addresses the issue of intestinal permeability, ulcerative colitis is often brought into remission.

Individuals with a history of ulcerative colitis should be discouraged from eating a diet high in meat, eggs, sulfite.

Those who ate more fresh fruits and vegetables had a reduced risk of relapse. This has highlighted the benefits of a raw food diet.

Include in the diet:

  • Fiber to bind and eliminate intestinal toxins and to feed healthful bacteria. Soluble fiber is best since non-soluble fiber (such as wheat bran) may be irritating to the intestinal lining. Soluble fiber may be found in such foods as apples, pears, legumes, flax seeds, etc. Note: Lack of fiber may result in intense muscle spasms due to the lack of fecal bulk which acts as a physical buffer.
  • Water to continually flush the body of toxins. Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water a day.
  • Chew food thoroughly to promote saliva. Saliva is high in secretory IgA (sIgA) which binds to the antigens or toxins and then escorts them out of the body, leaving them unable to irritate or be absorbed into the intestinal mucosa.
  • Protein foods such as fish, very lean meats, and other protein sources which are low in inflammatory fats.
  • Whole organic foods which are high in fiber and low in pesticides and other toxins.


Garlic 1/2 clove three times a day Inhibits and eliminates toxic microorganisms
Fiber 30 gm a day of mostly soluble fiber Binds intestinal toxins

Beneficial Nutrients for Colitis and Chron's

Specific nutrients found to be particularly beneficial in ulcerative colitis include:

Fish oil

Fish oil appears to reduce intestinal inflammation. A Fish oil appears to be helpful in ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammation.


Probiotics (healthy or beneficial bacteria like Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium) may eliminate or displace causative organisms in ulcerative colitis. Thus, probiotics may displace and competitively compete with harmful bacteria.

These are some possible mechanisms of probiotics:

  • Competitive inhibition of bacterial adhesion
  • Synthesis of compounds that inhibit or destroy pathogens
  • Stimulation of immune response to pathogens
  • Competitive consumption of nutrients required for growth of pathogens.

Dietary deficiency of glutamine is associated with atrophy and degenerative changes in the small intestine. L-glutamine is an important factor in rebuilding the intestinal lining.


NAG is the key precursor in the biosynthesis of mucosal glycoprotiens, a major component of intestinal mucus.

Quercetin, Curcumin, and Bromelain

Quercetin is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to dramatically reduce the allergic/inflammatory response by inhibiting the release of inflammatory compounds.

Curcumin may be helpful as it is found to be as effective as cortisone in models of acute inflammation, however, it is only half as effective in chronic models.

Bromelain is also useful as it digests foreign proteins while it also blocks the production of pro-inflammatory compounds.

Together, quercetin, curcumin, and bromelain act synergestically to produce a strong anti-oxidant, anti-antigenic, and anti-inflammatory affect.

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