George Krucik, MD, MBA
Colitis, also known as ulcerative colitis, is characterized by inflammation and sores along the rectum and colon. Ulcers form in the areas of inflammation leading to bleeding, pus and diarrhea. Colitis is believed to be caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to the bacteria in the gut, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Some foods may trigger a colitis reaction and should be avoided.
Some people with colitis may have difficulty digesting foods with lactose, according to the Mayo Clinic. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy foods. To limit colitis symptoms, like diarrhea, people with colitis should avoid foods containing lactose, or use an enzyme to help digest the lactose called called lactase. Dairy foods with lactose include milk, some cheeses, ice cream, half and half, yogurt, condensed milk, nonfat dried milk powder and cream cheese. People who cannot eat dairy foods should find an alternative source of calcium such as fortified soymilk, spinach or a supplement.
High Fiber Foods
Most people need to eat more fiber because of its health benefits. But for people with colitis, foods high in fiber can cause more abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic. High fiber foods that people with colitis may need to avoid include apples, bananas, blueberries, figs, grapefruits, pears, raspberries, avocados, carrots, kale, popcorn, potatoes with the skin, bran, oats, brown rice, whole wheat breads, legumes, peas and nuts. Some people with colitis may not be able to tolerate raw fruits and vegetables but can tolerate them cooked, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with colitis should discuss fiber in their diet with their physician.
Foods that create a lot of gas in the gut during digestion should also be avoided by people with colitis. Many of these foods are also high in fiber. Gas-causing foods to avoid include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, raw fruits, raw fruit juices, popcorn, dried fruits, legumes, foods made with sorbitol and oat bran.
Caffeine Containing Foods
Foods with caffeine also cause gastrointestinal distress in people with colitis. Caffeine containing foods to avoid include coffee, black and green tea and cola.
The Mayo Clinic advises that people with colitis should also avoid alcohol to limit flare ups. This includes beer, wine and hard liquor.