Non specific colitis is a sporadic condition referring to any inflammation of the colon. The primary symptom includes diarrhea with blood or mucus. When the colon operates normally, the nerves and the muscles of the colon are able to act together for proper digestion and excretion. In colitis, the inner lining of the colon is inflamed and unable to perform correctly. Though colitis does not have any known causes nor any cures, diets specific to the disease have been shown to help to alleviate symptoms.
According to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD plan, “carbohydrates have the greatest influence on intestinal microbes (yeast and bacteria) which are believed to be involved in intestinal disorders.” The SCD plan is designed around digestive diseases and promotes a grain, lactose and sucrose-free regimen. The basic principle is to select specific carbohydrates that require minimal digestion. Per this diet plan, all grains are not allowed. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America argues that the SCD plan is not backed up with studies and proven results. While the foundation agrees that “decreasing poorly digestible carbohydrates may decrease symptoms of gas, bloat, cramps, and diarrhea in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” it contends that it “is not the same thing as decreasing the inflammation, or affecting the disease process.”
The Westchester Digestive Disease Group defines diarrhea as a bowel movement that contains more than eight ounces of water. It is important for people with non specific colitis to consume adequate amounts of fluid, preferably water, since the primary symptom is diarrhea. People with diarrheal diseases often get kidney stones if the fluid intake is not adequate. The Mayo Clinic suggests staying away from alcohol and caffeinated beverages, since they can make symptoms worse.
A well balanced diet plays a role in alleviating symptoms of colitis, though good nutrition is important for everyone. Often with diarrhea or inflammatory bowel diseases, malabsorption or malnutrition is present. The ability to absorb and benefit from nutrients in food is limited, especially if your diet is limited in variety. Taking multivitamins can help to deliver missing nutrients from your diet. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation says that medications tend to be more effective for people who are well nourished.
Some people with non specific colitis suffer from food intolerances. Since the digestive tract is not functioning at an optimum level, it may make digesting certain food categories, such as dairy, soy or wheat, difficult. The Mayo Clinic website suggests that if you are lactose intolerant, you may want to limit or eliminate dairy from your diet. The SCD plan is based on eliminating carbohydrates. Multiple sources suggest limiting or eliminating fatty foods.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, dietary recommendations should be tailored to each individual, as there isn’t one specific diet or eating plan that works for everyone suffering from colitis. The disease changes over time and a diet plan needs to reflect that. According to the Mayo Clinic website, eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day may also help to lessen symptoms.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Therapeutic Observations on Non-specific Colitis
- SCDiet: About the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
- Westchester Digestive Disease Group LLP: Ulcerative Colitis, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: Diet and Nutrition
- Mayo Clinic: Ulcerative Colitis: Lifestyle and Home Remedies