Microscopic colitis is inflammation in the colon that can only be seen by a microscope. It has also been referred to as collagenous colitis, relating to the thickened layer of connective tissue in the colon’s lining, or lymphocytic colitis, referring to the increased level of white blood cells. According to the Mayo Clinic website, microscopic colitis can be either collagenous or lymphocytic. Treatment includes a lifestyle change and a change in diet to alleviate the symptoms.
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Specific Carbohydrate Diet
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a popular diet for colitis and a grain-, lactose- and sucrose-free diet. The basis of the SCD plan is founded on the belief that intestinal microbes, yeast and bacteria are involved in intestinal disorders because of carbohydrates. Microbes thrive off the sugar from carbohydrates and can damage the cells of the intestinal wall. The SCD works by allowing minimal types of carbohydrates for easier digestion.
According to the Analyst and the Finer Health and Nutrition websites, the same gene that causes celiac disease, or allergy to gluten, causes microscopic colitis. The speculation is that colitis can affect the immune system and trigger celiac, and vice versa. Dr. Kenneth Fine, as stated on the Finer Health and Nutrition website, conducted a study that found microscopic colitis to be the most common cause of diarrhea in patients with celiac disease. Some patients have found dramatic relief following a gluten-free diet.
Chronic diarrhea can cause malabsorption, which can lead to malnutrition. The Crohns and Colitis foundation suggests that multivitamins can help replace the nutrients lost since a lot of what a sufferer eats may not actually get absorbed by the body. Probiotics, or good bacteria, help to keep the digestive system healthy. The Analyst website suggests probiotics may be of some help for those with microscopic colitis. Probiotics produce certain compounds that kill unwanted microbes such as yeast and bacteria.
Dehydration is always a risk when diarrhea is involved. Chronic diarrhea poses a higher risk for dehydration, and adequate fluid intake is necessary. According to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation website, there is an added risk of poor kidney function or kidney stones due to excessive diarrhea. Water and salt loss can also cause weakness, lightheadedness and dizziness. Fluid intake needs to keep up with the water lost during diarrhea.
While a change in diet can help alleviate symptoms of microscopic colitis, the Crohns and Colitis Foundation website warns that there is no single diet best suited for all individuals. The Mayo Clinic suggests limiting fat intake and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. Some people do well avoiding dairy. Always consult your doctor first before making any changes to your diet or adding supplements.
- SCDiet: About the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
- The Analyst: Microscopic Colitis (Collagenous Colitis/Lymphocytic Colitis)
- Finer Health & Nutrition: Frequently Asked Questions About Microscopic Colitis
- The Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America: Diet and Nutrition
- Mayo Clinic: Collagenous Colitis, Lymphocytic Colitis: Treatment and Drugs