George Krucik, MD, MBA
Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. There are several types of colitis, depending on the location of the inflammation. Symptoms vary but commonly include abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. There's really no nutritional therapy for colitis, nor is there a cure. But learning to strike a balance between getting the nutrients you need and avoiding the foods that seem to trigger your symptoms can help you manage the condition.
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Fiber is a controversial issue for some colitis patients. Fiber is important for your health, because it aids in digestion. If you have colitis and are frequently constipated, fiber can make elimination easier. But if you're prone to diarrhea, it can exacerbate problem. Monitor how your body responds to fiber, and work with your physician or a dietitian to determine the role it should play in your diet. Whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as some fruits and vegetables, are good sources of dietary fiber.
Protein is an essential part of your diet, even during a flareup. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America says that an inability to absorb protein can greatly contribute to colitis symptoms. Finding protein sources that you can tolerate is key to managing your condition. Meat, fish, eggs and poultry are most beneficial. Choose grilling over frying, which can trigger a flareup. You can consume 50 to 175 g of protein per day if you are following a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Some people with colitis find that yogurt with probiotics is helpful. Probiotics introduce live, healthy bacteria into the digestive system. They can help regulate a digestive imbalance. Plain yogurt is best, because it has minimal amounts of sugar.
Bananas are also a good food choice if you have colitis. They are neutral in flavor and contain healthy carbohydrates, which aid digestion. Bananas are also part of the BRAT diet -- bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast -- which is traditionally used to treat stomach inflammation and other digestive issues.