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What to eat to help reduce colon inflammation


Colon and intestine inflammation can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, a person may be able to manage their symptoms and reduce the inflammation by adding specific foods to their diet.

Medically reviewed by Sade Meeks, MS, RD — Written by Jenna Fletcher 

During a Flare

It is advisable for people with IBD to take the following measures with regard to their diet during a flare-up:

Eat less fiber

A person should choose white breads and rice over whole grain. Foods with less than 2 grams of fiber per serving are most suitable.

Vegetables

A person should cook their vegetables well. They can use fresh or frozen vegetables, including:

Fruits

A person can eat canned or soft fruits, such as:

Peeling fruits and vegetables where possible will help decrease their fiber content.

In a 2018 review of studiesTrusted Source, researchers found that following diets rich in fruits and vegetables helps reduce inflammatory biomarkers.

Eat protein

A person should ensure they are eating enough protein during a flare.

Sources of protein include:

  • soft and well-cooked meats, such as:
    • poultry
    • salmon or other fish
    • lean beef and pork with no added fat
  • low sodium and low fat deli meats
  • well-cooked eggs
  • tofu
  • smooth nut and seed butters, including:

Drink fluids

When symptoms worsen, a person with IBD should aim to drink 8 cups of fluids per day. However, they should avoid:

  • caffeinated drinks
  • sugary drinks
  • drinks made with sugar substitutes

Eat less added fats

A person should choose oils over solid fats when cooking. Their intake should be fewer than 8 tablespoons per day.

Using olive oil instead of other oils or fats may help with inflammation.

2019 studyTrusted Source reports that extra virgin olive oil may help reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and immune response in people living with IBD.

Post-flare foods

University Hospitals states that a person should slowly reintroduce foods after an inflammatory flare. To do this, they can add one or two items of new food every few days.

If a food begins to cause symptoms, they should avoid it.

The following foods may be suitable for a person who has just had a flare-up of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis:

  • diluted juices
  • applesauce
  • canned fruit
  • oatmeal
  • plain chicken, turkey, or fish
  • cooked eggs or egg substitutes
  • mashed potatoes, white rice, or noodles
  • sourdough or white bread

Between flares

If a person has recovered from a flare of intestinal or colonic inflammation, they could eat the following foods to help keep inflammation lowered:

Fiber

A person can start to eat foods that are higher in fiber when gastrointestinal symptoms have improved and it is less likely to worsen symptoms.

According to a 2017 studyTrusted Source, avoiding fiber long term may lead to a greater risk of flares in people with Crohn’s disease.

Therefore, a person shouldTrusted Source ensure they are consuming fiber between flares. Dietary fiber could be in the form of whole grains, such as brown bread or brown rice.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in foods such as salmon, can help reduce inflammation.

2016 review of studiesTrusted Source states that although using omega-3 fatty acids is not a treatment for IBD, they definitely help ease inflammation.

However, researchers note there is a need for additional research to determine how much of the nutrient is an effective dose.

2018 reviewTrusted Source reports that omega-3 fatty acids may benefit people with ulcerative colitis rather than those with Crohn’s disease.

The study goes on to suggest that omega-6 fatty acids may also help a person with ulcerative colitis who is between flares. That said, it also calls for additional research to confirm this.

According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

Natural foods

A person should opt for foods that have undergone minimal processing. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better.

Dairy and lactose products

A person can start to reintroduce dairy or lactose products provided that they do not worsen symptoms.

If a person has lactose intolerance, they should avoid dairy. Alternatively, they could eat low lactose or lactose-free products.

Added fats

A person should continue to prioritize oils such as olive oil or canola oil over solid fats, such as butter.

However, at this stage, they will likely tolerate added fats better.

Eat protein

Among other sources, a person can consume protein in the form of:

Drink enough fluids

A person should always make sure they are drinking enough fluids throughout the day.

It is advisable to drink water instead of fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or tea.

Summary

Colon and intestine inflammation is often a result of IBD.

Several foods may help reduce inflammation in the gut during, after, and between flares.

A person should work with a doctor to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation and seek treatment to help prevent potential complications.

Read full version here.

Posted on: April 28 2021

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