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Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). The colon is the part of the digestive system where waste material is stored. The rectum is the end of the colon adjacent to the anus. In patients with ulcerative colitis, ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.

Ulcerative colitis likely involves abnormal activation of the immune system in the intestines. The immune system is composed of immune cells and the proteins that these cells produce. These cells and proteins serve to defend the body against harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign invaders. Activation of the immune system causes inflammation within the tissues.

Treatment can help suppress the inflammatory response and manage symptoms. A treatment plan for ulcerative colitis includes:
• Diet and nutrition
• Medications
• Surgery (when necessary)

Patients with ulcerative colitis may experience reduced appetite and weight loss. Patients should strive to eat a well-balanced healthy diet and focus on getting enough calories, protein, and essential nutrients from a variety of food groups.

Depending on the nutritional status, a multivitamin or iron supplement may be recommended. Other types of dietary supplements, such as probiotics (“healthy bacteria” like lactobacilli), are being investigated for ulcerative colitis, Studies suggest that probiotics do not help much for remission, but they may have modest effects for reducing disease activity and improving symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.

Certain types of foods may worsen diarrhea and gas symptoms, especially during times of active disease. While people vary in their individual sensitivity to foods, general guidelines for dietary management during active disease include:

• Eat small amounts of food throughout the day.

• Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water (frequent consumption of small amounts throughout the day).

• Eat soft, bland foods and avoid spicy foods.

• Avoid high-fiber foods (bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and popcorn).

• Avoid fatty greasy or fried foods and sauces (butter, margarine, and heavy cream).

• Limit milk products if you are lactose intolerant (or consider taking a lactase supplement to improve tolerance). Otherwise, dairy products  are a good source of protein and calcium.

• Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine consumption.

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