Wellness: Eight tips to incorporate into your daily routine for a healthy gut
Ulcerative colitis (UC) was a very rarely used term a few years ago, but with changing lifestyles, bad eating habits and poor food choices, this has become fairly common. UC is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the internal lining of the large intestine, or colon, and rectum. It causes severe pain, acidity, bloating, heaviness and diarrhea during the flare-up periods, and almost few or no symptoms between these flare-up episodes. People with UC also end up having poor appetite (many give up eating due to the gut issues and irritation), fatigue and anemia. In other cases, joint pain, swelling and liver issues are seen as the body starts getting nutrient-deficient due to the frequent motions, as well as poor digestion.
Food affects many people with ulcerative colitis, especially during flare-ups, but food culprits that aggravate the issue vary depending upon the individual. It’s about what a person can tolerate. Different foods trigger inflammation in different people. Although food won’t cause or cure ulcerative colitis symptoms, it’s certainly a tool you can use to try to manage and heal your symptoms.
For example, some common trigger foods in ulcerative colitis include highly fibrous foods such as nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and popcorn. Eating these difficult-to-digest foods with an already-inflamed colon will aggravate symptoms. Other foods that may increase symptoms of ulcerative colitis include those that cause gas or bloating, like fried or spicy foods, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, fruit sugar (fructose), garlic, and onions. Pay attention to which foods trigger symptoms for you and find out the culprit, to avoid it completely.
Inflammation in the colon can make it more difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients and water it needs from food, which means vitamin and mineral deficiencies and dehydration are common problems. So, following a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet is of utmost importance. A few tips to include
in your routine are follows:
● Drinking plenty of water to ensure adequate hydration and taking vitamin and mineral supplements as needed, can also help maintain optimal health in UC. Try to drink at least 10-12 glasses of water per day to keep your organs and body hydrated. We can also look at adding fennel-infused water to lend a cooling effect on the tummy.
● Eating smaller meals more often, approximately every three to four hours, can minimise abdominal discomfort from overeating, plus it also makes sure that acidity doesn’t increase causing that extra burning sensation. Focus on chewing the food well to improve digestion and avoid friction in the gut, due to the larger undigested particles.
● If you have high-fibre foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains and you think that these food make your symptoms worse, then avoid eating raw fruit and vegetables as they bother you. Try steaming, baking or stewing them. It’s a good option to include fibrous food, but in moderation, so it doesn’t cause any irritation or bloating.
● Spicy foods, alcohol, smoking and caffeine may make your signs and symptoms worse. So, avoid them completely.
● Reduce the amount of greasy, oily or fried foods in your diet, as too much oil makes food heavy to digest and can trigger other symptoms.
● Stress can make your signs and symptoms get worse, and may trigger flare-ups. Try to follow at least a mild exercise routine, which can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalise bowel function. Perform relaxation and breathing exercises, do yoga and meditation. You can also go for a 30-45-minute brisk walk to reduce stress levels. Remember, our gut is named as our second brain, so if we have to keep it healthy, we have to take care of our mind, and focus on relaxation.
● The probiotics from rice kanji or any supplement can help in aiding with recovery of the intestine and also help in digestion. Better is to avoid wheat, dairy and sugar to control the inflammation.
● Protein is important for building muscles and overall recovery, but it can cause heaviness if taken in extra amounts, so be watchful of the same. The proteins that can be included in your routine can be pulses soaked overnight, lean organic chicken (only if it’s going well), egg and few soaked nuts or seeds. Also, as mentioned above, remember that the more thoroughly you chew it, the less likely it will make your symptoms worse, as there will be less work for your digestive system.
Over and above, getting some sound sleep helps in the recovery process, so let’s not compromise on sleep. Your healthy lifestyle changes and diet modification helps in dealing with ulcerative colitis. Eat healthy, stay healthy…