Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis are very similar yet very different diseases, however both are autoimmune diseases which can wreck havoc upon day to day life.
Ulcerative colitis is defined as chronic inflammation of the colon and large intestine which causes diarrhoea most commonly with blood. The condition goes in waves of flares and remissions. Flares being the times you experience symptoms; cramping, bloody diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, muscle cramps, etc. and remissions being the periods without symptoms. Below are some tips with can help to reduce the occurrence of flares and improve the management of your condition.
Find your triggers
Triggers are things which play a role in upsetting your digestive system and increasing the chance of a flare. If we can get to the bottom of the why then we will have a reduced chance or sporadic flaring. For some people this looks like food and for others it can be significant emotional stress.
Working alongside a nutritionist can take the guesswork out of finding food triggers by giving you a plan and documenting your experiences. A nutritionist can also assist in identifying whether the food is a trigger, intolerance, allergy or if your gut is just needs some more repair work before the food can be reintroduced.
I know this sounds like the worst idea in the world because coffee fuels most of us day to day, however believe me on this one. Coffee contains caffeine which can irritate the lining of the gut. If the lining of our large intestines or bowel is already irritated we want to do everything we can to calm it down and not aggravate it further. Avoiding caffeine for the most part is ideal.
There are plenty of caffeine free alternatives such as loose leaf chai, dandelion tea, bone broth, herbal teas or even decaf if you can't let go of the idea of coffee. Experiment and see which one you like best.
Find supplements that work for you
There is an abyss of information on supplements throughout the internet. In fact the supplement industry is worth a whopping $3.1 billion in Australia alone! One of the largest segments of that industry is gut health products. So many of these products yield no benefit. Either because they are poor quality, not sourced correctly, are marketed better than the product works or don't assist the individual. Remember a supplement is exactly that, a product used to supplement what is not in the diet.
Working alongside a nutritionist who understands you as well as your lifestyle, medication and condition can go a long way to turning those 10 gut supplements you have on your kitchen bench that you can't remember if they are working but you're taking them anyway. To a targeted 1-2 supplement approach, saving time, money and providing you with relief.
I know in the fast paced world that we currently live in getting some relaxation in can seem like a joke. However, it is extremely important for management of Ulcerative Colitis symptoms. One of the major contributors to a flare is stress. Believe it or not, if your body is constantly in fight or flight mode (stress) there is no time for repair. The gut needs our brains to relax to be able to function and digest efficiently, if you are not allowing this to happen then you gut may be compromised.
Finding that thing that you find relaxing is key. For some this may be going outside, going for a walk, a bath, spending time with good friend or a 5 minute meditation before going to sleep.
Work with a professional team
Why a team you ask? Because a one fits all approach doesn't work in health care, we are all so unique and should be treated accordingly.
In no way shape or form should you be expected to become a health professional when you are diagnosed with a medical condition, although many of us try to through Dr. Google. A multi-disciplinary approach to health is essential and even more so while managing a chronic illness.
I always suggest finding second opinions and shopping around to see which medical professional not only works for you but is willing to work as a team to improve your health. This could be a combination of a gastroenterologist, nutritionist and osteopath for example. After all we are individuals and should be treated that way.
If you would like some extra support or nutritional support please feel free to get in contact with me.