5 Dietary Tips to Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Are you having a consistent gut problem? Maybe abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, fever, bloody stools? The signs point towards inflammatory bowel disease. It’s brutal and requires immediate action.
It is a severe gastrointestinal disorder that includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. But how do you know you have IBD, and how to manage it? Read on to learn everything about this disease and its management. 

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?  
IBD happens when you have a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that goes unnoticed and untreated for a long time. It is a lifelong condition, and no plan to treat it has been effective yet wholly. 
With some management tips, you can control this disease and reduce flare-ups. First, let’s understand why inflammatory bowel disease occurs. 
What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease? 
IBD is a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Scientists don’t exactly know the causes of inflammatory bowel disease, but it most probably occurs due to a weakened immune system. Possible causes are: 

Your immune system gets confused and starts attacking the intestines. It causes inflammation, which is your body’s way of trying to fix a problem, but it ends up causing more trouble. 
A genetic component can lead to IBD flare-ups. Someone in your family could have the disease, and you may inherit it. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms
You can understand what’s going on in your gastrointestinal tract by noticing the following inflammatory bowel disease symptoms: 
Belly Pain
You feel your stomach hurting or abdominal pain, like a cramp or ache. In IBD, your intestines get inflamed and swollen, causing pain. 
Diarrhea
Are you going to the bathroom a lot? It happens because inflammation messes with the way your intestines handle waste products. 
Bloody Stools
Sometimes, you might see blood when you go to the bathroom. It occurs because inflammation can make your intestines bleed a bit.
Weight Loss
You are losing weight without trying. It’s a worrying concern because inflammation disturbs the body’s absorption pattern of food nutrients. 
Fatigue
You feel exhausted, sleepy, and lack energy all the time. The body’s defence system and inflammation constantly battle it out, which can tire you. 
Fever
You feel a fever and high temperature. It’s a usual response of the body when there’s inflammation. 
Joint Pain
You feel aching or discomfort in your joints (like knees or elbows). Sometimes, IBD affects other parts of your body, like joints.
Skin Problems
Sometimes, you get rashes or sores on your skin. The inflammation associated with IBD can affect your skin as well. 
Eye Trouble
Sometimes, the eyes get red and painful, and you may have vision problems. It happens because inflammation may spread to the eyes as well. 
Note: There’s a difference between irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. IBS is a disorder of the GI tract, while IBD is the inflammation of the bowel wall. One can have both IBD and IBS. You can further discuss this with Prof. Dr. Aziz Ur Rehman, a renowned gastroenterologist with 25 years of experience. 
How to Diagnose Inflammatory Bowel Disease? 
If your symptoms match, your doctor may recommend you to get the following tests to make a diagnosis: 

Endoscopy (for Crohn’s disease): A view of the oesophagus, stomach, and the initial part of the small intestine using a thin, flexible tube. 
Colonoscopy (for colitis): A view of the entire colon using a small, thin, lighted tube with a camera at the end. 
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): provides a detailed image of the organs and tissues inside the colon and intestines, with minimal radiation exposure. 
Computed Tomography (CT Scan): gives a better image of the small bowel and the tissues outside the bowel. 
Blood tests: to look for infections in the blood. 
Stool culture: to detect infections in the stool. 

Treatment Options for IBD
Inflammatory bowel disease treatment is based on the disease progression. Here are a few options for inflammatory bowel disease treatment: 
Medications
Doctors may prescribe medicines to help reduce inflammation and control the overactive immune response in your intestines.
These medications can calm inflammation, ease symptoms like pain and diarrhoea, and prevent flare-ups.
Some common medications include steroids, immunomodulators, and biologics.
Dietary Changes
Adjust your diet to ease symptoms and ensure you get the proper nutrients.
Some people find relief by avoiding certain foods that trigger symptoms. In some cases, doctors might recommend specific diets to manage IBD.
Nutritional Supplements
Special drinks or formulas that provide necessary nutrients.
If IBD affects nutrient absorption, supplements can ensure your body gets what it needs. They can also be used during flare-ups when it’s hard to eat solid food.
Lifestyle Changes
Make adjustments in daily habits.
Stress and certain lifestyle factors can impact IBD. Managing stress, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise help manage symptoms.
Surgery
In severe cases, surgery might be considered.
Surgeons may remove damaged sections of the intestine. It’s usually a last resort when other treatments aren’t effective.
Dietary Tips to Manage IBD
IBD is a lifelong condition. But that doesn’t mean you can’t manage it. Here are a few dietary tips to get you started on inflammatory bowel disease management: 
Decrease Your Fiber Intake
Low-fibre foods are gentler on your digestive system, especially when dealing with symptoms like abdominal pain or diarrhoea. 
Here’s what to choose:

Grains/Starches: Opt for white foods instead of whole grains. Choose items with less than 2 grams of fibre per serving.
Cooked Vegetables: Select well-cooked vegetables like green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes without the skin, steamed asparagus tips, and pureed squash. You can use fresh or frozen varieties.
Canned or Soft Fruits: Go for peeled apples, ripe bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and canned fruit in natural juice or light syrup.

Be Sure to Eat Enough Protein
Inflammation increases your body’s protein needs. Consider the following protein-rich options:

Tender, Well-Cooked Meats: Include poultry, salmon or other fish, lean beef, and pork prepared without added fat.
Deli Meats: Choose low-sodium and low-fat varieties.
Eggs: Opt for well-cooked eggs.
Tofu: Add tofu to your diet. 
Smooth Nut and Seed Butter:  Include peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter.

Drink Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated is crucial. Aim for eight glasses daily, and consider using oral rehydration beverages if needed. Avoid caffeinated, sugary drinks and those made with sugar substitutes.
Limit Added Fats and Oils
Focus on oils instead of solid fats. Limit your intake to less than eight teaspoons per day.
Consume Adequate Calcium, Vitamin D, Probiotics, and Prebiotics
Ensure you get essential nutrients for overall health. Consider these sources:

Dairy: Eat evaporated, fat-free, 1% milk, 2% milk, lactose-free milk, yoghurt, and lactose-free yoghurt.
Non-Dairy Milk: Fortified options like almond, cashew, coconut, rice, pea, and soy milk (note: soy milk may cause gas and bloating).
Supplements: If necessary, consider supplements for calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics.

Healthwire is Here to Help! 
You can easily manage your condition with these dietary tips. However, if something doesn’t feel right, consult a doctor immediately. A doctor can advise you on managing and dealing with inflammatory bowel disease. 
Reach out to the best gastroenterologists near you using Healthwire’s platform. It’s the easiest way to get a doctor with just one click. 

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