Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a challenging condition to manage. However, diet can play an essential role in easing symptoms and promoting healing in the gut.
While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for IBD, certain foods are beneficial in reducing inflammation and supporting overall health. Whether dealing with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, incorporating the right foods into your diet can make a difference.
This article will explore the best foods to eat when having IBD and list potential foods to avoid.
Table of Contents
- What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
- Foods To Include In Your Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diet
- Foods To Avoid When You Have IBD
- Final Thoughts!
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. The exact cause of IBD is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors.
IBD is an umbrella term that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. In contrast, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the colon and rectum. Both diseases cause symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
IBD is characterized by periods of flare-ups and remissions. During a flare-up, symptoms can be severe. It’s recommended to avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as high-fiber foods, spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
In contrast, during remission, symptoms may be mild or non-existent. A varied and balanced diet- fiber-rich foods, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables- should be used.
Foods To Include In Your Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diet
Food alone is not enough to manage inflammatory bowel disease. Though combined with anti-inflammatory drugs, it can lower inflammation in the gut and promote healing. Here are some general food suggestions to include in your diet.
1. Fiber-Rich Foods
High-fiber foods can be problematic for people with IBD to digest during a flare-up, but they are essential for overall gut health during remission. Choose low-fiber options such as cooked fruits and vegetables, refined grains, and canned or cooked beans.
2. Lean Proteins
Proteins are vital for repairing and rebuilding tissues in the body. Choose lean protein sources such as skinless chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
3. Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health. Eat cooked or canned fruits and vegetables during a flare-up. Include a variety of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables during remission.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, it is one of the strongest natural pain relievers. It may help reduce inflammation in the gut and improve IBD symptoms. You can add turmeric to curries, sprinkle it in smoothies, or use it as a salad seasoning.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve gut health and reduce inflammation. Look for fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or consider taking a probiotic supplement.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and may help reduce inflammation in the gut. Fatty fish (salmon, tuna), flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Cooked Starches
Cooked starches such as white rice, pasta, and potatoes are easily digestible. They can also help reduce inflammation during a flare-up. Avoid high-fiber or whole-grain options during a flare-up.
Note: The foods that work for one person with IBD may not work for another. These are general suggestions that are known to calm down gut inflammation. Tracking how different foods affect your symptoms can help you identify trigger foods and create a personalized nutrition plan.
Foods To Avoid When You Have IBD
It is not necessary to avoid any food unless it is worsening your symptoms. However, there are a few trigger foods that aggravate IBD symptoms and are far better off your plate (and gut!).
1. High-Fiber Foods
High-fiber foods can be difficult to digest and may worsen symptoms during a flare-up. It includes raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
2. Dairy Products
Some people with IBD, especially lactose intolerants, may have difficulty digesting dairy products. Avoid milk, cheese, and ice cream, especially during a flare-up. You can also try lactose-free alternatives.
3. Fried Or Greasy Foods
Fried or greasy foods may worsen symptoms and should be avoided. It includes fast food, fried snacks, and foods cooked in heavy oil or butter.
4. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can irritate the digestive tract and exacerbate IBD symptoms. Avoid hot sauces, spicy snacks, and heavily spiced dishes.
5. Alcohol And Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can irritate the gut and worsen inflammation. Avoid the two altogether during a flare-up while limiting during remission as well.
While it is not the sole solution, dietary modification can be significant in managing IBD symptoms. It reduces inflammation, soothes the gut, and improves the quality of life. It is important to note that not every diet can work for everyone. Consult your healthcare provider or dietitian to develop a personalized plan that meets your needs and supports a healthy lifestyle.