Fad diets and ulcerative colitis

When it comes to ulcerative colitis, there is no one treatment or diet that works, it all depends on the person.

It seems like fad diets are everywhere. But, despite what we see on social media, it is important to remember that not every eating trend is healthy for everybody.

For example, if you have ulcerative colitis (UC)–a condition that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine–certain foods can trigger a flare up of symptoms.

When it comes to UC, there is no one treatment or diet that works, it all depends on the person. While a doctor should always be consulted before beginning a diet, here are a few that are popular among patients with UC:

  • The Mediterranean diet. This food plan is pretty self-explanatory: you eat as they do in the Mediterranean, which is anchored in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish–among other foods. This Mediterranean diet has been heralded in the healthcare industry and across pop culture as a treatment for everything from anti-aging to weight management and heart health.
  • Gluten-free. Gluten is a protein found in some grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. While there is no research that proves that going gluten-free will help with UC, gluten intolerance can certainly contribute to symptoms–or make things worse during a flare-up.
  • Plant-based. Plant-based diets are all the rage, even A-list celebrities and professional athletes swear by them. As this diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, it may help reduce inflammation. However, it can be difficult to meet all of your nutritional needs while on a plant-based diet and may require help from a nutritionist or healthcare provider to manage properly.
  • Paleo. The “caveman diet” centers around a steady intake of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables–which removes complex carbs and the potential gut issues they cause. However, there are potential drawbacks for UC patients. For example, this diet can be higher in fiber, which is not recommended to those experiencing a flare-up. There are also potential nutrient and mineral deficiencies that can occur when large food groups are removed from your diet.
  • Intermittent fasting. This is when you have strict periods of the day at which you fast completely (time-restricted feeding) or that you eat less than normal (intermittent energy restriction). Studies in both animals and humans show some promise for this practice as a way to manage symptoms of UC. However, the evidence is not yet clear, and fasting can be difficult–especially when managing underlying health problems.

In short: don’t trust TikTok to determine your diet, particularly if you are living with a chronic health condition. And, as always, it is important to talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes.

This blog was written by Viviana Vargas, Senior Manager, Formulary Development in Darwin at Abarca.

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