Multiple medical conditions can cause the colon, a major part of your large intestine, to become inflamed. Inflammation can be painful and lead to poor absorption of nutrients, malnutrition and loss of appetite. Dietary intervention and lifestyle modification may help minimize colon inflammation and symptoms of colonic diseases. Consult with your doctor to develop individual strategies for reducing colon inflammation.
The colon makes up the lower part of the digestive system where stool is made and stored for excretion, according to MedlinePlus. This is also where water and many vitamins and minerals are absorbed. Colonic diseases can lead to nutrient malabsorption and deficiencies.
Ulcerative colitis is one of three major bowel diseases that cause inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloody stools, abdominal cramps and pain, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables and flatus-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, popcorn and fruit juice may aggravate ulcerative colitis. Affected individuals should avoid problem foods and replace 2 to 3 large meals daily with 5 to 6 smaller meals. Nutrient malabsorption increases the need for vitamin and mineral supplements.
Crohn’s disease differs from ulcerative colitis because it can affect any area of the intestinal tract and spread deeper into the tissue. A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and added sugar may reduce the risk of Crohn’s disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Foods known to aggravate Crohn’s disease include dairy products, fatty foods and spicy foods. Nutrient deficiencies commonly associated with the disease include vitamin D, vitamin B-12, vitamin K, folate, calcium and zinc.
Abnormal pouches in the colon, or diverticula, can become inflamed and cause diverticulitis. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stool, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. Eating 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day and following a low-fat diet can help prevent diverticulitis. Specific foods that may decrease the risk of diverticulitis include cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and whole-grain breads. A low-fat diet restricts foods made with butter, vegetable oil, lard, shortening, cream and margarine.
Herbs and Herbal Supplements
Individuals with colonic diseases should consult a physician prior to using herbs or herbal supplements that have suggested anti-inflammatory effects. Scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of most herbs and herbal supplements is lacking. Herbs with suggested anti-inflammatory properties include cat’s claw, licorice, turmeric and boswellia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Regular exercise can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is good for intestinal health and can help regulate bowel function and prevent inflammatory bowel diseases, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Federal dietary guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days of the week for overall health.
- MedlinePlus: Colonic Diseasesrel="nofollow"
- National Cancer Institute: Large Intestinerel="nofollow"
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Crohn’s Diseaserel="nofollow"
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diverticular Diseaserel="nofollow"
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ulcerative Colitisrel="nofollow"
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.