What To Eat When You Have Ulcerative Colitis -Causes, Natural remedies

What’s Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. It causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the colon’s lining, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloody stools.

Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Symptoms depend on the severity of inflammation of UC, and what part of the colon it occurs.  These symptoms happen gradually.

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Diarrhea, often mixed with blood or mucus
  • Urgent need to defecate
  • Fatigue ( chronic)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Failure to grow in children

Causes of Ulcerative Colitis?

 While diet and stress can exacerbate ulcerative colitis symptoms, they are not the root causes. Instead, an immune system malfunction is blamed to be the factor. Although it’s uncertain if these problems directly lead to the illness.

The disease typically starts in the rectal area and may remain localized there or extend to higher regions of the large intestine. However, it doesn’t skip areas and tends to involve the entire large intestine gradually over time

Populations Most Likely to Suffer from Ulcerative Colitis

While UC can affect anyone, it is most common in people between 15 and 30. It is also slightly more common in women than in men.

How can ulcerative colitis affect your life?  

Ulcerative colitis affects more than just the body—it also impacts how people feel emotionally, their relationships, work life, financial stability, and beyond. Here are several ways it can.

1.  Physical Impact

Symptoms disruption: Ulcerative colitis symptoms like abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and weight loss disrupt daily activities and can lead to discomfort and embarrassment.

2. Nutritional Impact: Nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption may lead to weight loss, weakness, and fatigue, affecting overall physical health.Complications: Severe cases of ulcerative colitis might lead to complications like:

  • Dehydration
  • Severe bleeding
  • Bone loss
  • Inflammation of joints, and eyes
  • Increased risk for colon cancer 
  • Holes in the colon
  • Severe Infections
  • Narrowing of the colon
  • Liver disease
  • Anemia

3. Emotional and Mental Impact:

Stress and Anxiety: Fluctuating symptoms, the unpredictability of flare-ups, and concerns about managing symptoms in social situations contribute to increased stress and anxiety levels.Impact on Mental Well-being: Individuals might experience feelings of isolation, depression, and a decreased quality of life due to the chronic nature of the condition and its effects on daily living.

4.  Social and Daily Life Impact:

Social Isolation: Avoidance of social activities due to fear of symptom flare-ups or discomfort can lead to social withdrawal and isolation.

Work and Productivity: Frequent doctor visits, hospitalizations, and unpredictable symptoms may lead to missed workdays and reduced productivity, affecting professional life.5.

5. Financial Impact

Medical Costs: Continuous medical care, medications, and hospitalizations can lead to high healthcare costs, impacting financial stability

6. Loss of Income: Reduced work hours or inability to work due to symptoms can lead to income loss and financial strain.

How Food Impacts Ulcerative Colitis

Diet plays a significant role in managing UC. Certain foods can trigger flare-ups, while others can help to 

reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Why Diet Can Trigger Flare-Ups?

Certain foods, such as high-fiber foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, and caffeine, can irritate the digestive tract and trigger flare-ups.

The Role Nutrition Plays in Managing Ulcerative Colitis

A healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and maintain overall health in people with UC.

Medically Established ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ When it Comes to Food


  • Eat low-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as peeled apples, bananas, and cooked carrots.
  • Choose lean protein sources, such as fish, poultry, and tofu.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
  • Consume probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi.


  • Avoid high-fiber foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Limit dairy products, especially if you are lactose intolerant.
  • Reduce or eliminate spicy foods and certain condiments.

What is the best diet for someone with ulcerative colitis?

Low-fiber diet 

  • Fruits: Applesauce, bananas, canned fruits, peeled fruits like peaches and pears
  • Vegetables: Cooked carrots, green beans, squash, peeled potatoes
  • Grains: White rice, refined pasta, refined bread products like white bread and crackers
  • Dairy: Lactose-free milk, yogurt, and hard cheeses
  • Protein: Fish (salmon, tuna), chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu
  • Fats::  Olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and seeds (in moderation)

 Lean protein sources

  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, cod, flounder
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, breast over dark meat
  • Meat: Lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb
  • Eggs: Whole eggs, egg whites
  • Dairy: Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese

Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, cod, flounder
  • Nuts and seeds: Flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds
  • Oils: Flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil

 Probiotic-rich foods

  • Yogurt: Choose varieties with live and active cultures
  • Kefir: Fermented dairy drink akin to yogurt
  • Kimchi: Korean fermented cabbage dish
  • Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage dish
  • Kombucha: Fermented tea beverage
  • Tempeh: Fermented soybean product


Rich in beneficial compounds, walnuts can help repair cells in the large intestine and reduce inflammation. They may alleviate symptoms such as cramps, muscle pain, and bloody stools while offering added protection against frequent ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Natural Ways to Manage Ulcerative Colitis

These natural remedies offer relief, both short-term and long-term, depending on the severity of inflammation in the large intestine. Some helpful remedies include
  1. Meditation and Yoga: These practices aid in managing anxiety, depression, and stress linked to inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. They promote mental relaxation and support the body’s healing.
  2. Herbal Remedies: Aloe vera, curcumin (from turmeric), and neem have anti-inflammatory properties that might reduce digestive tract inflammation. Aloe vera gel consumption may enhance recovery rates in ulcerative colitis patients.
  3. Exercise: Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can significantly alleviate ulcerative colitis symptoms by reducing stress, strengthening the immune system, and improving overall well-being.
  4. Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial for UC patients. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they lead to dehydration.
  5. Acupuncture: This traditional practice, when used alongside medication, can ease gut inflammation, reduce pain, and improve well-being. It doesn’t cure UC but can manage symptoms.
  6. Essential Oils: Peppermint, fennel, and ginger oils have anti-inflammatory properties that may ease UC symptoms. Proper usage and consultation with a doctor are important in incorporating them into the management plan.
  7. Food Journaling: Keeping a food journal helps identify foods that worsen or improve UC symptoms. This practice guides individuals in understanding their dietary triggers, aiding better management of the condition.

By incorporating these natural remedies into your lifestyle, you can potentially manage and alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, promoting better gut health and overall well-being.

Beneficial Diets for Ulcerative Colitis 

 Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)Limits complex carbs, focusing on lean meats, certain fruits, veggies, and selected dairy. Aims to ease inflammation and digestive discomfort by avoiding certain triggering carbohydrates.


Involves avoiding fermentable carbohydrates found in wheat, specific fruits, and dairy.  It alleviates symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain by reducing these carbohydrates, beneficial for sensitive tummies.

 Mediterranean Diet
 Emphasizes whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, supporting gut health, and reducing inflammation through diverse nutrient-rich food.

Tips and Tricks to Implementing a UC-Friendly Diet

  • Meal planning and preparation: Plan your meals ahead of time and cook in bulk to make it easier to stick to a healthy diet.
  • Creating a balanced menu: Incorporate a variety of low-fiber fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats into your diet.
  • Handling dining out and social occasions: Research restaurants in advance to find UC-friendly options. Bring your own snacks and drinks to social events if necessary.
  • Tools and resources: Many resources are available to help you manage your UC diet, such as cookbooks, websites, and apps


UC is a long-term problem that hurts the colon and rectum. It makes people feel bad in different ways. Food and stress do not cause UC but can worsen it.

People with UC need to eat the food that suits them and avoid the food that triggers them. Some foods that may help with UC symptoms are fruits and vegetables with low fiber, meat with low fat, and fish oil.

There are also some diets that can help people with UC, like the low-fiber diet, the Mediterranean diet, the SCD diet, and the Low-FODMAP diet. Other things that can help people with UC are natural remedies and lifestyle changes.

These include relaxing, doing yoga, taking herbs, exercising, drinking water, and getting acupuncture. These can go along with the regular treatments that people with UC get. Another way to help people with UC is to use oils that smell good like peppermint, fennel, and ginger.

These can help with stomach pain and swelling. Writing down what they eat can also help people find out what foods make them feel better or worse.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30721977/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10445587/
  3. Ulcerative Colitis – Symptoms and Causes | Penn Medicine
  4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/1902293
  5. Acupuncture for Ulcerative Colitis: Benefits, Side Effects, and More (healthline.com)


2 thoughts on “What To Eat When You Have Ulcerative Colitis -Causes, Natural remedies”

  1. Hi Zahra! In the vein of this post, wondering if you’ve heard of drink wholesome? My brother and I run the company and we make gut-friendly protein powders, meal replacements and hydration mixes that help people with severe digestive diseases like Crohn’s and IBS. As you’ll see our products use a short list of real, minimally-processed foods that the body recognizes and can digest.

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    • Hi Tessa
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