Plant-based diet treats ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being Crohn’s disease. People who have it get bouts of severe inflammation and bleeding that goes along with it, on the inner lining of the colon. About 750,000 Americans have this disease.  It’s incurable but it is treatable.

The disease is characterized by periods of remission and periods when it flares up. Typically, medications are used to induce remission of the disease. Some of these medications have serious side effects and some are very expensive. Despite available medical treatments, approximately 15% of patients will require surgery for their disease.

Now for the good news. A plant-based diet can significantly reduce the risk of relapse in ulcerative colitis patients, almost as effectively as the leading drug, Mesalamine.

Here are some of the reasons why. A plant-based diet is naturally much higher in fiber than the average American diet, thus promoting the growth of bacteria in the gut that act to lower inflammation. A plant-based diet is also rich in phytonutrients, substances found only in plant foods that are neither vitamins or minerals yet are critical for good health. These substances also act to reduce inflammation and bleeding. Meanwhile consuming meat raises the risk of getting ulcerative colitis by almost 50%.

While some people feel that fish and fish oil supplements help with ulcerative colitis, it’s important to note that in well-done medical studies, neither fish oil or fatty acid supplements have been found to be effective in treating ulcerative colitis.

Treating the ulcerative colitis patient with a plant-based diet has several advantages. It has no side effects, is affordable, and can prevent and treat common diseases that patients with ulcerative colitis frequently have, such as type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. It also reduces the risk of colon cancer, which is raised for long standing cases of ulcerative colitis patients.  If you or a loved one have ulcerative colitis, it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about a change of diet.  We’ve written and had a medical article published on the topic, which you could share with your doctor.