An effective way to help relieve ulcerative colitis symptoms is by consuming certain foods. One method is drinking juices. They are a great way to consume vitamins and nutrients to decrease gut inflammation.
Ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition that affects the colon, rectum, or both. This condition results in abdominal pain and discomfort for the individual.
Various medications are available to treat symptoms, and doctors will make a treatment plan specific to the person. Natural methods, such as following certain diets including food and juices that contain fruits and vegetables, can also support medical treatment.
Read this article to learn more about the different and best juices to consider for ulcerative colitis, the benefits of homemade juice compared to store-bought, and recipes to follow.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Ulcerative colitis is the inflammation of the lining of the colon, rectum, or both. When this occurs, sores called ulcers appear. These ulcers can cause bleeding and a discharge of mucus and pus.
According to the American Gastroenterological Association, this condition can affect individuals at any age but tends to be more common in people 15–30 years old.
At present, there is no specific diet that will work for everyone with ulcerative colitis as each person can have a different reaction to the same food. It is best to keep a food journal and determine which foods are safe to eat and which tend to irritate the GI tract.
Vitamin C may help individuals recover more quickly from a flare-up. A 2019 study found that vitamin C improves ulcerative colitis in mice. However, researchers need to conduct further studies to demonstrate the benefit of vitamin C in humans with ulcerative colitis.
People can consume the following vitamin C-containing foods:
- oranges and other citrus fruits
- strawberries and other berries
- spinach and other green, leafy vegetables
Getting enough dietary fiber during remission can help regulate inflammation in IBD. However, the body cannot digest fiber. Instead, gut microbes ferment it. The relationship between gut health and fiber is complex.
A 2021 review indicates that foods with soluble fiber, such as bananas, nuts, broccoli, or citrus fruits, may be more beneficial. However, the research is inconclusive, and it is possible that eating lots of fiber during a flare-up may worsen symptoms.
Some studies show that drinking certain juices help because they contain numerous antioxidants that help mitigate inflammation. However, experts have primarily researched their effects on animals, so further human studies are needed. These juices include the following:
- Purple carrot juice: A
2018 studyfound that purple carrots may help decrease inflammation caused by colitis in the colon. Purple carrots contain an abundance of two forms of vitamin A, alpha and beta carotene, which experiments show improve mucosal healing. This is likely due to the fact that purple carrots contain a high amount of a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins.
- Cranberry juice: A
2019 studyfound that dietary cranberries were helpful in reducing inflammation in mice with colitis. They also partially reversed the change of gut microbiota in colitic mice by increasing the amounts of beneficial bacteria, for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Celery juice: Celery contains vitamin C and a compound called apigenin, which is also the main ingredient of wheatgrass juice. A
2017 studydemonstrated that celery is effective in treating mice with ulcerative colitis by decreasing pro-inflammatory compounds.
- Orange juice: A
2021 studyshows that oranges may help with ulcerative colitis by decreasing inflammation and promoting the growth of “good” gut bacteria— probiotics.
- Cabbage: Cabbage juice is a good source of vitamin C, A, and K. Research shows that vitamin K may help ulcerative colitis and other intestinal conditions. This vitamin decreases inflammation, supports the gut microbiome, and improves intestinal function. Additionally, researchers link a vitamin K deficiency to a heightened inflammatory state, meaning it is especially important for individuals with ulcerative colitis to consume enough of this vitamin.
- Apple juice: A
2017 studyshows that a concentrated apple extract has anti-inflammatory effects on rats. However, apple extract is not the same as juice, so it is not clear if apple juice would have the same benefits.
A person with ulcerative colitis can consult a doctor or nutritionist to discuss dietary strategies to try.
5 ounces of unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice counts as a maximum of one portion of a person’s recommended five daily portions of fruits and vegetables.
Juices may help mitigate symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, but there are some other health risks to consider.
Research shows that there is an association between a higher intake of sugar-sweetened fruit juice and an increased risk for incident type 2 diabetes. However, since the studies only assessed individuals’ fruit juice intake at the beginning of the studies, they may have changed their fruit juice intake during the follow-up period.
When buying juice from a store, a person must check the label to determine the percentage of fruit juice.
On product labels, juice directly expressed from a fruit or vegetable (not concentrated or reconstituted) is 100% juice.
For example, one serving of 100% orange juice supplies 100% of the vitamin C that a body needs.
However, other products may state they contain 100% of the daily vitamin C, but this does not mean it is 100% fruit juice.
Certain beverages may contain 100% juice and non-juice ingredients, such as sweeteners or preservatives. The product label will state “100 percent juice with added ingredient(s).” Although these do not reduce the number of soluble solids in the juice, a person with ulcerative colitis should drink 100% fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugars.
Examples of brands that make 100% fruit juices include:
- Bolthouse Farms
- Beet It
People may also consider making their juices at home to try different recipes.
There are variations in how to make homemade juice. The goal is to extract the water and nutrients from the food while leaving the food’s solids behind.
One example is to chop all of the fruits and vegetables and put them in a blender. Once blended, a person must remove the pulp. People can also buy a juicer to extract all of the pulp.
People can preserve their freshly squeezed juice in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
A person also needs to prepare homemade juices to avoid any contamination. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium found in the gut. However, some types of E.coli from cattle can contaminate foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and may cause illness when a person consumes those foods.
To avoid infection, people can thoroughly wash and scrub fruits and vegetables before juicing. A person can also submerge or clean fruits to remove dirt. An alternative is to bring fresh juice to a boil to mimic the process of pasteurization.
A person should also wash knives, boards, and juice-making equipment with soap and warm water after use. This ensures that there is no contamination when juicing.
Individuals with ulcerative colitis looking to incorporate more juice into their diet can either make their juices or buy them from the store. While both options will likely help, making fresh juice at home may be more beneficial.
Commercially sold fruit juices may be more convenient. However, many of them, such as fruit juice beverages or juice drinks, contain extra sugars, which may
Even though manufacturers tend to add nutrients back to pasteurized juice, scientists have developed
Homemade juices are delicious and relatively easy to make. Other vegetable and fruit ingredients like beets, ginger, kale, and apples can also increase nutrient diversity and change the flavor.
A few examples of juice recipes include:
- cabbage, carrot, and apple
- celery, apple, ginger, and lemon
- apple, carrot, celery, and kale
- cucumber, celery, and apple
- orange, carrot, and ginger
People can experiment with recipes while paying close attention to how they affect their GI tract.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that affects the GI tract by causing pain, discomfort, and bleeding.
One way to help relieve these symptoms is by increasing the consumption of certain nutrients like vitamin C and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Juicing fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase the consumption of these nutrients. Nutritionists may recommend trying a few different juices to see which ones relieve or aggravate symptoms.