Colon and intestine inflammation can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, a person may be able to manage their symptoms and reduce the inflammation by adding specific foods to their diet.
The primary cause of intestinal and colon inflammation is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the same diet will not work for everyone with IBD. However, some foods may help reduce inflammation more than others.
Ultimately, a person should work with their doctor to determine which foods work best for them and which ones may cause inflammation and symptoms to worsen.
In this article, we provide suggestions for foods that may help a person reduce inflammation in their intestine or colon.
It is advisable for people with IBD to take the following measures with regard to their diet during a flare-up:
Eat less fiber
A person should cook their vegetables well. They can use fresh or frozen vegetables, including:
A person can eat canned or soft fruits, such as:
Peeling fruits and vegetables where possible will help decrease their fiber content.
A person should ensure they are eating enough protein during a flare.
Sources of protein include:
- soft and well-cooked meats, such as:
- salmon or other fish
- lean beef and pork with no added fat
- low sodium and low fat deli meats
- well-cooked eggs
- smooth nut and seed butters, including:
When symptoms worsen, a person with IBD should aim to drink 8 cups of fluids per day. However, they should avoid:
- caffeinated drinks
- sugary drinks
- drinks made with sugar substitutes
Eat less added fats
A person should choose oils over solid fats when cooking. Their intake should be fewer than 8 tablespoons per day.
Using olive oil instead of other oils or fats may help with inflammation.
University Hospitals states that a person should slowly reintroduce foods after an inflammatory flare. To do this, they can add one or two items of new food every few days.
If a food begins to cause symptoms, they should avoid it.
The following foods may be suitable for a person who has just had a flare-up of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis:
If a person has recovered from a flare of intestinal or colonic inflammation, they could eat the following foods to help keep inflammation lowered:
A person can start to eat foods that are higher in fiber when gastrointestinal symptoms have improved and it is less likely to worsen symptoms.
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Therefore, a person
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in foods such as salmon, can help reduce inflammation.
However, researchers note there is a need for additional research to determine how much of the nutrient is an effective dose.
The study goes on to suggest that omega-6 fatty acids may also help a person with ulcerative colitis who is between flares. That said, it also calls for additional research to confirm this.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
A person should opt for foods that have undergone minimal processing. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better.
Dairy and lactose products
A person can start to reintroduce dairy or lactose products provided that they do not worsen symptoms.
If a person has lactose intolerance, they should avoid dairy. Alternatively, they could eat low lactose or lactose-free products.
A person should continue to prioritize oils such as olive oil or canola oil over solid fats, such as butter.
However, at this stage, they will likely tolerate added fats better.
Among other sources, a person can consume protein in the form of:
Drink enough fluids
A person should always make sure they are drinking enough fluids throughout the day.
Dietary recommendations for people with Crohn’s disease differ somewhat from those for people with ulcerative colitis.
|Food||Crohn’s disease||Ulcerative colitis|
|fruits||increase||not enough evidence|
|vegetables||increase||not enough evidence|
|not enough evidence||decrease|
|unpasteurized dairy products||avoid where possible||avoid where possible|
|fat||decrease saturated fats|
avoid trans fats
|decrease palm oil, coconut oil, and dairy fat|
avoid trans fats
increase omega-3 fatty acids
|food additives||decrease maltodextrin||decrease maltodextrin|
People with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis should decrease their intake of the following foods:
- carrageenan, a type of thickener from seaweed
- titanium dioxide, a type of food colorant and preservative
- sulfites, a type of flavor enhancer and preservative
- carboxymethylcellulose, a type of thickener
The exact cause of the inflammation will help a doctor determine the best treatments and lifestyle changes a person can adopt to reduce inflammation in the gut.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation notes that some other changes a person can make include:
- drinking slowly and avoiding using straws
- eating 4–6 small meals per day
- staying hydrated
- keeping a food journal to track foods that may cause worsening symptoms
- cooking food using simple methods, such as grilling, steaming, boiling, or poaching
If IBD is not the cause of inflammation, a person should speak with a doctor about most suitable treatments.
Colon and intestine inflammation is often a result of IBD.
Several foods may help reduce inflammation in the gut during, after, and between flares.
A person should work with a doctor to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation and seek treatment to help prevent potential complications.