As a UC sufferer, I understand the concerns associated with trying to maintain a healthy body weight while coping with symptoms, side effects of medications and post-surgery recovery time. As well as this, some people undergo months of a flare without any relief and it all seems that bit too much. On top of this, trying to live a healthy life in a constant routine seems impossible to achieve. This blog post is dedicated the hundreds of people out there who strive for simplicity, happiness and motivation. I can only speak from experience to do with this topic and I have complete months of in depth research regarding the best ways to reduce ANY symptom of UC.
- Make bland and basic choices
When it comes eating, every molecule that touches your lips seems to impact on your colon. Naturally, we who experience symptoms a lot are advised to steer clear of spicy foods, high fibre foods, most green veg and the list goes on. How did I feel when I was told this? Devastated. Who wouldn’t be? But once you accept it and get into the swing of things, you realise the pain simply isn’t worth the tasty price. Stick to boiling or baking your meat/fish and definitely avoid deep fried fatty foods. Not only does this cause inflammation of the colon, it can cripple you in pain for a few hours and fire you into a flare.
When I don’t have a flare up I do enjoy the ol’ beverage like anyone would, however I can assure you, you’ll be in that hospital bed in no time if you’re undergoing flare symptoms (i.e. rectal bleeding, dehydration, inflammation of the colon) say bonjour to the hospital bed for a week. Having said this, I have found that the main problem with having alcohol when you suffer from IBD is the sugar content. Ciders, beer and wine would actually increase your risk of a flare as opposed to spirits with low sugar levels. I would therefore encourage cordials as mixers with water instead of sugary drinks. There is a clear association between Alcohol consumption and disruption of liver and gut cells, causing an increased risk of liver failure and relapse of UC. So to sum up, you probably shouldn’t be drinking. This is a very big ask for most of the population which is why I’ve shared my round about ways above.
- Exercise – the medicine I use
Exercise not only benefits the mind, maintains weight and reduces cardiovascular complications; it also has positive effects on many IBD symptoms. It is known that a person suffering from UC is at risk of bone disorders such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Due to the inability of nutrient absorption, it is essential that we get sufficient nutrients from our diet and even supplements (Calcium, Vit D). Regular weight lifting can strengthen bones and reduce these associated risks. Feeling stronger automatically makes you feel happier and beings you one step closer to a healthier you. I enjoy exercising every day as I feel I’m not letting UC define me or debilitate me in any way. Tips for this would be limit cardio time if you have increased bowel movements. Ensure there is an accessible toilet in your gym and do push yourself. Do not let the disease make you feel weak. If you have had surgery, the situation is a lot different and you need to accept for that time you are healing and cannot work out. Simple as.
- Gut flora – your new best friend
It is known that the relationship between the microorganisms in your colon and colitis go hand in hand. If your microbiota isn’t happy, neither are you. The gut flora is diminished in patients suffering from ulcerative colitis, causing digestive problems and nutrient uptake. If you take flora altering drugs such as antibiotics, symptoms worsen causing diarrhoea, and leaves room for harmful species to grow such as C. difficile. It is a good idea to take probiotics daily especially when on a course of antibiotics or during a flare. Ensure you are getting the correct amount of nutrients and get regular blood tests done to rule out anaemia etc. Avoid trigger foods which cause a flare and see your doctor regularly.
UC = ulcerative colitis
Flare = When symptoms recur and become very uncomfortable and sometimes life threatening.
Gut flora- Microorganisms in the gut that play a role in immune protection
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