There are no guaranteed preventive measures for avoiding ulcerative colitis, since the exact cause behind this disease is still undetermined. However, you should still do your best to keep this illness from occurring, especially if inflammatory bowel disease runs in your family.
So far, researchers have concluded that ulcerative colitis may be the result of an interaction between heredity, immune system and unknown environmental factors. Knowing what these possible triggers are may help you lower your risk of acquiring this disease. If you’re already diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, don’t lose hope because its symptoms may still be managed through a few holistic strategies.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Ulcerative Colitis Flare-ups
Adopting a healthy lifestyle not only improves your wellbeing but also helps lower your risk of ulcerative colitis. If you’re an ulcerative colitis patient, these lifestyle changes, along with the treatment plan from your physician, may also help you manage the symptoms of your condition more effectively. Here are some of the holistic approaches that you may try:1,2
• Manage stress: Although stress itself does not cause ulcerative colitis, it’s found to be one of the possible triggers of gastrointestinal problems since it disrupts healthy gut flora and affects the digestive process. If not managed well, chronic stress may weaken the immune system and cause inflammation.3
Be sure to manage your stress properly to avoid serious health problems. Take a break from your usual stressors from time to time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Meditation, yoga and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are also great ways to release emotional and physical stress.4
• Pay attention to what you eat: Certain foods may trigger ulcerative colitis flare-ups and worsen its symptoms. Some of these include dairy products, processed foods, carbonated drinks and alcohol. In general, it’s best to avoid processed foods that contain artificial flavors, preservatives and high amounts of sugar and gluten since they may wreak havoc on your gut.5
• Keep your body hydrated: Your large intestine needs to be hydrated in order to work properly, so be sure to drink plenty of water. If you’re experiencing diarrhea due to ulcerative colitis, then you should drink as much water as you can to keep your body from becoming dehydrated.
• Exercise regularly: Regular exercise may help prevent ulcerative colitis flare-up by boosting the immune system and lowering the risk of inflammation.6 It may also lower the risk of complications associated with this disease, including low bone density, weak muscles and inflamed joints.
However, make sure that you don’t overwork your body. Talk to your doctor to find out the best workout routine for your condition.7
• Increase your vitamin D levels: Studies have shown that high vitamin D levels help reduce the risk of ulcerative colitis due to its positive impact on the immune system. It also decreases the risk of relapse for patients suffering from this disease.8,9,10
You can increase your vitamin D intake through sun exposure and by consuming foods that are rich in this nutrient. Taking vitamin D3 supplement is also a good option.
Don’t Hesitate to Talk About Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition that may cause great anxiety and stress. Some people may even feel embarrassed to talk about it. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms that are associated with this disease, be sure to consult a physician immediately to find out how it’s treated and to keep it from taking a turn for the worse.
Controlling the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and trying to maintain it in remission can be really difficult, especially if you’re dealing with it on your own. Fortunately, there are hundreds of support groups for people with this disease. These groups can provide you with useful information on how to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and prevent it from flaring up once again. Don’t hesitate to seek a support group in your area, as they can give you the practical and emotional help that you need.11