What to eat to reduce gut and colon inflammation?
Inflammation of the colon and intestines can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, you may be able to control your symptoms and reduce inflammation by adding certain foods to your diet. The main cause of intestinal and colon inflammation is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a collective term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both diseases cause inflammation of the intestines. The same diet is not suitable for everyone with IBD. However, some foods may help reduce inflammation more than others. Here are some food suggestions that may help reduce inflammation in his gut or colon.
During an inflammatory flare-up
People with IBD are advised to take the following steps regarding their diet during an outbreak:
- Eat less fiber – We must favor white bread and rice with whole grains. Foods with less than 2 grams of fiber per serving are best.
- Vegetables -You must cook your vegetables well. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables, including:
- Green beans
- Mashed potatoes without skin
- Asparagus tips
- Pumpkin puree
You can eat canned fruit or berries such as:
- Peeled apples
- Ripe bananas
- Peeling fruits and vegetables when possible lowers their fiber content.
In a 2018 review of studies, researchers found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helped reduce inflammatory biomarkers.
Make sure you’re getting enough protein during a boost.
Protein sources include:
- Soft and well-cooked meat, such as:
- Salmon or other fish
- Lean beef and pork, without added fat
- Low-sodium and low-fat sausages
- Well-boiled eggs
Smooth Nut & Seed Butters including:
- sunflower seeds
As symptoms worsen, a person with IBD should aim to drink 8 cups of fluids per day. However, you must avoid:
- Caffeinated beverages
- Sugary drinks
- Beverages with sugar substitutes
Eat less added fat
For cooking, oils should be preferred to solid fats. Your consumption should be less than 8 tablespoons per day. Using olive oil instead of other oils or fats can help fight inflammation. A 2019 study reports that extra virgin olive oil may help reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and immune responses in people with IBD.
It is better to slowly reintroduce food after an inflammatory flare-up. This can be accomplished by adding a new food or two every few days. If a food starts to cause symptoms, it should be avoided.
The following foods may be appropriate for someone who has just had a flare-up of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis:
- Diluted juices
- Canned fruit
- Chicken, turkey or regular fish
- Boiled eggs
- Mashed potatoes, white rice or pasta
- White or sourdough bread
When a person has recovered from a flare-up of intestinal or colon inflammation, they can eat the following foods to keep inflammation down:
One can start eating higher-fiber foods when gastrointestinal symptoms have improved and symptoms are less likely to get worse.
According to a 2017 study, long-term avoidance of fiber may increase the risk of flare-ups in people with Crohn’s disease. Therefore, one should make sure to consume fiber between the attacks. Dietary fiber can come in the form of whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or brown rice.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon can help reduce inflammation. A 2016 review of studies shows that while omega-3 fatty acid use is not a treatment for IBD, it definitely helps reduce inflammation. However, the researchers note that more research is needed to determine how much of this nutrient constitutes an effective dose.
Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Certain vegetables (e.g. flaxseed)
- Salmon, herring, mackerel and other fatty fish
It is advisable to opt for foods that have undergone a minimum of transformations. The fewer ingredients a product has, the better.
Oils like olive oil should still be preferred over solid fats like butter. However, at this stage, the added fats are likely to be better tolerated.
- Protein can come in the form of:
- Vegetable proteins, such as soy products
Drink enough liquid
You should always make sure to drink enough liquid throughout the day. It is advisable to drink water instead of fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea.
The exact cause of the inflammation helps the doctor determine the best treatments and lifestyle changes a person can make to reduce inflammation in the gut.
Other changes can be made, including the following:
- Drink slowly and avoid using straws
- Eat 4 to 6 small meals a day
- Drink enough
- Keep a food diary to identify foods that may make symptoms worse
- Cook food using simple methods such as grilling, steaming, boiling or poaching.
What to remember
Inflammation of the colon and intestines is often the result of IBD. Several foods can help reduce gut inflammation during, after, and between flare-ups. One should work with a doctor to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation and seek treatment to avoid possible complications.
Barbalho, SM, et al. (2016). Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Really Help?
Brotherton, CS, et al. (2016). Avoiding fiber is associated with a greater risk of developing Crohn’s disease over a 6-month period.
Holt, EM, et al. (2009). Fruit and vegetable consumption and its relationship to inflammatory markers and oxidative stress in adolescents.
Hosseini, B., et al. (2018). Effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on inflammatory biomarkers and immune cell populations: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
Larussa, T., et al. (2019). Olive Tree Biophenols for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: When Bitter is Better.
Levine, A., et al. (2020). Dietary Guide from the International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases [Abstract].
Limdi, JK (2018). Dietary practices and inflammatory bowel disease.
Liu, JF., et al. (2013). The Effect of Almonds on Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Chinese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Crossover-Controlled Feeding Study [Abstract].
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information is given replace the advice of a doctor.