Prevent Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

Ulcerative colitis cannot be prevented, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Dietary changes, including avoiding certain foods (e.g., dairy products, cabbage, broccoli, beans, spicy foods) and increasing dietary fiber, may help in some cases. Other foods that may increase ulcerative colitis symptoms include raw fruits, popcorn, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and soda.

Patients who have ulcerative colitis should eat small, frequent meals. If the condition is active, bland, soft foods may cause less discomfort. Patients should also be sure to drink plenty of liquids, especially water. A daily multivitamin may be helpful, as colitis interferes with proper absorption of nutrients. Patients should consult a nutritionist or dietician if food restrictions or limitations become difficult to manage.

Although stress does not cause ulcerative colitis, it does have a proven effect on the digestive system. High stress levels can cause the stomach to empty more slowly and produce more acid.

Ulcerative colitis can cause emotional problems—the need to constantly use the bathroom can lead to anxiety, embarrassment, social isolation, and eventually depression. Patients who feel that they may be depressed should seek counseling or contact a health care provider.

Exercise, even mild exercise such as walking, can help reduce stress. Biofeedback techniques, yoga, meditation, and hypnosis can be used to reduce muscle tension and slow heart rate. Engaging in enjoyable activities, such as reading, music, or a warm bath at night, can help reduce stress and relieve symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 04 Mar 2008

Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015