Tips For Managing Your Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Posted By Author on April 14, 2021

Inflammatory bowel disease affects more than 1.5 million Americans, making digestive symptoms a part of their daily life. But proper nutrition and other lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing flare-ups and ensuring painful symptoms don’t keep you sidelined.

If you’re experiencing IBD symptoms, call your Charleston GI doctor today! Our experienced team treats a wide range of digestive issues, and is proud to provide a higher standard of caring to patients across the Lowcountry.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to describe disorders involving the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. There are 2 types of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While the exact cause is still unknown, IBD is thought to be the result of a defective immune system that reacts improperly to environmental triggers. These symptoms are common with both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Blood in stool
  • Unintentional weight loss

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease can involve inflammation of any part of the digestive tract, from mouth to anus – but most commonly, the small intestine. Because inflammation can extend through the intestine’s wall, patients may experience strictures (narrowing), fistulas (abnormal openings), malabsorption of nutrients and diarrhea.

Ulcerative Colitis 

Ulcerative colitis involves the inflammation of the colon or large intestine, often causing bloody diarrhea. Since inflammation does not extend through the entire intestinal wall, fistulas do not result. Like Crohn’s disease, extensive inflammation may eventually require surgery.

Diet Recommendations for IBD

An essential part of treating IBD involves nutrition and diet. Trust a qualified IBD doctor to help you determine which foods to avoid while still meeting your nutritional needs.

The following tips are recommended for managing flare-ups and unpleasant symptoms:

  • Eat a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet.
    Consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein and probiotics. High-fiber foods can cause flare-ups, so choose sources of soluble fiber that you can tolerate, such as beans, oats and barley.
  • Consume smaller, frequent  meals.
    Eating small meals at more frequent intervals can reduce the demand on your digestive tract.
  • Avoid trigger foods.
    Identify which foods worsen symptoms and avoid them in the future. For instance, those with lactose intolerance should avoid dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice cream.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated.
    Diarrhea can result in dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water. You can also drink sports drinks to replenish electrolytes, potassium and sodium.
  • Take a multivitamin or supplement.
    Your doctor may recommend vitamin or mineral supplements to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
  • Bulk up your calorie count.
    You may need to consume more calories to recover weight lost during flare-ups.

Quit Smoking to Help Your IBD

Research has revealed a link between smoking and inflammatory bowel disease, showing that smokers are more likely to suffer from Crohn’s disease than non-smokers – and more likely to relapse. IBD treatments have also proven to be less effective in smokers. Quitting smoking can help manage IBD symptoms and improve overall health.

More Questions about Living with IBD? Schedule an appointment with Charleston GI!

To learn more about IBD and how to manage it, contact your Charleston GI doctors! Our team can help provide relief – from recommending long-term lifestyle changes to managing medication side effects. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is a great resource as well, offering beneficial information about IBD and the ongoing fight to cure it.

Get in touch today to schedule an appointment. No referral needed!