Creating an Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan

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Ulcerative Colitis and Stress

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Viewer Question: My son has ulcerative colitis. Could stress be responsible for his flare-ups?

Doctor's Response: The severity of symptoms in ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum) can vary depending on the location of the inflammation within the bowel and the severity of the inflammation. Doctors do not know the exact cause of ulcerative colitis. Most researchers do not believe that psychological stress is the cause of ulcerative colitis.

Nevertheless, it is known that stress may worsen the symptoms of this condition. And, it is therefore, recommended that people with ulcerative colitis practice stress-control techniques, along with eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, to help control the symptoms of the disease.

Thank you for your question.

Quick GuideUlcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ulcerative colitis introduction

If you have ulcerative colitis, you probably know which foods trigger your symptoms. The good news is there are ways of eating with ulcerative colitis that allow you to avoid the foods that aggravate your bowel condition. In addition, some new research indicates that specific nutrients in some foods may help decrease GI inflammation. That can make it easier to self-manage your illness.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a disease that affects the large intestine (the colon) and the rectum. This disease causes inflammation of the colon's inner lining and the rectal wall, which becomes red, swollen, and ulcerated.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include cramping, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Some people with ulcerative colitis suffer with poor appetite, fatigue, and anemia. Other people also have joint pain, redness, swelling, and liver problems.

Research suggests that ulcerative colitis may be an autoimmune disease. That means the body may be attacking its own healthy organs and tissues. Contrary to popular belief, neither stress nor specific foods actually cause ulcerative colitis. Yet, as you may have already found out, both stress and certain foods can aggravate GI symptoms.

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