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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Bowel Disease: Changing Your Diet

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel disease. They cause inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the digestive tract camera.gif. This can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, belly pain, loss of appetite, fever, bloody stools, and weight loss. Often symptoms are worse after eating.

If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, it may be hard to get important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. Your intestines may not be able to take all the nutrients from the food you eat. You may lose nutrients through diarrhea. This can lead to problems such as anemia or low levels of vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid.

To control their symptoms, some people eat only bland foods, like pasta, and they avoid fruits and vegetables. But you need to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need for good health. This topic can help you learn more about how to eat so you can manage your symptoms but still get the nutrition you need.

Key points

  • Inflammatory bowel disease can make it hard to get the nutrients you need.
  • It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet to help you keep your weight up and stay strong.
  • Some foods can make symptoms worse. Not eating these foods may help reduce your symptoms.
  • No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Keep a food diary to find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients.
  • Because you may not be absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat, you will need to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This may be easier to do if you eat regular meals plus 2 or 3 snacks each day.
  • You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to help you get the nutrients you need.

what.gif What are some common problem foods?
why.gif Why is it important to pay attention to what you eat?
how.gif How to eat when you have inflammatory bowel disease
where.gif Where to go from here

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Other Works Consulted

  • Decher N, Krenitsky JS (2012). Medical nutrition therapy for lower gastrointestinal tract disorders. In LK Mahan et al., eds., Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13 ed., pp. 610–644. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerArvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last RevisedOctober 8, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 08, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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