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What is the role of dietary factors in ulcerative colitis?

Many dietary factors have been implicated in putting individuals at higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis, but none can be definitely said to cause the disease. Diets high in sugars, refined carbohydrates and fat - and low in fiber, fruits and vegetables - are more common in patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis [8]. Whether this is because they have altered their diet because of the diarrhea, or whether the composition Once ulcerative colitis is established, there is no specific diet that patients must adhere to other than a healthy, balanced diet. Many patients mistakenly restrict dairy products and fruit and vegetables in their diet, which can compound nutritional deficiencies without any reduction in the risk of disease flares. Dietary fiber needs to be reduced only during flares when diarrhea is severe. Dairy products need only be restricted in those with known lactose intolerance, which is less than 15% of patients with ulcerative colitis. A number of nutritional deficiencies can develop in patients with active disease, including iron, folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K. Thus, it is important that patients have these checked and replaced either via diet or supplements.

Contact Information

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program
Digestive Disease Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-2135