Posted in: healthy eating, inflammatory bowel disease, nutrition

Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease with diet.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract. The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. While medical treatment plays a crucial role in managing IBD symptoms, incorporating a well-balanced and nutritionally sound diet can also contribute to better disease management and overall well-being.

Signs and symptoms of Inflammatory bowel disease 

  1. A reduced appetite is related to unending nausea.
  2. Blood in stool and changes in bowel movements.
  3. Diarrhoea is a very thin stool passed over 3 times a day.
  4. Abdominal pain could be severe in some cases.
  5. Loss of weight without intention, unintentional weight.
  6. General body weakness, fatigue.

How does inflammatory bowel disease affect overall health?

A reduced appetite that is related to nausea would in most cases lead to reduced oral intake. This means that the body will not get some nutrients required for normal body functions. A reduced oral intake will definitely lead to unintentional weight loss, which can quickly escalate to malnutrition.

Malabsorption and inflammatory bowel disease can also cause nutrients not to get absorbed as they should.

There’s also going to be an increased loss of fluids, which could lead to electrolyte imbalance. Fluids can be lost during diarrhoea episodes and even in cases where there’s vomiting.

Increased nutritional needs are also expected.


This is a condition that often affects how nutrients, like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats get absorbed in the small intestines, ileum. Most foods get broken down in the stomach, and most absorption of nutrients including vitamins and minerals happens in the ileum. When the small intestines are inflamed, definitely the absorption process will be affected. This can quickly result in nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. A good example is when there is fat malabsorption, fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K absorption may be affected.

Common symptoms of malabsorption.

  • Bloating, especially due to carbohydrate malabsorption.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Chronic diarrhoea may last up to two weeks, this is mostly due to fat malabsorption.

Chronic diarrhoea and bleeding.

In people diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhoea can be very persistent. Mostly because of fat malabsorption.

Chronic diarrhoea that includes watery stool that lasts over two to four weeks can lead to loss of fluids hence electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, dry skin, and even persistent headaches.

Electrolyte imbalance can cause fatigue, irregular heartbeat, nausea, and even vomiting.

Bleeding, on the other hand, is presented through vomiting blood, and black stool that comes when bleeding from inside the digestive tract, and can lead to fainting, chest pains, and mostly abdominal pain. And in worse scenarios anaemia.

Diet changes can help when you have inflammatory bowel disease.

  1. Small frequent meals can be easily tolerated especially when you have nausea and a lack of appetite.
  2. We are talking about inflammation, we are therefore going to avoid alcohol and too much use of spices in foods we eat. Alcohol, too many spices, and even coffee can only make the inflammation worse.
  3. To prevent diarrhoea from getting severe, you will need to cut down on sugary foods like candy, carbonated sugary drinks, and energy drinks. Also drinking plenty of water will help prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  4. Eat less fatty foods, as fatty foods also will increase diarrhoea.
  5. Avoid foods and drinks that give you gas like cabbage, beans, and carbonated drinks, and find foods that will not cause bloating just until the disease is completely managed.

Other digestion-related problems.

Let us talk about constipation and diarrhoea.

  Constipation is simply having fewer bowel movements than usual. It’s associated with difficulty in passing stool and it gets even more serious when it lasts for more than three weeks.

  Diarrhoea on the other hand is passing very loose watery stool. And is also more frequent than usual. It gets very serious when it lasts for more than three days.

What causes constipation?

  1. Not drinking enough water.
  2. Being physically inactive.
  3. Eating foods low in Dietary fibre.
  4. Pregnancy.
  5. Certain types of medication.
  6. Digestive disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease.
  7. Cancer, of the colon especially.

Absorption of water happens in the colon, from the wastes the colon absorbs water. When your diet contains less fibre what happens is that stool passes too slowly, and then the colon gets lots of time to absorb so much water leading to a very hard stool. And can lead to complications like haemorrhoids.

What causes diarrhoea?

  1. Eating contaminated food.
  2. Food poisoning. 
  3. Certain medications.
  4. Inflammatory bowel disease.
  5. Irritable bowel syndrome.

Diarrhoea happens either because there’s reduced fluid absorption or increased secretion of fluids. And this can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Nutrition management of constipation.

  • Drink more water every day.
  • Be physically active, and do exercises often.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and foods high in fibre.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications’ side effects.
  • Get checked when symptoms persist.
  • Eat foods rich in potassium, like most fruits and vegetables, as potassium helps in muscle movement which will help when constipated.
  • Eat whole grains, the fibre from whole grains will help.
  • Drink hot cocoa.

Nutrition management of diarrhoea.

  • Prevent food poisoning as much as you can by keeping high standards of hygiene when handling food.
  • Keep hydrated to replace the fluid lost.
  • Eat fewer spices and a bland diet.
  • Eat foods with soluble fibre like bananas.
  • Don’t take too much of high insoluble fibre foods as this may make diarrhoea worse.
  • Drink soups.
  • Avoid fatty and over-spiced foods.

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