11 Tips to Prevent an Ulcerative Colitis Flare
Please note: This article outlines 11 tips to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare, and is based on one patient’s experience. Nothing in this article is meant to replace any advice you have received from your doctor. This article was contributed by Ms. Wanni Z. Below is her story.
Every day during remission I am thankful. I remind myself constantly that I should not take it for granted. I feel that it’s important to never forget that there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis (UC). Even during periods of remission, we still need to take daily measures to ensure that we prevent any potential flare-ups. That being said, here are some key points I have learned that have helped my body over the last few years, I hope this will help others out there! Keep reading for some tips to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare:
1. Get Enough Sleep
The first tip to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare-up is to ensure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is the #1 most important stress reliever for me. After a full night of restorative sleep, I feel that my body can repair itself properly and recharge. I personally find it very helpful to have a consistent sleep schedule everyday and stick to it. I feel that routine is really good for my body, since it’ll know what to expect and at what time. I try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and I feel that falling asleep before optimal healing times (before around 10:30 pm) is very beneficial.
2. Identify daily stressors and put your health first
The second tip to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare-up is to ensure that you learn how to identify daily stressors so that you may eliminate them. Stressors for many people come up on a daily basis, whether it be work based, family based, or even relationship/friends based. I think that always keeping in mind that your health comes first no matter what. In other words, no issue is as important as your own health. By always keeping this in mind I find that it helps me mentally to filter things that brings stress instead of peace.
3. Make time for activities that make you happy
Tip number three to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare-up: Always make time for things that make you happy. For me, it’s dancing. I have been taking dance classes since my pre-school years and continues to do so to this day. It’s wonderful exercise, I have met amazing friends through this hobby, and it is also my favourite form of exercise. When I am in the dance studio, I forget about everything else in the world and focus on being in the present. So, whether it be dance, a sport that you love, or something as beautiful as painting, make time to feed your hobbies with your time and hopefully you will feel more fulfilled and less stressed!
4. Make sure to spend time with people who make you happy
The fourth tip to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare-up: Be with people that make you happy, promote your mental health, and who inspires you to be healthier or happier. I have learned some amazing health tips and recipes from my health-conscious friends.
5. Prevent an ulcerative colitis flare by following a diet that works for you
To prevent flare-ups, I think that all the stress management techniques combined with DIET make a huge difference for me. My amazing GI has talked to me about a diet eliminating as much sugar and refined carbs as possible. I will definitely talk more in-depth about diet and a breakdown of my diet in the future, but here are some diet based tips to help you prevent an ulcerative colitis flare
6. Stick to whole foods and as little (or none) of the processed foods
This means foods that came from the earth (vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc.) A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if the food product came from a machine, it’s better not to choose that product.
7. Make water your drink of choice
Or in my case, my only drink. Water infused with amazing things such as ginger, turmeric, lemon, etc. is amazing and very cleansing for your guts.
8. Limit intake of animal products
Especially meats/red meats. I have read in many articles that because many people have low stomach acidity and poor digestion, meats tend to rot in our guts, thus producing pus and contributing to inflammation (which is bad for people predisposed to UC). This rotting can produce more intestinal gas and overall slower digestion. I personally try to limit my meat intake to 1-2 meals per week (I am a meat lover and do love a nice steak from time to time)!
9. Limit refined carbs
This includes things like breads, pastas, cookies, cakes, etc. as much as I can. Of course, when the periodic cravings hit it’s important to satisfy some cravings, however I try not to make it a habit to include refined carbs into my meals on a regular basis. Some alternatives can be the following: instead of cereal try steel cut oatmeal, instead of rice try quinoa, instead of candy try a piece of dark chocolate. Little changes here and there will make a huge difference over time, once it becomes a lifestyle.
10. Make sure you’re getting enough probiotics and prebiotics.
Whether you take probiotics tablets, eat fermented vegetables or other fermented products, or take kefir, I personally try to intake something with probiotics and prebiotics at least a few times a week. My personal favourite is a kefir smoothie (coconut/dairy free kefir blended with fruits of your choice) – it’s an excellent combination of probiotics and prebiotics! Learn more about how to choose the right probiotics here.
11. Educate yourself on nutrition!
For example try watching “That Sugar Film” if you have access to Netflix. This documentary is amazing for showing you the many hidden places refined sugars hide in food products that most people consider “healthy” and the devastating effects sugar can have on your health, UC or not.