Microscopic colitis refers to inflammation in the colon. There are two main types: collagenous and lymphocytic. If you have collagenous colitis, it means that a thick layer of collagen has formed on colon tissue. If you have lymphocytic colitis, it means lymphocytes have formed on colon tissue.
This condition is called “microscopic” because doctors must look at tissue under a microscope to diagnose it. This condition usually causes watery diarrhea and other digestive symptoms.
Dealing with watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and fecal incontinence can be a challenge to manage. If you have microscopic colitis, these symptoms may have become part of your everyday life. And you may be searching for ways to ease your symptoms without the use of drugs.
Can eating or avoiding certain foods help? Read on to find out more about microscopic colitis and your diet.
Can my diet have an effect on my microscopic colitis?
Microscopic colitis sometimes gets better on its own. If your symptoms continue without improvement or if they worsen, your doctor may recommend dietary changes before moving on to medications and other treatments.
Ingredients that may irritate the colon include:
- artificial sweeteners
Beyond specific foods, staying hydrated is another part of your dietary needs. Keeping hydrated may have a big impact on how you feel.
Diarrhea dehydrates the body, so drinking plenty of fluids can help replenish your stores and help foods move through the digestive tract more efficiently.
Which foods should I add to my diet?
Tips to try:
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
- Add softer foods to your diet.
Soft foods that are easy to digest are usually the best choices for everyday eating. Options include:
Also, it isn’t just what you eat. How you eat can also have a big impact. Large meals might cause more bouts of diarrhea. Eating smaller meals throughout the day may help reduce this.
You should also stay hydrated. In addition to drinking water, you may also want to include:
- beverages with electrolytes
- diluted fruit juices
Daily probiotic intake from a concentrated, well-tested product like VSL#3 is recommended. A multivitamin and mineral-rich diet is also beneficial for people chronic diarrhea and nutrient malabsorption.
Which foods should I remove from my diet?
Foods to avoid:
- Beverages containing caffeine, which is an irritant
- Spicy foods, which can irritate your digestive tract
- Foods that are high in fiber or lactose
Foods that are high in fiber, gluten, or lactose may make your symptoms worse. These include:
- raw vegetables
- breads, pastas, and other starches
- dairy products, such as milk and cheese
- foods made with artificial sweeteners
Foods that are particularly spicy, fatty, or fried may also upset your digestive track even more.
You should limit or avoid beverages containing caffeine. These includes:
Feeling overwhelmed? Consider setting up an appointment with a dietitian who can help guide your food choices and suggest meal plans.
You may also consider keeping a food diary to help you keep track of what symptoms accompany which foods. This can help you determine which foods trigger your symptoms.
The bottom line
If changing your diet or discontinuing medications doesn’t ease your symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor. There are other treatments available that may ease your symptoms. These include:
- drugs that help stop diarrhea and block bile acids
- steroid drugs that fight inflammation
- medications that suppress the immune system
In severe cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove a portion of your colon.