Microscopic colitis

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.

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:

  • caffeine
  • artificial sweeteners
  • lactose
  • gluten

Beyond specific foods, staying hydrated is another part of your dietary needs. Keeping hydrated may have a big effect on how you feel.

Diarrhea dehydrates the body, so drinking plenty of fluids can help replenish your body and help foods move through the digestive tract more efficiently.

Tips to try:

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  3. Add softer foods to your diet.

Soft foods that are easy to digest are usually the best choices for everyday eating. Options include:

  • applesauce
  • bananas
  • melons
  • rice

Also, it isn’t just what you eat. How you eat can also have a big effect. 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
  • broth
  • diluted 100 percent 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 with chronic diarrhea and nutrient malabsorption.

Foods to avoid:

  1. Beverages containing caffeine, which is an irritant
  2. Spicy foods, which can irritate your digestive tract
  3. Foods that are high in fiber or lactose

Foods that are high in fiber, gluten, or lactose may make your symptoms worse. These include:

  • beans
  • nuts
  • 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 include:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • soda
  • alcohol

Feeling overwhelmed? Consider setting up an appointment with a dietitian who can help guide your food choices and suggest meal planning tips.

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.

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.