While there’s no specific diet for people with microscopic colitis, eating certain foods may help with symptoms like diarrhea. You should also avoid certain foods like alcohol and caffeine.
Microscopic colitis refers to inflammation in the colon. There are two main types: collagenous and lymphocytic.
If you have collagenous colitis, a thick collagen layer has formed on the colon tissue. If you have lymphocytic colitis, it means lymphocytes have formed on colon tissue.
It’s “microscopic” because doctors must look at the tissue under a microscope to diagnose it. Microscopic colitis usually causes watery diarrhea and other digestive symptoms.
Managing symptoms like watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and fecal incontinence can be challenging. If these symptoms have become part of your everyday life, you may be searching for ways to ease your symptoms without always relying on medication.
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.
There are several ingredients that may irritate the colon. You might consider following certain diets that may help relieve your symptoms. Diet options include:
- gluten-free diet
- Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet
- Paleo diet
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
- low FODMAP diet
Beyond what to eat, staying hydrated is another part of your dietary needs. Hydration can have a big effect on how you feel.
Diarrhea also dehydrates the body, so drinking plenty of water can help replenish your fluids and help food move through the digestive tract more efficiently.
Eating foods that can help relieve diarrhea may be helpful if you have microscopic colitis. These include:
- low fat dairy, such as yogurt
- plain rice, noodles, or white bread
- lean meats
- cream of wheat
- peanut butter (only smooth and a little at a time)
You should also stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids, such as broth or sports drinks containing sodium and potassium. Avoid drinks with added sugar.
Some researchers also believe that getting probiotics from a concentrated, well-tested product like VSL#3 may help with symptoms. But there’s currently not enough research on microscopic colitis and probiotics to recommend it definitively.
Taking multivitamins may also be beneficial for people with nutrient malabsorption.
You may want to avoid or limit the following:
- artificial sweeteners
- gluten if you have Celiac disease
- dairy if you are lactose intolerant
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 track what symptoms accompany which foods. This can help you determine which foods trigger your symptoms.
Can I eat cheese with microscopic colitis?
While some people with microscopic colitis may be able to tolerate cheese, this is a dairy food that’s not suitable for anyone who is lactose intolerant.
Dairy is also a potential allergen. Many diets you could try for this condition suggest that temporarily or permanently removing dairy can be a good idea.
Can I eat salad if I have colitis?
Salad greens and raw vegetables can irritate a sensitive gut, so you may want to choose cooked vegetables in your diet. That being said, depending on your symptoms and whether you’re having a flare, your tolerance of various foods may change.
What soup is good for colitis?
Eating soup can be great to help you avoid dehydration. However, you may want to ensure that all the raw ingredients are fully cooked. Blend the soup for easier digestion. Some days it may still be challenging to digest, depending on 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:
- medications that help stop diarrhea and block bile acids
- steroids that fight inflammation
- medications that suppress the immune system
In severe cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove a portion of your colon.
Learn more about treatments for microscopic or collagenous colitis.