Perhaps surprisingly, there is no clear evidence that any food directly causes or improves IBD. That said, some people with Crohn’s or Colitis find that certain foods seem to make their symptoms worse – and by reducing or adjusting the amount of fibre they eat, for example, or by cutting out wheat or dairy products, their symptoms can be improved and they can reduce the chances of a flare-up.
Some IBD sufferers find complementary and alternative medicines helpful for controlling symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating. It is hard to know whether there is a direct physical effect, or a general psychological benefit (“placebo” effect). Many of these supplements and treatments are still being researched, and although may help some people, there is no conclusive evidence that they work.
Extra vitamins or special food supplements are not usually needed by most people with UC or Crohn’s Disease. However, some people can develop specific dietary deficiencies due to difficulty absorbing particular nutrients, and supplements can be useful to correct these.
Regular exercise will improve your overall health and can help to relieve the fatigue common in IBD. Physical activity also helps to strengthen bones, which is particularly important as people with IBD have a higher than usual risk of developing osteoporosis. Some people find that yoga or relaxation exercises help them cope better with the everyday stresses of living with a long-term condition like IBD.
Everyone controls their Crohn’s/Colitis in different ways. There is no right or wrong – what works for one person might not work for another. If you do want to try any diet, alternative therapy or supplement, always consult your doctor first and do not stop any prescribed medication, even if your symptoms improve.