Don't suffer quietly—take control of your health.

In 2011, I started having a lot of gut issues. I had symptoms (that you really don’t want to talk about with anyone), and hoped they’d go away. They didn’t. After a colonoscopy, I was diagnosed with moderate ulcerative colitis (UC). Around 1 million people have UC in the United States, and so many suffer quietly. There’s no cure for UC, but there are several different medications that may or may not help you find remission. Doing nothing, however, is not an option. Here are some tips I’ve learned to help live with this condition:

Take your health into your own hands

First things first, see a doctor! Tell your doctor what is really going on. Don’t hold back—my gastroenterologist chose his specialty because he, too, has UC. If you don’t tell them everything that's going on, they won’t know how to diagnose or what drugs you might need. Advocate for yourself. 

Limit alcohol

When you have a flare-up, limit alcohol. The same goes for super spicy foods. Anything that would burn an open wound will irritate an ulcer in your intestine. Grain alcohol is more irritating than beer or wine.

Avoid flare-up foods

When you have a flare-up, eat easy to digest foods. White foods are easily digestible (i.e., rice, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, etc.). Red meat, vegetables, and grainy fiber foods are not easy to digest, however.

No popcorn

Gotta give up that popcorn. The hulls on popcorn have caused many a person extra gut distress and those undigestible insoluble fiber little hulls can scratch the colon lining or get stuck in an ulcer and never leave, causing infections. Try Chex Mix or pretzels instead if you need a movie snack!

Avoid seeds

Sesame seeds, strawberry seeds, chia seeds—all tiny and hard—can easily aggravate an ulcer and get stuck in one. 

Soothing beverages

Kefir milk, aloe vera juice, and coconut milk are all-known natural soothers of UC, plus they're good for you! Kefir milk is also a probiotic.

Take a probiotic

Take a probiotic with at least 10 billion live cells. Even if you don’t have UC, a probiotic promotes gut health, which in turn promotes better overall health. Yogurt with live cultures is also a good food choice when you have UC.

Limit stress 

Stress is one of the biggest agitators of UC. Getting enough exercise and sleep helps alleviate stress. Take a hot bath. Take a nap if you need one. 

Living with Ulcerative Colitis? What tips do you have? Let us know in the comments.