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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Prevention: Is It Even Possible?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Prevention: Is It Even Possible?

Inflammatory bowel disease prevention is a complicated topic. Mostly because scientists are still not quite sure what exactly causes or triggers a person to develop IBD. However, there are certainly ways to prevent IBD flare-ups to help patients keep their symptoms under control.

How to prevent IBD flare-ups

Here are 5 things to remember when it comes to preventing IBD flare-ups:

Watch what you eat

Because IBD affects your gastrointestinal or GI tract, the food that you eat can have an effect on your condition. This means that you need to avoid foods that can trigger flare-ups, or make your symptoms worse.

Here are some foods to avoid:

  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Fatty or greasy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Sugary foods

Aside from avoiding these foods, it would be a good idea to prioritize eating healthy foods. This means eating more fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and eating less processed and salty foods. Eating healthy foods helps reduce the risk of flare-ups, and also helps mitigate the symptoms of IBD.

Another important thing to note is fiber. Fiber is essential for having a healthy bowel movement, but for people with IBD, it can sometimes be a trigger food. So take note of fruits, veggies, and whole grains that are high in fiber and try to lessen consumption. You don’t need to eliminate them completely. Rather, it helps that you thoroughly cook them first.

In addition, you may want to avoid foods that cause gas and bloating such as

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Caffeine
  • Soda

In general, it is advised to avoid greasy, fried foods as well.

Eat smaller meals

Another thing that you can do to prevent IBD flare-ups would be to eat smaller meals. The reason behind this is that if you eat too much food at once, your body has a hard time digesting it. This could potentially trigger the symptoms of IBD. By eating smaller meals you also reduce the risk of stomach cramps, which is common among IBD patients.

One way of doing this is if you eat 3 meals per day, you can try breaking it up into 6 meals with a smaller serving. Ideally, each serving should be the size of your fist.

This should help reduce your symptoms, and not to mention, is also a great way to keep you fuller throughout the day.

Don’t forget your medication

Some people with IBD have been prescribed medication to help mitigate their symptoms. It would be best to follow your doctor’s orders and regularly take your medicine and in the right dosage. Missing doses can trigger flare-ups.

If you feel that your medication no longer works, or if you’re experiencing other side-effects, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it.

Avoid medications that may worsen the flare-ups such as NSAIDs. If in pain, you may take Paracetamol instead.

inflammatory bowel disease prevention

Keep stress under control

Stress is also a possible trigger of IBD. While stress in itself doesn’t cause flare-ups, it can trigger them.

The best way to deal with stress would be to take a break, especially if you’ve been working too hard. Having a hobby to take your mind off things, or practicing meditation and mindfulness can also help with keeping your stress levels in check.

If you feel that you’re unable to do it on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy for stress, and it can only improve your quality of life, not to mention lower your risk for IBD flare-ups.

Quit smoking

Lastly, if you’re a smoker, it would be best to quit as soon as possible. Smoking can increase a person’s risk of Crohn’s disease, and it also increases the risk of flare-ups.

Aside from this, smoking is a known risk factor for illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

If you find it difficult, don’t lose hope. Most people are unable to quit cold turkey. Take it slow, and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from your friends and loved ones if you’re trying to quit.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to inflammatory bowel disease prevention, determining the cause of your condition and triggers can help in developing a more appropriate treatment plan for you. Consult your doctor regarding lifestyle changes, therapies, and medication that can be taken to improve your digestive health and overall quality of life.

Learn more about Inflammatory Bowel Disease here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Managing Flares and IBD Symptoms, https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/managing-flares-brochure-final-online.pdf, Accessed December 22, 2020

Ulcerative Colitis Prevention | Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10351-ulcerative-colitis/prevention, Accessed December 22, 2020

Crohn’s Disease Prevention | Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9357-crohns-disease/prevention, Accessed December 22, 2020

Ulcerative colitis flare-ups: 5 tips to manage them – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/in-depth/ulcerative-colitis-flare-up/art-20120410, Accessed December 22, 2020

Managing Flares and IBD Symptoms, https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/managing-flares-brochure-final-online.pdf, Accessed December 22, 2020

Crohn’s Disease – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/crohns-disease-a-to-z, Accessed December 22, 2020

Living with Crohn’s disease: Recognizing and managing flares – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/living-with-crohns-disease-recognizing-and-managing-flares-2019112618410, Accessed December 22, 2020

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Medical reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Updated Dec 23, 2020
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