Natural Ways to Prevent Ulcerative Colitis
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Or in the case of ulcerative colitis, an ounce of prevention is worth years of worry…and pain!
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, then you know my hair has been on fire about how important and impactful natural approaches to ulcerative colitis (UC) can be.
I’ve literally read every Pubmed research study on natural approaches to UC and found some really cool stuff I want to share with you.
We all know that Benjamin Franklin had it right. It is much easier to prevent disease than to cure it. Well, the same is true for UC.
Auto-Immune Disease Can Be Prevented through Nutrition
Now, you may be thinking, UC is an auto-immune disease and we can’t prevent that. Stay with me a minute and I’ll show you how easy it can be.
Pubmed publishes research from all over the globe. With reputable research studies there are strict standards about what you can and cannot do to human subjects. For that reason, most research on UC comes from studies using mice or rats. While it isn’t the same as if we had research on humans, we can learn a lot.
Before anyone gets too upset at this concept, let me say this about studies on animals. I know that many people are completely against anything that harms an animal in any way. I get that.
I hate that animals get hurt in research. However, it is important to note that if research animals weren’t used, we would have no way of knowing how to prevent this disease. As a medical professional, and as a parent, I am grateful that we have a way to gain the knowledge that will help humans prevent ulcerative colitis and other nasty conditions.
I’m not going to go into details. Suffice it to say that thanks to the researchers and their subjects, new dietary strategies have been discovered for preventing UC.
Preventing any disease is terrific. But what if you already have the full-blown disease. Then prevention may not seem that important to you. But think about your children or grandchildren.
Through epigenetics testing we can learn if a person has the genetic predisposition to get a certain disease. But just because you have that predisposition doesn’t mean you will get it–especially if you take active steps to prevent it.
Again, think of your kids and their kids. What if they have the same genetic predisposition that you do, but through simple dietary modifications they don’t have to suffer from the illness. Still think prevention isn’t your concern? I didn’t think so.
Natural Strategies to Prevent Ulcerative Colitis
What are the nutritional strategies that can be incorporated into your diet that can help you (or your kids) from getting UC?
Vinegar appears to reduce symptoms and their severity. Vinegar increases the commensal lactic-acid producing bacteria, including Lactobacillus, Bibfidobacteria, and Enterococcus faecalis. These are all good bugs living in your gut. Getting a little vinegar in your daily diet is as easy as adding a delicious vinaigrette to your salad.
Another tasty preventive approach to UC is garlic. Garlic can be added to just about any dish. I put slices of raw garlic in meat before roasting. I put fermented garlic on my salads. I saute garlic for sauces. I pretty much use garlic every day. Now you have a good reason to use it, too.
Korean black raspberry, rubus coreanus, is another powerhouse in the treatment and prevention of UC because of its amazing phytonutrient content. Experts say the unripe berry has the greatest nutrient content. This is sold as a powder to be added to water or in capsule form. The black raspberry was able to protect the cells within the colon. Not only that, it also suppressed inflammatory compounds! That is powerful stuff.
You can read more about how to use black raspberry in this article. If you decide to look for this powder, be sure to look for the same species of plant used in research, rubus coreanus.
Another new therapeutic approach to prevent ulcerative colitis is taking American ginseng as a supplement. At about 58 mg per day, American ginseng has been found to prevent AND treat ulcerative colitis.
Please note, as much as I love natural supplements, never let a supplement replace real food. Keep eating blue berries, red raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and more!
Fruits that Help Prevent Ulcerative Colitis
There are other delicious fruits that prevent disease in the colon. Some of my favorite are mango and pomegranate. The polyphenols naturally occurring in the fruits inhibit pathways that may lead to cancer and can protect from ulcerative colitis.
One of my favorite breakfast foods in the summer is a mango smoothie made with coconut milk, a squeeze of honey, and a scoop of protein powder blended to an ice cream like consistency. If you have UC and can tolerate whey protein, that would be your best powder as whey has shown to be very healing and increases Bifidobacteria, an important beneficial bacteria living in our gut.
As a functional nutritionist I get very excited that eating tasty foods prevents disease. In this case, we can use food as medicine and prevent not only UC, but also general inflammation, and other conditions like heart disease.
Next time, I’ll be sharing natural supplements and foods that have demonstrated healing properties for UC.
In the meantime, enjoy berry and mango smoothies for breakfast or lunch and get the garlic cooking for dinner.
To Your Health!
Shen, F, et al. “Vinegar Treatment Prevents the Development of Murine Experimental Colitis via Inhibition of Inflammation and Apoptosis.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26795553/.
El-Halawany, Nermine, et al. “L-ARGININE AUGMENTS THE ANTIOXIDANT EFFECT OF GARLIC AGAINST ACETIC ACID INDUCED ULCERATIVE COLITIS IN RATS.” Academia.edu, Oct. 2009, www.academia.edu/3206576/.
Shin, JS, et al. “Anti-Inflammatory Effect of a Standardized Triterpenoid-Rich Fraction Isolated from Rubus Coreanus on Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Acute Colitis in Mice and LPS-Induced Macrophages.” J Ethnopharmacol, 30 Oct. 2014.
Kim, H., Banerjee, N., Ivanov, I., Pfent, C., Prudhomme, K., Bisson, W., . . . Mertens-Talcott, S. (2016, March 29). Comparison of anti-inflammatory mechanisms of mango (Mangifera Indica L.) and pomegranate (Punica Granatum L.) in a preclinical model of colitis. Retrieved September 11, 2018, from https://www.pubfacts.com/author/Susanne+Mertens-Talcott
Uchida, M., et al. “Characteristic of Milk Whey Culture with Propionibacterium Freudenreichii ET-3 and Its Application to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Therapy.” SpringerLink, Springer, Dordrecht, 15 June 2007, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10787-007-1557-5.
Jin, Yu, et al. “American Ginseng Suppresses Colitis through p53-Mediated Apoptosis of Inflammatory Cells.” Cancer Prevention Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 Mar. 2010, cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/3/3/339.