What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – And How To Treat It
Like many other autoimmune conditions, inflammation is what causes ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that can result in ulcerations throughout the digestive tract. UC affects the inner lining of the large intestine and rectum, resulting in painful symptoms such as abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and joint pain.1
In some cases, UC can also lead to life-threatening complications, such as a narrowing of the intestines and swelling in the colon. Additionally, diarrhea may be severe enough to prevent the absorption of vital nutrients, leading to malnutrition and anemia. Scarring of the bile ducts and pancreas can also occur due to UC.2
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that typically starts out gradually and can worsen over time. Symptoms of this inflammatory disease range from mild to severe, but many people experience periods of remission when signs and symptoms disappear for weeks or even years at a time. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis yet; however, natural treatments can significantly reduce symptoms and lead to long-term remission.
The Link Between Ulcerative Colitis And Cancer
There is a link between ulcerative colitis and the risk of cancer development, specifically colorectal cancer. This is because chronic inflammation in the digestive tract may increase the chances of developing precancerous polyps and cancer.4
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – NLRP12 Protein-Related Inflammation
Cutting-edge studies are providing optimism for a lasting cure to ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. A 2017 study found that a protein known as NLRP12 plays an important role in regulating inflammation in the body. Analysis of the study’s twin participants revealed that those with ulcerative colitis had lower levels of NLRP12 than those without the disease.
It was also discovered that when NLRP12 levels were low there were fewer beneficial bacteria and higher levels of harmful bacteria along with inflammation. Researchers believe this could be addressed by replenishing the friendly bacteria in individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases to reduce inflammation and restore a healthy balance of gut flora, potentially providing a more permanent therapeutic solution for those suffering from ulcerative colitis.4 5
Read more about inflammation and the role it plays in many diseases.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – Genetics
Genetics is a major factor in the development of ulcerative colitis. Studies have suggested that people who develop ulcerative colitis have a genetic predisposition, meaning they are more likely to develop the condition due to their genetics. In families with several members affected by ulcerative colitis, the risk of the disease is higher.6
Ulcerative Colitis And Ferroptosis
Ferroptosis is a newly discovered form of programmed cell death that has been linked to several diseases, including ulcerative colitis (UC). Ferroptosis occurs when a cell’s iron-containing molecules become damaged, leading to an influx of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the production of toxic lipids.
This form of cell death has been linked to UC due to several factors, including the presence of ROS in the inflamed colonic mucosa, decreased iron levels in patients with UC, and increased expression of ferroptosis-associated genes. In addition, studies have demonstrated that inhibition of ferroptosis can reduce inflammation and damage in animal models of UC.7
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – Smoking
In addition to genetics, environmental triggers cause ulcerative colitis. Specifically, evidence suggests that smoking increases the risk of developing ulcerative colitis, while certain dietary patterns and lifestyle choices may also be linked to ulcerative colitis.8
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – Stress
Stress can trigger flare-ups, so it’s important to reduce and manage stress levels by engaging in physical activities such as exercise, stretching, and yoga. Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation can also help lower stress levels. Mindfulness meditation may be beneficial for managing chronic stress and anxiety.9
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis – Diet
During flare-ups, high-fiber foods are often more difficult to digest, so removing fibrous items such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables from the diet is recommended. This type of diet is known as a low-residue diet, and it can help alleviate pain, cramps, and other symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis. However, it does not reduce the inflammation caused by the disease.
People with ulcerative colitis should avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, dairy products (for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive), raw fruits and vegetables, seeds, beans, peas and legumes, dried fruits, foods that have sulfur or sulfate, high-fiber foods, nuts and crunchy nut butter, popcorn, products containing sorbitol (like sugar-free gum and candies), refined sugar, and spicy foods.
The most common foods that trigger ulcerative colitis include dairy products, fatty or fried foods, spicy foods, and alcohol. In other words, stay away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) and choose a healthier option. Studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce inflammation in people with ulcerative colitis.10
I agree that the Mediterranean diet is a far better choice than the SAD, but my Cellular Healing Diet is an even better choice as it removes unhealthy grains.
Read more about my Cellular Healing Diet.
Ulcerative Colitis And Gut Microbiota
The gut microbiota is an important factor in the development and maintenance of health. Studies have shown that individuals with UC have a different composition of their gut microbiome than those without the disease. It is thought that this alteration in gut microbiota composition leads to a disruption in the protective barrier function of the intestinal lining, allowing bacteria and toxins access to the bloodstream. This causes an inflammatory response that can damage the intestines and lead to UC symptoms.11
Ulcerative Colitis And Depression
Research suggests that people with ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk for developing depression due to disruption of the microbiota in their gut. It is believed that the changes in their gastrointestinal tract caused by inflammation from the disease can have a negative effect on the balance of bacteria, leading to an imbalance and a higher risk for depression.12
Ulcerative Colitis And Anxiety
The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in maintaining good mental health, as it produces substances that influence the body’s stress response systems. When these bacteria become imbalanced, it can lead to an increase in inflammation, which is associated with a heightened sense of fear and stress. Ulcerative colitis and anxiety often co-exist in people with a gut microbiota imbalance.13
Ulcerative Colitis Conventional Treatments
Conventional ulcerative colitis treatments generally consist of either medication or surgery. According to research conducted at Harvard Medical School, the first line of treatment is typically anti-inflammatory drugs. Two commonly prescribed medications for treating ulcerative colitis are aminosalicylates and corticosteroids, which can be effective in reducing symptoms of the condition. However, these medications also come with a range of side effects.14
In the most severe cases of ulcerative colitis, proctocolectomy (removal of the rectum and colon) may be necessary to provide a cure. However, it should be noted that this type of surgery carries significant risks and is usually only recommended if the condition cannot be adequately managed with other therapies.15
Ulcerative Colitis And Fecal Microbiota Transplantation
Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is an innovative treatment option for ulcerative colitis. FMT involves the transfer of healthy bacteria from one person’s fecal matter to another. The idea behind the procedure is that by introducing new bacterial colonies to the gut, the balance of helpful bacteria is restored and inflammation caused by ulcerative colitis can be reduced or eliminated.
In an FMT procedure, healthy fecal matter from a donor is collected and purified before being transferred into the recipient’s intestine in liquid form via colonoscopy or enema. The new bacterial colonies can help to restore a normal balance of gut bacteria, which in turn helps reduce inflammation and symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis.16
Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatments
In addition to eating well, there are a number of natural treatment options for UC. Specifically, supplements such as curcumin, ginseng, boswellia serrata, bromelain, aloe vera, and luteolin have been shown to improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis And Curcumin
Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, may offer some relief for people with ulcerative colitis. Laboratory and animal studies show that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties. In clinical trials, patients taking curcumin supplements reported reduced inflammation and improved bowel function.17
Ulcerative Colitis And Ginseng
Ginseng is an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis. One potential benefit of ginseng is its anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis. It also increases levels of interleukin-10, promotes the healing of ulcers, and reduces symptoms such as diarrhea.18
Ulcerative Colitis And Boswellia Serrata
Boswellia serrata, commonly known as Indian frankincense, is a powerful herb that has been used for centuries to treat many health conditions. Recent research has shown that it may have significant benefits in treating ulcerative colitis due to its anti-inflammatory and immune system-modulating properties.19
Ulcerative Colitis And Bromelain
Bromelain is an enzyme found in the stem and juice of pineapples. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for people with ulcerative colitis. Bromelain works by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are a type of protein involved in causing inflammation. Bromelain also helps to break down proteins that can aggravate the inflammatory response in ulcerative colitis.20
Ulcerative Colitis And Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has long been used as a traditional remedy for treating ulcerative colitis. It is thought to reduce inflammation and improve digestion, as well as provide other beneficial properties. Studies have shown that aloe vera gel may be effective in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.21
Ulcerative Colitis And Luteolin
Luteolin is a flavonoid compound found in many plant-based foods and herbs, including chamomile tea, celery, peppers, thyme, carrots, and oregano. Luteolin has shown promise as a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis.
Luteolin was able to reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of ulcerative lesions in mice with colitis. Additionally, luteolin increases antioxidant activity, reduces inflammation-causing proteins, and reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.22
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis
Now that you know what causes ulcerative colitis, namely inflammation, you can focus on reducing inflammation by eating a healthy diet and choosing natural UC treatment options like curcumin, ginseng, boswellia serrata, bromelain, aloe vera, and luteolin.
Read more about IBS here.
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