NUTRITION & EXERCISE
with Ulcerative Colitis

Man with Ulcerative Colitis exercising

Why your diet and physical activity matter.

When it comes to managing your ulcerative colitis, you and your doctor know that your treatment plan is of the utmost importance. But as part of taking care of your health, it’s also crucial to know how nutrition and exercise factor into your life with UC.

Man with Ulcerative Colitis exercising

Make Nutrition a Priority

UC can affect your body’s ability to:

Properly digest food

Absorb nutrients

This may lead to serious vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. When it comes to your diet, make sure you’re including enough calories and nutrients to keep you healthy—minimizing your risk of becoming malnourished. Work with your healthcare team to help you maintain adequate nutrition. Make healthy food choices—and avoid foods that could make your symptoms worse.

What Causes Malnutrition With UC?

Common symptoms of UC can contribute to malnutrition—in addition to intestinal inflammation. Symptoms like:

  • Severe diarrhea can cause dehydration
  • Abdominal pain and nausea may reduce your appetite
  • Rectal bleeding from ulcers can lead to iron deficiencies and anemia
  • Frequent bowel movements might cause you to cut back on eating to avoid diarrhea

Tips on Food and Symptom Flares

While there’s no evidence that what you eat actually causes UC, certain foods and drinks can aggravate your symptoms—especially during a flare-up. Keep track of what you're eating and how you feel to help you discover some foods that may worsen your symptoms. Here are some tips to start figuring out how foods might affect you:

Limit dairy

Try low-fat foods

Limit fiber (if it might be a problem food)

Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine

And here are some other dietary measures to think about when ensuring you’re getting the nutrients you need:

Eat small meals, more often
(instead of 2-3 larger ones a day)

Drink plenty of liquids
and stay hydrated

Consider multivitamins

Talk to a registered
dietitian

QUESTION FOR YOU

How long have you been diagnosed?

“I’m not diagnosed”

It’s still important to be open about symptoms you might be experiencing.

Partner with your doctor>

“Under a year”

Always stay positive and be proactive. Make sure you know the facts about your condition.

GET THE FACT SHEET>

1 to 3 years

Make the most out of every appointment with your specialist.

GET THE Doctor Discussion Guide>

“3 to 5 years”

Do you know how inflammation affects you inside the body—and impacts your symptoms?

See Inside Inflammation>

“Over 5 years”

Keep treatment conversations open with your specialist and have more productive visits.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

QUESTION FOR YOU

How often do you experience symptoms?

“Daily”

Schedule an appointment with your specialist and make the visit even more productive.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Weekly”

Have an open conversation with your specialist. Make the most of your next visit.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Monthly”

Make sure that you’re telling your doctor everything they need to know to help you.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Rarely”

Did you know that inflammation can affect you—even if you don’t have symptoms?

SEE INSIDE INFLAMMATION>

Know the basics of Crohn’s or UC

See an overview of facts on Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—all on one downloadable page.

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Why Is Exercise Important With UC?

Here are some of the benefits of physical activity when you have UC:

Improve overall health

Strengthen immune system

Reduce depression and anxiety

Maintain a healthy weight

Minimize extraintestinal (outside of the intestines) symptoms

Relieve stress

Improve psychological health

At times, it can be tough to exercise—especially if you’re experiencing a UC symptom flare. During that time, it might be best to limit exercise. You can always pick it back up when your symptoms are more controlled. Talk to your doctor about what exercises are best for you. And on days you may not feel your best, consider low-impact activities like walking or things you can do at home.

Keep in Mind: Your Mental Health Is Important, Too

When you have UC, taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. While every person copes with their emotions differently, make sure that you’re paying attention to what you need in your individual situation. Find some ways to cope emotionally with UC—and do them on your own terms.

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Stopwatch

Is it time make a personalized action plan?

See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.

Get a Restroom Request Card* and helpful info

Have a discreet way to ask for access to restricted restrooms if you have symptoms. And get updates, resources and more sent to your inbox.

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

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