What Is Ulcerative colitis?
Immunity building refers to any measures taken to assist and strengthen the body’s immune system to function optimally and to help ward off disease. Proper functioning is necessary for us to maintain ideal health.
The state in which the immune system is functioning sub-optimally is called immunodeficiency. Immunodeficiency states can have serious consequences e.g. predisposing to life-threatening infective diseases or cancer. Overfunctioning of the immune system is also common. Conditions in which the immune system over functions are hypersensitivity reactions or allergies, as well as autoimmune diseases (when the immune system recognises the body's cells as "foreign" and starts to attack them).
The immune system is intricately and very detailed in its design. The system is divided into innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is the body’s first defence against external factors. These include physical defence mechanisms such as skin, mucosa and cell walls, as well as scavenger immune molecules that catch foreign particles in the blood and lymphatic streams.
It is an immediate defence mechanism and non-specific. It does not adapt over time. White blood cells called macrophages and phagocytes form part of the body’s innate system. Once the innate immune system recognises a threat to the body, these cells activate a system called the complement cascade which leads to further activation of more of the immune system's cells.
The adaptive immune system is more focused and contains antibodies that are formed after exposure to specific foreign substances called antigens. Antibodies are called immunoglobulins, and lymphocytes are the cells responsible for activation of the innate immune system.
Poor diet, fatigue, stress as well as certain substances or medications can all lead to over- or underperformance of the immune system. Organs that form part of the immune systems include your spleen, tonsils/ adenoids, lymphatic system and bone marrow.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ulcerative colitis?
The commonest symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood or mucus in stools
- Severe ulcerative colitis may present with associated systemic symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Associated autoimmune systemic manifestations may include:
- Arthritis (seronegative)
- Oral aphthous ulcers
- Skin conditions such as erythema nodosum
- Inflammatory eye conditions such as uveitis
What Are The Causes Of Ulcerative colitis?
No specific cause of ulcerative colitis has yet been identified, but numerous factors are thought to play a role:
- Genetics- higher incidence of recurrence if a family member is affected. Higher rates of infection in identical twins. No specific genomic defect could be identified up to date
- Diet- Diets high in pro-inflammatory foods such as saturated fatty acids, refined starches and alcohol are suggested to have some influence in predisposing to ulcerative colitis
- Medications- Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), antibiotics and oral contraceptives may also play a contributory role.
- Stress- Emotional and life stressors may have some effect on ulcerative colitis, although no specific studies have been definitive. Stress is considered to be a trigger of acute flare-ups in existing disease, rather than a cause.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Ulcerative colitis?
- Keep a journal of your diet. Each individual has different triggers that may predispose to developing. It is important to identify your own particular triggers, as they should be avoided.
- Hydrate and replenish electrolytes. Recurrent bouts of diarrhoea may predispose to dehydration as well as electrolyte imbalances.
- Exercise helps improve general well-being, lowers inflammation and systemic side effects. Moderation should be applied, and generally, exercise during acute flare-ups is not advised.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Ulcerative colitis?
- Ulcerative colitis can take its toll on your body, and acute flare-ups may use up a lot of energy. Avoid overexertion and only participate in a mild exercise during flares.
- Life stressors may cause acute flare-ups. Do not allow stress to build up. Practice relaxation techniques. Take frequent breaks from work if possible.
- Emotional stressors are also linked to flare-ups. Consider psychotherapy to address comorbid anxiety or depression.
What Are The Best Foods For Ulcerative colitis?
- Foods high in Omega 3. They have an anti-inflammatory effect on gut lining. Fatty fish is the best source. These include salmon, tuna and mackerel.
- Foods high in probiotics- kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, cheese, sauerkraut.
- Iron rich foods if you have anaemia associated with UC. Red meats, green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, liver are good sources.
- Folate-rich foods have shown to decrease the risk of cancer associated with ulcerative colitis. Avocado, Beetroot, broccoli and chickpeas contain folate.
What Are The Worst Foods For Ulcerative colitis?
- Dried fruits
- High fibre foods (increased frequency of loose stools)
- Refined sugars
- Seeds and nuts, popcorn
What Are The Medicines For Ulcerative colitis?
What Are The Tips To Manage Ulcerative colitis?
- Turmeric has been shown to lower gut inflammation as well as lowering relapse rates.
- Acupuncture has shown some effect on reducing symptoms and improving general health.