5 tips on living with ulcerative colitis

Written by: Dr Carlo Nunes
Published: | Updated: 24/01/2024
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes the colon and rectum to become inflamed. Symptoms include small ulcers, frequent diarrhoea and stomach aches. It is a long-term condition which requires careful management and although specific foods do not cause colitis, they can cause flare ups. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to keep ulcerative colitis and its symptoms under control. We invited highly respected consultant physician and gastroenterologist Dr Carlo Nunes to share his expert insight for patients living with ulcerative colitis. 


Eat small meals

Eating smaller meals more frequently helps to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Five or six meals, rather than the typical three is recommended. This is easier to manage for the digestive system as less strain is placed on it.


Keep a food diary

Certain foods will cause flare ups and each person is affected differently. Keeping a detailed record of what you have eaten will help you to identify the foods you need to avoid and allow you to eliminate them from your diet.


Drink plenty of fluids

Due to frequent diarrhoea it’s easy to become dehydrated when you have ulcerative colitis, a high intake of water is essential to combat this. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen diarrhoea and fizzy drinks can cause flatulence, so it's best to avoid all three.


Eat a low-fibre diet during flare-ups

Temporarily eating a low-fibre diet during a flare up can help to reduce symptoms as they reduce the amount and the frequency of the stools you pass. Recommended foods which form this diet include: white bread, refined breakfast cereals (such as cornflakes), white rice, pasta and noodles, cooked vegetables (without peel, seeds or stalks), lean meat and fish and eggs.


Relieve stress

The brain and digestive system are inextricably linked and there is a constant two-way exchange of information between them. It is therefore of no surprise that stress affects digestion and can exacerbate symptoms of colitis. Successfully managing stress levels plays an important role in reducing the symptoms. Exercise and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, are just a few beneficial activities that may help you to achieve this.


If you are would like to schedule a consultation with Dr Nunes, you can do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile. 

By Dr Carlo Nunes

Dr Carlo Nunes is a consultant physician and gastroenterologist based in Canterbury and Margate, who specialises in bowel cancer screening, indigestion (dyspepsia) and acid reflux, alongside capsule endoscopy, gastroscopy and colonoscopy. He privately practises at The Chaucer Hospital and Spencer Private Hospital, while his NHS base is East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Nunes is highly qualified, with an MBChB from the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa, and a FRCP in Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians (London). He also underwent basic medical and specialist training in gastroenterology and general medicine in the South Thames rotation. 

Here, he spent a period of four years at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital where he undertook a period of research with King's College London in oral Crohn's disease, orofacial granulomatosis and inflammatory bowel disease. He gained extensive experience in both upper and lower GI diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy, and completed his specialist training in gastroenterology and general medicine in 2008. 

This led him to develop a special interest in inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and general luminal gastroenterology, and he treats all gastroenterological conditions. He is also a nationally-accredited bowel cancer screening colonoscopist, and has developed a special interest in bowel cancer and advanced therapeutic endoscopy. Furthermore, he provides a small bowel capsule endoscopy service for the investigation of small bowel disease such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.  

Dr Nunes is a respected clinical academic and is a lecturer for London colonoscopy training courses at St George's Hospital. His research has also been published in various peer-reviewed journals and he is a member of professional organisations including the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), Royal College of Physicians (London) and the General Medical Council (GMC). He is also a member of the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

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