Living Well with Ulcerative Colitis: 10 Lifestyle Tips


Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. It can be painful and disruptive, negatively impacting quality of life. While there is no known cure, lifestyle changes and self-care can help manage symptoms. This article outlines 10 ulcerative colitis tips to alleviate discomfort, reduce flares, and live better.

Stay Hydrated Dehydration worsens symptoms like diarrhea, cramping, and fatigue. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids daily, including water, herbal teas, broths, and diluted juices. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks which can stimulate the colon. Track your fluid intake to ensure adequate hydration.

Follow a Nutritious Diet:

Certain foods may trigger ulcerative colitis flares, but a balanced, nutritious diet provides energy, maintains strength and health. Emphasize soft, low-fiber foods like eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, white rice and skinless poultry. Get nutrients from cooked vegetables and peeled fruits. Work with a dietitian to develop a personalized meal plan.

Exercise Regularly:

Regular moderate exercise like walking, swimming and yoga has anti-inflammatory effects and relieves stress. It may help induce remission. Start slow post-flare ups. Do light stretching to improve flexibility and core strength. Always check with your doctor before significantly increasing physical activity.

Quit Smoking:

Smoking worsens ulcerative colitis symptoms and flares. Nicotine in cigarettes promotes inflammation. Quitting leads to higher remission rates, improved response to medications and lower colon cancer risk. Ask your doctor about quit-smoking products and programs if needed. Avoid second-hand smoke exposure too.

Get Enough Sleep:

Not getting your 7-9 nightly hours of sleep prevents the body and colon from resting and repairing properly. This may trigger increased inflammation. Maintain a consistent sleep routine, avoid late-night screen time and limit daytime naps to improve sleep quality. Consider supplements like melatonin if needed.

Manage Stress:

Chronic stress alters gut immunity and bacteria leading to more inflammation and likely flares. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing and visualization. Do hobbies you enjoy to take mental breaks. Consider counseling or a support group. Being kind to yourself also reduces anxiety.

Take Medications as Prescribed:

Medications induce and maintain remission in ulcerative colitis. Common drugs include amino salicylates, steroids, immunosuppressants and biologics. Take medications regularly as prescribed by your doctor, even if feeling well, to control inflammation long-term. Promptly report any side effects.

Consider Supplements Some supplements may help manage ulcerative colitis symptoms. Probiotics restore healthy gut bacteria. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Turmeric, aloe vera, boswellia and licorice root also have anti-inflammatory effects. Check with your doctor before starting supplements in case of interactions with medications.

Keep a Symptom Journal Flare ups often happen without warning. Keeping a daily journal noting meals, stressors, bowel movements, symptoms and medications helps identify triggers. Bring the journal to doctor’s appointments to guide treatment adjustments. Digital symptom tracker mobile apps are also very helpful.

Seek Support If Needed

Ulcerative colitis can negatively impact mental health, especially when struggling to cope with a severe flare up. Seek counseling if experiencing ongoing depression or anxiety. Connect with others also living with IBD via in-person or online support groups to realize you are not alone.


While living with ulcerative colitis poses challenges, managing the disease through a few key lifestyle measures substantially improves quality of life. Stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, quit smoking, get enough sleep, reduce stress, take medications as directed, consider supplements, journal symptoms and seek support as needed. Implementing even a few of these ulcerative colitis tips helps patients live healthier and happier while keeping flares infrequent and short-lived.

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