Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and cramping in the abdominal region, and it occurs mostly after ingesting certain foods. Together with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis is known as a "pooping disease" because it often results in unexpected trips to the bathroom. It's also a difficult research area for many scientists, as they haven't quite been able to determine exactly what causes it to develop, although many factors have been identified. Find out ten causes of ulcerative colitis.

Whole Grain Food

Not all food types cause a flare-up of symptoms, but certain foods can increase the risk of experiencing pain and other symptoms. One of the most irritating foods for ulcerative colitis patients is whole grain foods, which contain high amounts of fiber, therefore potentially irritating the lining of the stomach. The problem with whole grain foods is that the germ or bran hasn't been removed, which increases the stomach's workload. Foods such as bread, cereals, and pasta should be kept to a minimum, if not completely removed from the diet. Drink plenty of water afterward to ensure proper digestion.

A photo of whole grain food



Multiple studies have pinpointed alcohol as one of the most influential risk factors in ulcerative colitis. Aside from the other dangerous effects of alcohol, it can also cause trouble for the stomach. Alcohol can irritate the stomach, increasing inflammation and leading to symptoms such as irritation and pain. Diarrhea is also frequent. Spirits, beers, and wine all have the potential to improve symptoms, so you should aim to cut down on alcohol consumption significantly. It's important to mention that not all individuals respond the same way to alcohol, and some people may consume small amounts.

A man holding a glass of beer



Sulfate is an essential element without which our bodies wouldn't function. It is vital for many bodily processes, including hormone secretion. In some cases, however, sulfate can cause problems to arise, especially because it can lead to abnormal amounts of gas. A correct balance of intestinal bacteria ensures proper digestive health, but if an imbalance develops, excessive quantities of gas are usually one of the main symptoms. Sulfate is mostly found in foods such as red meats and other proteins. Try to cut down on consumption of red meat, and see if symptoms improve.




Just like whole grain foods, seeds have the potential of causing a range of symptoms to develop in ulcerative colitis patients. Seeds are for the most part an insoluble fiber, meaning that they are difficult to digest. This can cause irritation and inflammation, as well as bloat. In some cases, diarrhea may occur. Moreover, seeds can get stuck in the intestinal lining, further worsening symptoms. There are a variety of seed types, the most damaging of which is sesame seeds and flax seeds. If the seeds have been soaked, digestion may be easier.

A male hand grabbing a spoonful of sesame seeds in a bowl and various seeds in the background


Immune System Malfunction

An important factor in overall health is the condition and strength of the immune system. This crucial factor may lead to ulcerative colitis, and in some cases may be a cause of symptoms. If the immune system isn't working properly or has become debilitated, then invading bacteria and foreign substances may cause a reaction that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells. This may lead to different symptoms, including pain and irritation. It's important also to be aware of family history and heredity, which may increase the risk of ulcerative colitis.



Where You Live

Some factors are beyond one's control, for example, the place we are born. This may very well be incidental when it comes to ulcerative colitis because it affects our immediate surroundings. In other words, location determines the amount of pollution your body is exposed to, as well as other variables like temperature and resources. Studies have shown that people who live in more northern latitudes have an increased risk of developing ulcerative colitis, both in Europe and North America. The presence of certain pollutants and dietary factors are also important in this regard.

shutterstock_317647181 2


Dairy Products

A potential cause of ulcerative colitis is dairy products. The amount of cheese, milk, yogurt and other similar products that you consume may be linked to higher rates of ulcerative colitis. That's why many ulcerative colitis patients cannot eat dairy products, or can only consume a limited amount of them. To see if milk products increase your symptoms, remove all lactose-containing products from your diet for at least a month, and see if symptoms improve. Furthermore, you should contact your doctor if you suspect being allergic to dairy. Luckily, plenty of substitutes exist, including soy milk.

A woman having a stomach ache with a glass of milk in front of her


Certain Medication

One of your first responses, when you feel pain is to take pain medication, including NSAIDs, which can help reduce discomfort. While these may be effective in the short-term, taking them repeatedly may cause symptoms to worsen. That's why ulcerative colitis patients should avoid certain medications. Generally, over the counter NSAIDs aren't an adequate remedy for ulcerative colitis. Continuous use may also lead to liver damage, among other things. However, there is a range of other alternatives that you can discuss with your doctor or your pharmacist.



Brown Rice

Food lovers will be disappointed to find out that brown rice may be a major cause of ulcerative colitis. Consumed throughout the world, and especially in Asian cultures, brown rice is an important staple food. It's considered a whole grain and contains a considerable degree of fiber, most of which is insoluble, making it difficult to digest. This can cause discomfort and trigger symptoms ranging from bloating to bloody diarrhea. There are various types of brown rice including quinoa and buckwheat. Other derivatives should also be avoided. Try consuming rice that is easier to digest like white rice or long grain rice.

Woman holding a heap of brown rice over a white bowl



Many causes of ulcerative colitis can be controlled, such as diet and digestive health. However, other variables may be harder to prevent including genetic factors. Genetic factors are an inherent part of us and largely define our health. For some people, their genes may make them more likely to develop conditions of the digestive tract, including ulcerative colitis. Identical twins, for example, have a higher risk of suffering from this disease. Certain ethnicities may also be more likely to get ulcerative colitis. If you experience symptoms of the digestive system, contact your doctor to find out the cause.



Popular Now on Facty Health


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.