How Probiotics Can Help Lessen Symptoms for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis

They are not a cure, but probiotics and prebiotics may lessen symptoms including gas, bloating, fatigue, skin conditions, diarrhea and constipation in people with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

“Gut health may be off in people suffering from Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis due to chronic use of antibiotics, stress of the condition and an altered diet associated with irritable bowel,” said Jan Dowell, MS, MHS, RDN, CSSD, bariatric clinical dietitian with Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center. “Foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics provide nutrients to help nourish the gut lining and restore those nutrients that haven’t been well absorbed during a flare-up or chronic dietary restriction.”

  • Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, pickles, beets or carrots, sour cream, plain buttermilk with live and active cultures as well as supplements.
  • Prebiotics are fiber-rich foods that complement probiotics. Prebiotic foods may include asparagus, avocado, banana, eggplant, garlic, honey, legumes, whole grains and yogurt.

Dowell cautioned that although supplements are widely available, they are not well regulated. “Always discuss taking any supplements with your healthcare provider first,” she said.

If you have questions about how diet, nutrition and the use of probiotics or prebiotics might be helpful in lessening symptoms of Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, talk with your primary care physician or visit Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center, which offers nutrition and behavioral health support.

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