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The word "colitis" has several meanings. It is sometimes used to mean a syndrome of bowel irritation, also called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); more commonly, it refers to a true inflammation of some part of the intestinal tract, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Colitis, in its more benign IBS form, can be caused or exacerbated by stress, improper diet, and certain food sensitivities, such as to gluten or milk products. A transient form of colitis can be infectious in origin, as in infectious gastroenteritis (commonly called "stomach flu"). The more serious inflammatory kind (IBD) is believed to be caused by a variety of factors: hereditary, environmental, food-related, psychological, autoimmune and allergic.
Symptoms may include abdominal pain/cramping, diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Diagnosis of IBD can be made definitively through a lower GI series (using barium and X-rays), and/or colonoscopy with biopsy, where a long, flexible tube is inserted into the colon and a small biopsy taken for analysis.
Medical treatment is often difficult, consisting of "bland" diet, inflammation-reducing drugs, and as a last resort, surgical removal of the affected parts of the colon.
Prevention: There is evidence linking the ingestion of cow’s milk and cow’s milk products to colitis. This link is not limited to the well-known phenomenon of lactose intolerance, which is a very common problem-for some ethnic groups it reaches a prevalence of over 90%-where the sugar in milk, called lactose, cannot be properly digested by the body, leading to pain, bloating and diarrhea. While lactose intolerance is quite common, it does not typically cause a full-blown colitis, though it can be one of the factors predisposing to it. It is, rather, milk itself-the proteins and other constituents that comprise milk (this includes the milk used in milk products such as cheese, cream, milk powder/concentrate, etc.)-that is the source of the problem. It is best to avoid all milk and milk products if you suffer from the symptoms of colitis, even in its mild form.
Cigarette smoking can cause and exacerbate colitis. It must be avoided under all such circumstances.
Food sensitivities can exacerbate IBD. The most commonly offending foods include: milk products, gluten -containing cereals (wheat, oat, barley, rye), yeast, corn, nuts, tomatoes (and the other Nightshades: potato, eggplant and all peppers; see above under Arthritis), alcohol and chemically treated tap water (always use pure, untreated bottled water). Refined sugar should be avoided. Self-experimentation to root out offending foods is highly recommended, as each individual is unique and will have his or her own unique set of food sensitivities.
Nutritional supplementation: Nutrients that are either low in patients suffering from colitis, or that may help reduce its severity, include: vitamin A, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C, Essential Fatty Acids, and the minerals: magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and calcium. The BioSlim program may be used by people suffering from colitis with excellent results. Of course, the attention of a personal physician is essential.
One other supplement that may be very helpful is friendly bowel flora, which are the normal, beneficial bacteria that usually populate the intestinal tract by the billions. These " friendly bacteria" help digest food in the gut, actually synthesize certain vitamins, and in general keep things moving along healthfully in the digestive tract. They are essential to health. Without them, you would soon waste away, and probably die of malnutrition and bowel dysfunction. In colitis and other disease states, as well as after any course of antibiotics, the population of these friendly bacteria may be greatly altered. Replenishing these bacteria can do wonders for the health of anyone suffering from this kind of imbalance. Supplementation with friendly flora is recommended whenever antibiotics are prescribed, and as adjuvant nutritional supplementation in cases of colitis or other gastrointestinal disturbances. These supplements are usually called lactobacillus (a general term for the most common form of these friendly bacteria), or acidophilus (a form of lactobacillus).