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Diet for Ischemic Colitis

By Patricia Coldiron ; Updated July 27, 2017

Ischemic colitis is the most common form of intestinal ischemia, and accounts for 1 in 1,000 hospitalizations. The disease commonly occurs after age 50, and is characterized by symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal inflammation, low grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. People suffering from ischemic colitis need an individually tailored diet that promotes digestive health and heals inflamed tissue.

Frequent meals

Small meals evenly spaced throughout the day keep calories up and minimize abdominal pain. Try small portions of high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat bread, as tolerated. Bread containing gluten may cause abdominal cramps.

Inlcude watermelon in your diet, because it is a rich in citrulline, an amino acid that promotes better circulation. Fried and fast foods trigger abdominal symptoms and should be avoided. Probiotic, or “friendly bacteria,” found in plain yogurt helps restore intestinal balance, and is easily digested.


Repeated bouts of diarrhea may result in dehydration and loss of electrolytes, so adequate fluid intake is essential. Drink eigth to ten 8-oz. glasses of water a day. Avoid beverages with caffeine such as coffee, tea, or soft drinks, as they can stimulate diarrhea.

Wheatgrass juice is beneficial for colon health. Purchase wheatgrass juice at health food stores and juice bars. You can also grow your own wheatgrass at home and make your own juice.


Lactose is a sugar in dairy products. It can cause digestive problems such as gas, cramps, and diarrhea if your small bowel cannot break down the enzyme lactase. Read labels carefully when grocery shopping, as lactose is an ingredient in some baking mixes, cereals, soups, breads, margarine, baked goods, and salad dressings. If you see whey, curds, dry milk products, or nonfat dry milk in the list of ingredients, the product contains lactose.

Kefir, which tastes like a tart yogurt drink, has beneficial yeast and probiotic bacteria that promote digestive health. The abundant supply of probiotic bacteria and yeast almost totally absorbs any remaining lactose.


When pain and inflammation flare up, a low-residue/low-fiber diet can provide relief. Eat small portions of tender meat or fish, cooked cereals, and any white bread; limit cheese to 2 oz. a day. Soft fruits like bananas and applesauce are usually well tolerated, and fresh or canned vegetables that you eat should contain no seeds.

Avoid dried and citrus fruits, raw vegetables, berries, and prune juice. Soft desserts like gelatin, ice cream, and sherbet are soothing and easy to digest.

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