For several years now, people have been catching on to the trend of using probiotics to improve digestive health and even to treat more severe conditions such as IBD, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Many people purchase probiotics in capsule form and take them as a supplement, but some people incorporate probiotics into their diets by consuming yogurt, vinegar, kimchi, sour kraut and other fermented foods on a regular basis.
In the last several years, research has indicated that gut flora, or the bacteria that live in the intestinal tract, play an important role in digestive health, and several studies have revealed that people with IBD and other inflammatory intestinal conditions have a less diverse microbiome and a higher population of aggressive or “opportunistic” bacteria. This imbalance plays a role in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis. An overview of a study published on the University of Minnesota’s website in 2014 indicates that genetics may play a role in the development of this type of unbalanced microbiome.
Type of Ulcerative Colitis
Understanding Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis occurs when the delicate balance between gut bacteria and the body’s immune system is broken. Gut bacteria is essential to digestion, and most of the time, or body’s immune system does not try to fight this bacteria. However, some types of bacteria can become more aggressive and start to try to invade the tissue of the colon and try to invade other parts of the body. When this happens, the body’s immune system kicks in to fight the bacteria. This is what causes the sores, irritation and chronic inflammation along the walls of the colon, causing painful symptoms in UC patients.
Vinegar’s Effect on Ulcerative Colitis
Many studies are being conducted in an effort to understand the claims that fermented or cultured foods have a positive effect on certain digestive conditions. One such study was recently done to study the effects of vinegar on mice with ulcerative colitis. The study found that vinegar appears to suppress inflammatory proteins while supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria. At the end of the study, researchers found that the mice consuming vinegar had higher levels of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and led by Jilin University in Changchun, China.
Treating UC with Dietary Changes
If you suffer from UC or problems with your digestive health, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the role gut bacteria may play in your condition and how your diet may affect it. For additional reading, here’s a helpful article on incorporating healthy fermented foods into your diet.