Pouchitis - ten non-medical ways of avoiding and fighting it

Pouchitis is a condition that all people with an ileoanal anastomosis or pull-through surgery will suffer from time to time. It is basically a painful inflammation of the inner pouch, can occur at anytime. The standard medical way of dealing with it is antibiotics, mostly Flaggyl.

Over the past 15 years, I have taken a totally different approach, the natural way. Here is a compilation of what I have learned so far.

Note: I have added a new page that outlines new things I have learned since writing this piece. This does not invalidate anything on this page, I still believe the following ten points will help to keep your intestine in good working order, thereby reducing the risk of getting Pouchitis.

1. It is better to avoid than to fight pouchitis
In my experience, Pouchitis is definitely triggered by behaviour, mainly poor choices in diet. Specifically, for my own body, this condition seems to be caused mostly by sugar, wheat, and to a lesser degree dairy products. If I eat or drink too much of these foods, for too long, I get Pouchitis. The amount of these foods consumed has a definite effect on how quickly I get it, but the length of time that these foods are eaten on consecutive days also has a measurable effect. The intestine has it's own defences, and it can well fight off Pouchitis if it is given enough time to recover without offending foods.
The list of foods that trigger this might be different for you, but the three that I have listed are definitely mentioned frequently in connection to this disease.

2. The earlier you fight it, the better
Pouchitis gets worse the longer it is allowed to exist. As soon as you become aware of having this condition, you need to react, and change your diet and lifestyle to make sure you do nothing to help it along.

3. Anti parasite cleansers
If you become aware that Pouchitis has made a home in your intestine, a few days of anti parasite cleansers. Basically these are pills that contain different types of spices and other natural compounds that are known to fight parasites in your intestine, and in my own experience are also excellent in keeping Pouchitis under control.

4. Make sure that food does not stay long in your pouch
Especially when having consumed those no-no foods, it is best to make sure they don't say long inside of you to give them minimum time to do damage. So make sure you visit the washroom not just when it is convenient, but when you feel that there is something there. Remember, your small intestine, which is what your internal pouch is made from, it not really meant to hold such matter, it is meant to absorb nutrients from it while it passes through.

5. Keep your intestine working
Talking regular walks for at least 1/2 hour every few days (an hour every day would be perfect) is a wonderful way of keeping your intestine healthy. The activity of walking is very helpful in making sure your intestine is transporting wastes along. Prolonged periods of sitting can at times bring your intestine to a complete standstill. In one of my other articles, I found that sitting in an airplane for a prolonged period (7 hours) was especially bad for this. Should you have to sit for this long, make sure you take a really long walk right after to make sure things are once again moving. When I am saying a long walk, I am talking about at least two hours. I will personally walk for four hours if I can. As well, the method of walking has an effect on how well it works. Hiking in mountains or hills works especially well, better than on a flat path.

6. Listen to your body
Your intestine will actually let you know which foods it does not like. One such food for me is eggs, or more specifically the yellow of the egg. If I eat those, within two hours I will have to go to the bathroom rather urgently. I have noticed the same thing about foods that are deep-fried, especially potato chips. In fact, any foods that are filled with certain types of oils seem to be bad for me. This is my body telling me "I don't like this stuff, get it out of me NOW!" Your body is trying to talk to you, start listening to it.

7. Avoid stress
My own experience tells me that when I am in high stress situations, my natural defences suffer, and my immune system is not as effective as when I am relaxed, calm, on control. Avoiding stress is generally a good idea, but it also has an effect on Pouchitis, and your intestine's natural abilities of fighting it off.

8. Eat foods rich in fibre
Much of the battle to keep pouchitis under control is to keep your intestine in top shape. Walking is good for this, but so is eating foods that are rich in fibre. I find that eating rolled oats, not the quick cook variety but the traditional style, is very good. It seems that my intestine enjoys such a workout once in a while, but it is not something I do on a daily basis. It is better to alternate these foods. Selecting the right type of food for this purpose is easy, just eat them and see what your body tells you.

9. Intestines need iron to keep healthy
The Intestine needs iron to rebuild it's lining. Foods that are rich in Iron are a fantastic way to get this mineral into your body, better than pills. Actually, I once tried to use pills to do the same thing, and was tested for iron in my blood stream before and after a three month of taking the strongest iron pills on the market, with absolutely no effect.
One of the most effective ways I have found to replenish my iron stores is spinach juice. I have a special recipe that I use that I find very effective: Talk one to two cups of fresh spinach, one apple, three large carrots, and one lemon. Use a juicer to extract a drink form these ingredients that looks horrible but tastes quite good. You can also add celery, beats, or oranges for taste. The lemon is very important because Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. You don't want to add to many sweet fruits to this because of the sugar content. If you have run really low on iron, then an iron injection might be a good idea, but of course you need a doctor or nurse to do that for you. My personal preference is IV iron injections which you don't feel at all. IM (Intramuscular) Iron injections hurt like hell, especially if they are given badly. But most doctors don't want to give IV injections, so you might be stuck with IM. Best to never let your stores drop low enough for you to need them. Since I have cut wheat out of my diet, I don't need them anymore.

10. Eat the right foods
Contrary to what other colitis pages might tell you, I have personally had some great results with spicy foods, like jalapenos peppers. Keep in mind that this is not something you want to do every day, just once in a while to 'clean things out' that might have settled in.
I also have very good results with just regular white rice, which seems to be my carbohydrate of choice. Sushi is a food that I both love, as well as find that it has a positive effect on me intestine health. Tea, especially green tea as well as peppermint tea is good for me as well. I avoid any type of pop whenever I can, and even fruit juices are frequently too high in sugar.

Everyone's body is different in terms of health and nutrition. Things that work for one person might not necessarily work for another. The important thing is that you find out what works for you, and find out what is not good for you, and live accordingly. I find that, by following a moderate diet, my occurrences of pouchitis have decreased substantially, and my dependency as well as the frequency with which I need to resort to medical cures has dropped significantly. As well, my overall health has increased substantially and I feel better and have more energy. I hope I can help you do the same.

... some time passes, it is now the fall of 2007, and I have learned some new things about Pouchitis:
Pouchitis and Candida - Cure and avoid this painful condition

Living with(out) Ulcerative Colitis, a new hope ...
Living with Ulcerative Colitis - Details of the pull-through surgery
Ulcerative Colitis Medicine - Cure or just Masking Symptoms

For more interaction check out ... My Colitis / IBD / Pouchitis Blog


Disclaimer: These as well as all the other documents on this website are based on my own personal experiences, and are not a replacement of a professional opinion by a qualified physician, for all that this was worth in my case. The purpose of sharing my experiences with you is to help you get through this, and to learn of other ways of dealing with your condition. I am not a medical doctor, I don't have any sort of formal training in this or any other medical field. The only thing I can offer you is what it was like for the past 20 years and what it is like now, and in the future. Any advice I give is to be taken into consideration, and you are welcome to act upon it at your own risk. I am not saying it will help you, or that it will not hurt you, all I am saying is that this is what I learned, and I am wanting to share it with you. After that, you have my best wishes for success and happiness. And if you find something that works for you, please, share it with the world, because we need to know more than what modern medicine is telling us, which is not enough. Be well.
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