Like most UC diet-related questions, the answer will probably vary by individual. However, early research suggests that orange juice and cabbage juice may be top contenders.
If you live with ulcerative colitis (UC), you likely already know that diet can play a big role in how you manage this form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
However, there’s no UC-specific diet. What causes symptoms in you may not affect another person with UC in the same way. Complicating things further, you may find that some otherwise healthy foods, like those high in fiber, aggravate your symptoms.
These types of dietary challenges have led some people with IBD to try juicing fruits and vegetables instead of eating them whole. According to a 2021 study, drinking 100% fruit juice provides you with most of the nutrients you find in whole fruit, without the fiber.
But with so many juices to choose from, how do you know which is the best juice for UC? It will likely vary from person to person, but at minimum, it should provide some nutrients and not contain a lot of added sugar. You may need to experiment with different types of juice to find the one that is best for your symptoms.
While the fiber present in fruits and vegetables provides many important health benefits, some people with UC report that fiber negatively affects their symptoms. Drinking juice may help you get some of the important nutrients in these foods without worsening your symptoms.
While there’s not enough research yet to recommend one subtype over another for people with IBD, the study authors did recommend avoiding insoluble fiber (especially when in a flare). They further suggested seeking out soluble fiber, which is present in numerous fresh fruits and vegetables, including bananas, peeled apples, and citrus fruits.
The best juice for ulcerative colitis depends on the person, but in general, it should contain soluble fiber as well as important vitamins and antioxidants.
Much of the research to date on specific juices that may help with UC has been conducted on mice or rats, so it may not translate directly to humans, but does suggest potential benefits. Here’s what we know so far:
It’s important to know that, in addition to being conducted on animals, few of the studies looked specifically at juice. Instead, many looked at the whole fruit or vegetable, so the evidence is not clear-cut. But recent studies have looked at the effect on people of ingredients in orange juice and cabbage juice, so they may be among the best juices for ulcerative colitis.
Juice often gets a bad reputation due to the sugar content present in fruit. While sugar may promote tooth decay and weight gain, the health benefits of drinking juices outweigh the risks for most people when it’s part of a healthy diet.
Some studies also show that drinking 100% juice does not increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or poor glycemic control when part of a well-balanced diet.
The key for most people is to not replace all foods with only juice or down several glasses a day, but instead to drink juice in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
But if you are living with diabetes or other metabolic conditions, you may want to ask a doctor about safely adding juice to your diet.
Juice and juice drinks are not the same thing.
A drink that is 100% juice contains only water and the juice concentrate from the fruit or vegetable. It may also contain some pulp or fiber from the fruit itself. The amount of water added will vary between juices.
A juice drink may contain some juice, but it may also contain added sugars, colors, or other ingredients. And in some cases, the juice drink may only contain fruit flavor and no actual juice.
When shopping for juice, look for “100% juice” on the label. This will help you find the best juice for ulcerative colitis.
Avoiding excess sugar is important if you’re living with UC or are at risk. A review of studies shows that sugar can increase your risk of developing UC. One study also showed that, at least in mice, it can increase bad bacteria in the gut and destroy protective mucus in the gut.
If you make homemade juice, you can create any combination of fruit and vegetable juices you like. You can also control exactly what goes into the juice.
By comparison, a lot of store-bought juices are made with a single fruit, like apple, cranberry, or orange. They can also cost more than making your own at home.
If you make juice at home, the equipment you use can affect the nutritional value. In a 2020 study, researchers compared the differences between three juicing techniques for vegetables. They compared:
Not surprisingly, blenders pulverized the vegetables while retaining the pulp and fiber with the juice. This may not be good if fiber irritates your UC symptoms.
Both the high and low speed juicers remove the pulp and fiber, but the low speed juice extractors preserved the most nutrients. The high speed centrifugal juicers destroyed some nutrients, perhaps because the method creates some heat.
Still, the researchers noted that each type of juicing can provide different benefits. If you’re living with UC, you’ll probably want to use a juicer that takes out the pulp if fiber is an issue for you. Be aware, however, that the cost of juicers can vary widely, so consider your budget when deciding if home juicing is for you.
Juice can help you get the nutrients of fruits and vegetables while avoiding the potentially irritating effects of fiber on your UC. Some juices provide nutrients that may also help with inflammation and improve overall gut health.
When looking for juice, check the label for “100% juice” or no added sugar. Or, you can make your own juice at home. Adding either in moderation to a well-balanced diet can help you get needed nutrients and may also help you feel a bit better.
Medically reviewed on May 18, 2023
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