There are host of digestive ailments which benefit enormously from a gluten free Paleo diet: IBS, Crohns, Celiac, diverticulitis…and ulcerative colitis. This was the condition that I was developing when I was eating my way to oblivion via grains, legumes and the like. The options presneted to me included bowel resection and mega-doses of corticosteroids…all at the ripe old age of 28!
Damien Roop has been kind enough to share his experience with Ulcerative Colitis and what a gluten free paleo diet has done for him. No drugs, no surgery, just fucking results. Sincere thanks to Damien for sharing this.
Paleo – for the first time, all over again
Robb, where do I begin? I supposed I should start at the place that will get us to the end pretty quickly and with a reasonably clear understanding of what has happened to me attending your Nutrition cert. First, let me say that I loved it! As far as all the certs go, and I have been to six of them now, this was by far the missing piece to the puzzle and the most information-dense of the lot. No dig on the others: Tucker’s gymnastics was by FAR the most fun to do; Mackenzie taught me that running is a skill (Who knew? He was right!) and this gave me the beginnings of my recovery-tracking that I use to plan my training; Rip & Burgener both are technical masters of their respective arts (and yes, I do believe that true weight lifting and oly lifting are both arts to which mastery is forever chased but seldom achieved) and no, I do not lift the same as I did before attending their Barbell & Olympic certs and never will. And let me not forget the Holy Grail, the one that started this all off for me – the level 1 trainer cert! (Ok, enough ass-kissing, hahaha – seriously though, this is a way of life).
I have Ulcerative Colitis (UC), and have had it for going on eight years now. My immune system is seriously hyperactive and has manifested its active displeasure in a dizzying array of ailments from severe pustular plantar and palmar psoriasis, which brought me out of the Marine Corps, to complete renal failure, auto-immune hepatitis, contact dermatitis (crazy reaction to neoprene and sweating), all the way to UC. None of the others remained with me (although I can still get a bad rash from hard friction and extended contact with a neoprene brace or strap) save the good ol’ Ulcerative Colitis.
Having the disease itself should be enough. However, there are many other comorbidites associated with this disease. For instance, I have a constant battle with slight anemia from blood loss, which is typical with UC. Then there is the struggle to live each day with a continually inflamed and rebuilding intestinal tract (pulling major resources there), the inability to fully absorb food (due to inflammation of the intestinal lining and the increased speed with which food makes the trip through) as well as consistently broken sleep patterns, in which I awaken about 4 to 7 times a night. My disease is said to be a “wasting disease,” yet I still am able to build muscle. What is even more amazing is that I am able to do Crossfit, which is my chosen training style and may have very well been responsible for keeping me alive!
Now here is where it starts getting good. My doctors have tried everything and I still have pretty strong flare ups and, occasionally, a really nasty relapse that puts me down hard for months (read: bed-ridden) which, incidentally, is where I began my current Crossfit journey in February of 2008. At that time, fresh from a relapse, I went straight into a Level 1 Trainer’s Certification. One just can‘t imagine how fun that was, what with this great big moon face and hump back, not to mention the brittle bone — you know, all due to the wonderful side effects from large intravenous doses of corticosteroids.
I had heard of gluten intolerance before from a particularly enlightened doc of mine, and decided to give a gluten-free diet a try. Unfortunately, that didn’t do anything for me. Oh well, worth a try, right? Low and behold, I attend your nutrition certification and what do my astonished ears hear? ALL grains, not just wheat are culprits! From your course I learn that gluten is actually dusted on all kinds of crap you wouldn’t even imagine, even deli meat and beef jerky. Why?? Because gluten is a preservative (i.e., kills bacteria and prevents food spoilage)! Also, it’s a filler and part of everything from meats, sauces, soy products, supplements and gel caps… holy crap! Oh, wait! Beans be bad too, you say! And peanuts!!!!! Oh my beloved peanut butter; how I shall miss thee! Damn lectins!!!!!
Well, you impressed me enough with your research and breadth of information that I listened to everything you had to say. When I got home Saturday night after the cert, I had an insatiable desire to learn all that I could. I stayed up until 3 am, digging around on Google Scholar, looking for everything I could find. And the next day I began the diet you preached. Now here I am into it about 2 weeks (hell of a short time). Also, let me remind you and anyone else reading this, I had gone ketogenic about a month prior to the cert so I just went Paleo-keto and from there, everything has just kind of unfolded. I have been sleeping deep enough to dream consistently (a first in years… been rare since I first got sick) and have been getting up only two to three times a night. I have been PR-ing on everything I have been doing and have energy to spare. I dropped 7 lbs, roughly, and this could not have been water weight per the keto reference earlier (been there, done that a month prior) and have to have gained some muscle, because everything is just looking larger as well as more defined (I have no reference point on lean mass prior so any numbers rendered here would be just speculation. I will provide a pic if you want, as you saw me at the cert and even my face and arms have changed). I know this all may sound nuts to someone new to, or outside of, Paleo and Crossfit – BUT – I swear this is the truth and I will submit to testing, medical verification of my illness, whatever. This works and it has changed my life. Robb, from the bottom of my heart man, I thank you, and my clients thank you. This is the real deal!
Michael Yarmolinsky says
As someone with Crohn’s Disease who also runs a forum for people affected with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, I appreciate this post a lot. I posted it on the forum. If possible, I would love to be directed to more research showing how such a diet is effective for those with IBD (to hand off to the others on the forum).
The actual paleo-diet perspective on this is pretty new…I’d say the bulk of information is rather anecdotal (like this post) but compelling. We need some folks who REALLY understand this evolutionary biology perspective on thing to construct a smart study. In the mean-time everyone has the opportunity to conduct a study of N=1.
[email protected] says
It’s funny to read something in print, and already know the story… but more especially LOVE seeing the results that are coming. (Day, what’s keto, and why haven’t you told me about this? lol)
I think there have been very MANY of us who have been affected by the Atlanta nutrition cert. I’m going to cure my lupus.
Robb — you should know, at CFNA we’re doing a 30-day Lockdown Challenge and Hard-routine following paleo. (Gym owner Travis Harkey & trainer Tony Young were at that Atl cert)
We have over 60+ people who are going to be a new data-set.
Girl, that is AWESOME! Please keep some good numbers on this and let’s do a write-up once it’s done.
Thanks for posting this. If it helps anyone or get’s the message across to even one more person then it was worth the time it took. I can’t say enough good things about you or the cert to anyone and everyone that I meet now. All of my clients are taking notice of the change. When I get my affiliate officially up and running I would love to have you here for a cert. Half or more of my clients alone would like to attend. Then there are Josh’s and Travis’s.. and Brandon’s.. you get the picture, lol!
Just let me know when you are ready and we will get you on the books. I’d love to come out.
Wow, great post. I can second all of the above points.
I’m unfortunate enough to have UC but lucky enough to have been able to turn to Robb for help.
I’m gonna put in a vote for digestive enzymes and probiotics as well. Cat naps also make a massive difference when your night-time sleep patterns are shot.
Robb knows his stuff and I owe him a lot. If there’s anybody out there with UC who CrossFits or weightlifts then please feel free to drop me a line – it’s always good to hear from people who won’t just lie there and give up when life throws something like this at them.
Great read, and I found this link from a search. I have had UC since I was 19, and I’m now 31 and taking a maintenance drug for it. The drug doesn’t work as I have frequent flares. I work out heavily and have been frequenting the CrossFit website, but I haven’t dove into it yet. It’s hard to find good food that will not make me cramp up and go 15 times a day. Milk is the drink I miss the most, although the beer is a close second…man I love Sam Adams.
Aaron Henderson says
My girlfriend, who is 25, has mild Ulcerative Cholitis and she has been taking a maintenance drug, Azacol, for 3 years. She only ever had one flair up and it was during a time of extreme stress, extreme partying, and no medical care. I’m no doctor, but somehow I don’t think this drug is necessary or even doing anything. I feel certain she can control her condition through diet alone and would like to see her weened off this drug. My feeling is that we don’t know what the lifetime effects of taking this drug are, we do know the lifetime effects of a paleo diet.
Anyway, while she has followed my lead and moved her diet more towards paleo, she is resistant/closed to the idea of coming off of her meds. So, my questions are these:
1.Do you agree with my suppositions; am I even giving her the right advice?
2. Do you know any resources on the web I could check out and show to her (she doesn’t devote much time to learning about her condition, so I try to do it for her)? She wants to see science before she goes against her doctor’s advice. (which, of course, I don’t blame her for).
3. What would your recommended course of action be for her and for me?
Well…I think your idea is sound. Many folks have modified diet and lifestyle and had complete remission of their symptoms. As to resources…THIS is a good start. It’s just a matter of if she want’s to do some tinkering and want’s her doctor to support her in this.
Recommendations? Don’t take greater ownership in this than she does. She needs to want it.
I feel you, man. I am in the same condition with my significant other. She’s been taking Azacol for about 6 years now and since than she has had to major crisis, the second one happening these last couple of months. I guess, and I have to say I know not much about UC and am not a doctor, it has also to do with the fact that she tends to stop the meds when she feels better. Then comes a lot of stress and stuff (but she doesn’t drink alcohol) so a crisis seems quite inevitable under these circumstances… she’s on cortisone pills now and needed to increase her Azacol dose… that really sucks..
I came across your log through your post on Tim Ferriss’ blog, great stuff by the way and made me think of how I can ‘get my woman into trying’, but as Aarons girlfriend, she’s not much into experiments and thinks that at least dark bread etc are good for her. She’s from a Mediterranean country so I suppose many things she eats here can be considered problematic according to your expertise. As you suggested to Aaron, she needs to want it more than I do, but man: I am living with this too so it’s simply also bothering me a lot that we have to live with the really annoying side effects of UC. Therefore, it can be really challenging on a relationship too, I’d say, if the healthy person seems to want it more than the directly affected person…
a) what is your suggestion regarding convincing her of giving it a try (as you did with the lawyer Jorge in your book), and
b) do you have an overview somewhere on which food exactly can’t be taken at all within a let’s say one month trial?
Thanks in advance for your opinion!
I was diagnosed with a mild form of uc about ten years ago. One of the best things that helped me during a flare up was drinking aloe vera juice. It is very gross but extremely worth it. It helps to heal the ulcers and decreases the pressure and pain. Pineapples are also good for helping with ulcers and decreasing inflammation. I have been fortunate that I have not had many flare ups after I got the ulcers under control. I too was taking asacol for maintenance but have stopped and rely on my diet to control the symptoms. I agree with Aaron, I didn’t like taking 9 pills a day of a single drug over a long period of time for maintenance. My doctor actually encouraged me to go on the web for more information because there is so little concrete information about the illness. I understand your girlfriend’s apprehension to go off her medicine because the flare ups are down right awful but I do think that doing research and having an open discussion with her doctor about going off the medicine would be beneficial.
ian aitken says
Hi Check out the lofflex diet set up by professor john hunter of addenbrookes Hospitalto alliviate chrohn’s. He has been working on this for years and has been battling against the drug co’s to recommend to the British health service that this disease can be cured with diet rather than meds. The trouble is there is plenty of money for drug research but little money for diet research that will eleminate the use of drugs in controlling this issue.
Honestly, not super impressed with the literature there. I think they are missing this whole piece of the puzzle called evolutionary biology.
Rob, great posting. I have been doing crossfit for about 1 month with great results. My issue is cortisteroids for Crohns along with 2 other meds. Been with Crohns since I was 17 and now 25. It has never been close to remission. Something has to give…Gonna give this Paleo Diet my best and see if it works. I really am gonna miss some foods though.
I’d be SHOCKED if you do not see a remarkable improvement in symptoms. Let me know. You will miss that other food a lot less when you are feeling better!
Hey Rob, I was directed to your site and to this article specifically through my Crossfit coaches at QC Crossfit. I have had Crohn’s since I was about 7 and I just recently turned 28. I too was on Azacol for the better part of my adolescence and while in college decided to go off of it. I have been off now for over 4 years with mostly minor flareups. I recently started Crossfit about 2 months ago and have recently been tinkering with my diet. I haven’t gone full paleo yet, but have started cleaning my diet up and taking out more sugars and carbs… and I feel great. I’m gaining weight, which hasn’t happened in over 8 years and my consistent diarrhea has gone by the wayside. We don’t know exactly what causes these diseases and I don’t know that diet is a cure… but it certainly seems to help. I’ll be doing more research and trying to go more paleo… until then thank you.
Robb Wolf says
Good to hear. Keep me posted and please do try the full-tilt paleo gig. It has helped a ton of folks with UC.
Chris Streeter says
I was wondering if there has been any more follow up with people with Crohns that have gone Paleo? Also, is it more important to go full Paleo or gluten-free as a reliever of symptoms? Thanks!
Steve Jacka says
I have just been diagnosed with Crohn’s.I have been pretty much Paleo with a loose day once a week.I am hoping to be finished with coffee because everything I read says to avoid it.I am not sure exactly what caused this condition but all I know is I want to get on top of it so that i can get back to normal training and have more energy in general.
I have decided to stick 100% to Paleo .I have read alot of success stories on different sites by people who have gone paleo.This means I will also ditch the milk that I was having in my lattes and ,in addition,the rubbish on my cheat days.
Cheers from Australia.
Robb Wolf says
Keep me posted on your progress. Sleep is big in this, as is stress. 100% paleo-compliant is pretty important in getting things back on track.
Steve Jacka says
I cant say that I have gone strict Paleo as yet.The reason being is that I am still holding onto 1 normal strength per day.Yes, its a good improvement from 3 or 4 double shot lattes per day down to one.That is the only hold up with the transition…….with dirty,dirty migraines….hahaha
However, things have improved out of sight. My sleep is wonderful….having the weirdest and longest dreams.I am waking up fresher and alot more alert.I fall asleep faster. My bowel movements have been very good….no diarrhea,very little blood and no abdominal pain from inflammation . I know it may sound graphic but I havent enjoyed going to the crapper so much for over six months.Its great.
I met with the doctor last week ( He performed my colonoscopy on the 23rd of June.) He still advised me to get on medication ( and include gluten in my diet ). This was after i sat there and told him that i had improved already and that I was quietly confident that i could get a hold of this beast. The prescription still hasn’t moved from the glovebox of my pickup.I hope to throw that prescription out one day .The reasoning behind his advice to get back on gluten was so that my second blood test for caeliac would be easier to identify.I wont be doing that but I will have the other blood tests for iron,etc.
I know its early days but I am doing everything right .I am feeling so much better.My strength WOD’s were always pretty good during the time when I was struggling with this.However my metcons were terrible and I got tired so quickly and as a consequence re-injured my shoulder due to pushing too hard when i had nothing…..The few metcons I have done in the last week have been alot better.My shortness of breath and tiredness is no where near the bad state of affairs looking back over the last 6 months.
I will stop the coffee soon and continue this path.Its looking good so far.The toilet is fun now…..hehe
Robb Wolf says
Steve! That is outstanding! Keep me posted.
Any info regarding Ulcerative Proctitis and paleo nutrition?
Robb Wolf says
Did yoou read that post and comments? Paleo is fantastic for UC.
Steve Jacka says
After 30 days of big changes here is a brief summary –
Out of thirty days ,twenty four had back to normal bowel movements.The other six days were not that great,however there was very lttle pain present before those bowel movements. The reason for those six days of abnormal movements could be several factors.One could be that I bought a BBQ chicken with stuffing that was supposed to be gluten free.Another could be due to a stressful situation that caused a lack of good sleep.One other reason could be that I was still having one normal strength latte per day.It could just be my intestines still re-adjusting.
So its been eight days since I had any coffee and my bowel movements have been very good overall.I am still having green tea though.I will still have green tea for the moment.
My body is adapting well to the deleted cheat day that I used to have once a week.I just make Paleo sweet stuff to reward myself if I feel like it.My energy levels have improved out of sight and my multiple efforts in my metcon work are back to where they were last year.I eat when I feel like it and dont really keep track of blocks etc, except post workout with sweet potato ,etc. My recovery is very good after the WOD’s I’ve done so far.Looking good .My sleeps are incredible.
Ok its not perfect buts I will take it any time of the week .People dont believe me when I tell them about the progress .It might be a bit premature but I honestly think I will eventually feel better that ever before.Time will tell.
Robb Wolf says
Good stuff amigo, keep me posted.
Jay R Patel says
I have suffered from UC for about 8 years. About two years ago at the behest of my doctor (GP), I went on diet to lose a few pounds. My blood pressure was high and with UC life was miserable. I decided to try the LOW CARB diet and within 30 days I lost about 12 pounds and within 3 months about 22 pounds. More surprisingly my UC symptoms were were gone. Being an Indian of Asian decent I recently caved in and strayed from the diet. Indian food is rich with oils, lot of flour, breds etc and as a result I’m having the worst flare ups in years. Infact, as I am writing this I already visited the crapper once.
Anyway I told my wife that I am going back on the diet and that’s that. Culturally it sucks because when you refuse certain foods it is considered rude but I really don’t care.
No I am not an expert or trying to sell a product but I’m not taking the god awful meds the gastro doc had me on. I wish us UC sufferers could find more people that can share genuine stories about what has worked, instead of those trying to cash in on this freaking disease……Hope it helps….
Robb Wolf says
Read through the comments…folks have consistently put UC into remission with a paleo diet.
Steve Jacka says
Get back on it Jay!! Hang in there mate.You know it works !!
Steve Jacka says
Its been over a month since I last posted. What can I say?
Its just keeps getting better! I am amazed at the progress.
Yes, I have had small isolated flare ups but they are few and far between.My toilet visits are becoming more like they used to be;once a day .Energy levels have improved out of site.My migraines from coffee withdrawals are very rare compared to last month.I hope that they will be gone for good soon.Maybe they are from something else.
I am still having green tea in the mornings but replace any other hot drinks with nice herbal teas that I have come across at the local organic store.
Its all good.
Robb Wolf says
Great post. I cant get enough UC stuff.
Diagnosed in 2000 with severe UC @ 31 years old and in the best shape of my life. I was a beast at 6’3″, 230 lbs and relatively lean (18% bf)for a recreational cellar lifter. Blood started flowing, I went right to a GI specialist, was misdiagnosed for weeks until I passed out with a yeast infection from severe dehydration from my mouth all the way down .. I was hospitalized for over 30 days and withered down to 128 lbs. The hospital gave me a c-diff infection and a staff infection. I had toxic mega-colon and came inches away from losing my colon. Thankfully, HIGH doses IV steroids started to work at the last minute. That took 2 more years of tapering steroids, then relapsing, then tapering back and forth to finally go into remission. I returned to my H.I.T. training as a steroidy puffy blob and enjoyed approx 5 years of complete remission and came off all meds against my docs wishes. *&$@ big pharm!
I thought I had it beat then in 2008 wham-o. Another 30 day hospital stay. This time, steroids wouldnt subside the inflammation so I had to go on Cyclosporine along w/ asacol, steroids, & imuran (6-mp). It was brutal but remission worked and starting in July, by X-Mas I was symptom free and started weaning off the damn meds again against Dr’s orders. I weighed 140 this time and started all over rebuilding w/ sore-ass joints, depression, hump-back, no energy, skinny legs, you name it.
It was then – Jan 1, 2009, a buddy (suffering from his own auto-immune problems) hit me up with Paleo and associated information such as leaky gut, L.Cordain, ect. Being a strong advocate of facts, logic, and science it made sense to me and started out on my paleo gig. It wasnt 100% but I did well. I shed 40 lbs of steroid puffed hump back from 235 to 195 following a good H.I.T. training regimine with good solid paleo eating habits. Did that in 3 months no problem. But I would “cheat” and have an occassional pizza, muffin, or gluten gum ball of some sort.
I was rolling along making great gains on my deadlifts, squats, presses and physique and then, wham-o. I went over board. I had to get 3 operations for infertility reasons in hopes of correcting 2 blockages making me infertile. Alas, it didnt work. The Mrs and I eventually went to IVF which we should know within weeks if it was successful (fingers crossed). But those operations, the financial stress, lack of sleep, and my intense exercise was “over-living” as Robb says and I passed the threshold and generated an auto-immune response to bring on attack #3 as we speak.
Its been 8 weeks come this Tues. Im on asacol again, steroids, and today was placed on imuran. Remicade infusion is looming all in hopes of getting me into remission. 10x a day, blood, becoming anemic with poor blood results on my labs and abdominal pains are pretty brutal. You with UC know the drill …
Ive prob been 70% paleo since the start in 2009 because Id cheat slightly and have dairy. With IF thrown in. But today, I start 100% paleo. Absolutely no cheats for dairy, grains, legumes, & egg whites. FOR LIFE! Maybe this with a very strict paleo and the continued supplementation of my 2009 Vit D3, fish oil, ect and stress managment and sleep focus will be the ticket? I can only try it for 30 days and see. But Im stubborn. Ill prob go until (if ever) I get an attack so I can say for sure if paleo is a cure or not. One thing I will say is NEVER before did I get an attack that didnt put me in a hospital for 30 days. Where the flare didnt escalate into a monster that nearly ended in a colon removal. Except this one. Its been at bay and maintaining. It HAS to be diet and supplementation. It is the ONLY change that has been made.
Down time and flares suck ass. Literally. But Robbs’ info,insight, pod-casts, and his book have all helped dramatically.
Foods dont upset me. When I am healthy, I can eat stuff that’ll make a billy goat puke so its hard for me to wrap my brain around 86’ing dairy and stuff when you seemingly feel fine and have no GI upset. When Im in remission, Im 100% in remission. I either get an all-out monster or its perfect health. I dont get it. Robb? Help here? But I now know the lectins, caseins, and other evils causing the immune responses so Ill give this a shot.
30 days. Lets see if I get into remission.
Robb Wolf says
Keep us posted.
You are not going to believe this but I am almost positive RANCID fish oil is responsible for my flare and current status. I havent been able to eat anything for days although I slowly started ramping up my fish oil pills (NSI brands) to the suggested amounts for “sick” people with auto-immunity. As I did, I noticed a direct correlation (since no food or other meds were being taken in) that my symptoms would escalate.
I have been using NSI brand from Vitacost since Jan 1, 2009 without any problems at 2 grams a day. This is my 3rd or 4th bottle and maybe it was shipped (and left) in a hot truck or something? Either way, Im almost positive its rancid although it tastes and smells seemingly fine.
Monday am (4 am) I took a few grams and immediately got sick as hell. I had nothing else and went to work. It was hell. I left, went to the ER and by like 2 pm I was feeling so much better after 15 BM’s throughout the day of all blood. I was released and went home. Feeling better I even ate some bacon and a banana and expected to get bad ab pain and run to the head. But nothing happened. I ate a little more later and was able to sleep through the night whereas before, I would take fish oil with dinner and be up all night in the john with symptoms. I see the pattern now. Its not food, its fish oil. I havent had any fish oil since, I was able to eat breakfast and lunch and have been fine all day. Unbelievable. My luck is the pits. Im trying to help my colitis and I actually brought on an attack. This isnt the first time either. Tainted creatine in 2000 caused my initial colitis. So thats it for me. No more fish oil, or creatine, ever. I will eat 1 lb of mixed sardines and salmon per week.
Im down 30 lbs at 175, very weak, and exhausted.
I would do 60X air squats to warm up for work outs, 20-30 push ups without breaking a sweat, ect before the flare at 205 lbs. Now, in this state, I can barely do 20 air squats and my heart is pumping like mad. 5 push ups is all I got off the other day. Im on 3 killer meds (incl steroids) for this flare which are all so catabolic and harmful that Im feeling it. All due to rancid fish oil. People with UC please beware.
I am fully on board with the bens of fish oil, but this is a possibility and it could mess you up bad. Its not worth the risk for me. This is absolutely horrible. Be careful.
I feel for you as i suffered from exactly similar situation after i was prescribed antiobiotics for a bad skin infection i got in gym that ruined my digestive system.
one of the things that most proponents of any diet forget that lot of things are context related. i would rather propose increasing our sensitivity and notice how our body reacts to certain foods. any food that makes you sleepy, exhausted or farty constantly is not good for you. if anyone wakes up with low energy, mouth tasting like shit and have energy swings has to relook his eating habits, lifestyle( exercise and stress) a, and quality of sleep.
I am a lot better. healed but system is weak so i will continue on the same diet for next 6 months and maybe slolwy add some of the things.
I have combined some principles from primal, vegan and ayurvedic streams and experimented to see what works for me.
According to Ayurveda every food has its own personality..some of that are inflammatory and some are not. almost like omega 3 and omega 6 issues. for example- dry ginger powder would help you to control bleeding but fresh ginger will aggravate it.
since my digestion was so weak and i had 8-9 BM’s everyday..i was scared.
here are some foods that helped me- fresh well cooked basmati rice with fresh buttermilk( take 2-3 spoons of organic green wholemilk yogurt and add 4 times water with a pinch or two of sea salt, ground cumin, ground ginger powder, ground turmeric). you can have this 2-3 times during day but not at night.
foods that you can use freely- carrots, green beans, courgettes, zucchini, squash, ripe avocado. but everything well cooked for your condition. well cookked chicken in small portions is acceptable.
some ripe banana is ok too. very small amount of fish is ok after 3-4 weeks of strict diet.
foods to avoid in this situation and context when you have inflammed bowels. milk, eggs, all uncooked vegetables, salads, eggplant will create havoc, peppers- all kind, potatoes. also papaya and beets are laxatives and not good until your disease gets better. red meat is no no.
personally i feel ok with small portion of spelt bread but avoid wheat , corn and other grains.
i have not had any medication apart from herbals..which started to give em relief within one week with strict diet.
so basically for breakfast- avocados, a glass of cucumber, celery , carrots juice/ or rice n butter milk.
lunch will be vegstew/ roast asparugus/ steamed green beans/carrots with splash of EVOO, or coocnut oil. or rice plsu butter milk.
dinner can be chicken, smallportion of rice and veges.
after what i experienced i can live on this diet for life as long as i stay full of energy and healthy.
so i am vegan in the day and primal at night 🙂
you are loved
For someone with UC who is naturally thin – 5 11 1/2 150pounds Male – and tested in the “High” marks with blood food allergy test’s (igg/ige) for Egg’s and Almonds – what advice can you give for getting 2000 calories a day while eating Paleo? I also read that you recommend staying away from Egg’s among other Paleo foods if you have autoimmunity like with UC. Seems to be a big source of calories on the Paleo diet. It’s also hard to start on a diet so high in veggies when you are flaring. Basically I’d be eating nothing but meat until things healed. I don’t see that happening……..
Robb Wolf says
yams, sweet potatoes, squash, all WELL cooked. Coconut products. Look in my FAQ for the mass gain example!!!
Helena Evans says
I have read all the comments and up to now have not been able to tolerate eating loads of fruit and veg so worry if I ate paleo i would not be able to eat enough.
Thank you for the quick response Robb. I’ll check out the FAQ.
Sorry, I meant to ask – Do you think the Blood test’s for food allergies are accurate? I read an article that said the antibodies may in fact show a protection against the food rather then an allergy or sensitivity. And that at this point the researchers admit they just don’t know yet. If I didn’t have UC I’d be less concerned. But I’m at the point where I can’t take chances so I’m choosing to avoid the foods I tested in the High zones for – Wheat, Eggs, Almonds and Soy.
Robb Wolf says
Yes, but food allergies are not the whole picture!
So, just from your experience do you think it’s wise for people with UC or any auto-immune disease to avoid egg’s and nightshades? I love egg’s…..so bummed. And it seems almonds are the go to nut for making paleo-pastry’s. Almonds were one of the foods that I tested in the high range of sensitivity to….bummer
Robb Wolf says
Yea, I’d drop the eggs and nightshades for a month and give it a shot.
Thanks so much for the responses!
Steve Jacka says
Hey Robb. Its been a while so I will fill you in on the latest.
Everything was going well until a few weeks ago. I am not sure exactly what I could have done for things to go backwards. Maybe its in my diet or it could be stress. The diarrhea has come back and blood is common with some days having more blood than others.Bowel movements are not good like they were only weeks ago.
These are the things that I did with my diet just prior to this bad period-
1) started taking magnesium ( orotate,aspartate,AA chelate,phosphate )
They dont sell Mag. citrate on its own in Oz.
2) Continued to eat some nightshades,eggs, nuts and seeds( can be trouble with auto-immune stuff ) with my standard paleo diet, along with coconut products, etc
3) Continued to take about 10grams of fish oil per day along with probiotics or sauerkraut on alternate days.
Along with all that, I made sure that I cooked my veggies properly and varied my protein sources. I even cut right down on green tea.
Now, there was a stressful situation that took place but I didnt think that would affect anything. As the flare up became more dominant, I started to worry too nuch and therefore couldn’t sleep well at night. I paid a visit to the local health food store and the guy who works there has UC. He recommended Bromelain as an enzyme to break down the protein. He also recommended I take loads of turmeric and slippery elm at each meal with the enzyme. ( Cant find anything like Nowfoods super enzymes in Australia )
The other issue could be my training schedule. I am training for a single lift deadlift comp in December. Could the heavy deads every Monday be taking its toll on my CNS and therefore messing everything else up?? Maybe I need to re-assess things….
Robb…..mate….I know you are busy but could you please give me so feed back on my situation??? Ever since I was a kid I have been a worry wart and always set my self unrealistic goals…..maybe I am bloody worrying too much and that could be the whole issue….I dont know…..hear from you preferably after you had your coffee….;-)
Steve Jacka says
Forgot to mention that I stopped nightshades, nuts ,seeds and eggs about 3 weeks ago……..also wondering whether 1 gram of protein / pound of bodyweight might be too much for me….
Robb Wolf says
could be. cut that to .5-.75 and see how you do.
Steve Jacka says
Thanks Robb….I have a feeling it might be the cause because i upped it about 5 weeks ago….maybe too much at once…
Is there any problem with taking high doses of fish oil with the bleeding associated with UC?
Robb Wolf says
Yes, and with UC fish oil should only be 2-3g/day max. Possibly less.
Robb, I also posted this on marksdailyapple.com where I saw you talk about having UC yourself. Are you claiming that you no longer have UC due to the paleo diet? When were you diagnosed and what was the extent of your disease if you don’t mind me asking? You don’t take any medications? And you have had a colonoscopy with biopsies done to show you have no current inflammation?
Robb Wolf says
Yes I am “claiming” to be UC free. All of this was Dx’d at the UW medical center around 1998.
Why the hell do I need an colonoscopy to “prove” I’m healthy? Just try paleo for 30 days, use the free quick start guide.
I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory with my use of the word “claiming”. I hope you didn’t take it so. I have UC and as you can imagine the thought of being free of it gives me enormous hope.
You would want a colonoscopy done because sometimes patients show no symptoms but still have active UC. Prolonged inflammation in the colon increases your risk for colon cancer considerably. Again you sound bothered that I asked and my intent was not to argue. You can understand how someone with this disease would want to know facts about a person who says they are free of it. If I understand correctly your intent is to help people and in fact change their lives. If you had what is considered a life long chronic bowel disease and believe you are cured of it then why not lay waste to any doubt and post your biopsy results from when you were diagnosed? And then post current biopsy results proving you are free of the disease? Honest questions.
What medicines did you take for your UC? And do you still take any at all?
I really appreciate you taking the time to answer. I have recommended your book to several people and all of them have had success (weight loss and IBS).
Robb Wolf says
I did not take meds then, none now. I was facing a bowel resection and things were BAD. When I changed my eating I was “healed” in days. My docs would not believe it was my nutrion, it was “spontaneous.” So, I was done with that scene.
what I’m saying is that 30 days from now, you need not “hope”, you could be “well.”
That’s incredible. Unfortunately I have tried eating paleo (for 3 months) and did not see results. Because of the auto-immune component of UC I stayed away from eggs and dairy which cut out a lot of calories. I also need to avoid almost all fruits and veggies which aggravate my symptoms. This left meat and sweet potatoes. 20oz of meat and at least 2 sweet potatoes a day. Stools got very loose and I actually seemed to lose weight (but the little muscle I do have seemed to get more defined even though all I do is rock climb and snowboard). I’m already naturally thin – 145 5.11”. I dropped to about 135 which just isn’t healthy imo.
Thank you for the responses though. I really appreciate it. Great to hear someone was able to find an alternative that worked for them. And that they don’t have to suffer any more! You are fortunate!
Robb, I have respect for you and for the effort that you’ve invested on this blog (which I read often). Please do not misinterpret this post. I have a dear relative suffering from UC and I am trying me best to understand what her options are.
The main reason why I am posting is, first, because I consider you an informed, reliable person and, second, because I find that the information you have provided on the benefits of Paleo in helping UC is unclear, incomplete, and ultimately insufficient for me. I acknowledge and accept that the problem could be completely on my side.
As it has been explain to me by doctors, a person requiring a colectomy (your case as well as my relative’s) at least implies bleeding ulcers, pseudopolyp development, and colonic dilation. Steroids and other meds together with a non-paleo but disease-specific diet are meant to eliminate the bleeding, bring the development of pseudopolyps to a stop, and reduce inflammation. That’s it. No more. Symptoms can be treated but the colon cannot be restored to its previous healthy state. UC is chronic and those that suffer it must remain on meds (or at least on the alert) to prevent future flare-ups as the damage is permanent.
A successful remission, therefore, implies (so tell me doctors) the absence of those symptoms. It does not imply the restoration of the lining the intestine to a normal state (elimination of ulcer scars and disappearance of pseudopolyps). It does not imply either the repair of the “corrugated” shape of the colon from its diseased, post-inflammation “flatten” state.
Therefore, after reading your reply to another poster above:
When I changed my eating I was “healed” in days. My docs would not believe it was my nutrion, it was “spontaneous.”
I must ask, what does it mean? Does it mean you no longer have the symptoms? Does it also mean that the lining of the intestine was completely restored (no ulcer scars and pseudopolyps)? Did your colon regain its former “wrinkled” shaped as it is normal?
Again, thank you for all your efforts.
Robb Wolf says
Well, like I told this other person I never had follow-up scopes. I was so disgusted with the lack of interest on the part of my doc’s I was just done with the whole process. the key points here:
1-I immediately regained weight.
4-Signs of malabsorption (nail ridges, brittle hair) improved within weeks.
I;d have to go back in and get scopped…I’m willing to take a few bullets for y’all but I’m not sure that I’m willing to pay for that ( I have an HSA…I pay for all this stuff in “real dollars”, no insurance covers this) and we’ve had hundreds of people report the same/similar results as I have. So, Again, my question is: What do you have to lose? Perhaps things do NOT go back 100%, but it saved me from surgery, likely saved or extended my life. this resistance to trying things sounds like conversations I’d had with alcoholics! If you and the previous person asking about this want to pitch in and cover my scope costs, I’ll do it, but it seems an awful waste of time and money.
Thank you very much for the quick reply.
My questions were aimed at getting the best possible information in order to help her. I do not doubt the success of your experience.
My relative and I are both on Paleo diets. Hers is more strict than mine as we are hoping to, at best, reverse the damage and, at worst, be free of meds. We are taking the long view and she will be on the Paleo diet until June or so next year. We will then see what the doctor has to say in terms of improvement. For those interested, she is not going to stop taking her medication which is otherwise effective in regards to symptoms (provided a healthy lifestyle which Paleo is). We are seeking full recovery… which, we acknowledge, might be too much to ask of Paleo.
If the Paleo diet does reverse the damage to her colon I will be sure to post back here and inform the world. Of course, it would be a single case (anecdotal) and, perhaps then, it would be important to also have your (and others) before/after colonoscopy results.
Again, thank you for your help.
Robb Wolf says
You bet, keep me posted.
Robb, Thanks so much for all that you do. After I watched you talk at the Ancestral Health Symposium and you described the rheumatologist as stating that your mother’s autoimmune issues were caused by intolerances to grains, legumes, and dairy, I felt shocked. Hearing that, and especially hearing about your ulcerative colitis when you were in your 20s and the way you healed it, convinced me to do the 30-day Paleo diet.
Some of my health history: I was diagnosed via biopsies with ulcerative colitis when I was 18. I took medication sporadically for it until I was 27. Until then, I had flare-ups that came and went, and spent a week in a hospital receiving IV fluids (and steroids, I assume). I was discharged w/ more steroids and flagyl. When I was 27, I started seeing a gastroenterologist that someone I knew had recommended to me. He has kept me on 4-8 400 mg tabs of Asacol per day since then. He’s also prescribed Librax for me to take during flare-ups. From the age of 27 to 41, I had a few flare-ups.
Since last December, the ulcerative colitis has been the worst it’s ever been. It goes into remission for a few days or a few weeks (after taking prednisone or colocort), but then returns.
I eliminated all forms of wheat on 9/7, started the Paleo diet on 9/13, and then when I learned about the Autoimmune Paleo diet, I began that on 9/21.
I felt much healthier last Wednesday through Friday, but worse on Friday and Saturday. I had been tapering off my one prescription (Asacol)for the past few weeks, but yesterday raised my dose back up to 3 400mg tabs daily.
Do you think I should complete 30 days of Autoimmune Paleo on 4 400 mg tabs per day of Asacol, and then start to slowly taper off my medication? My gastroenterologist tells me “It’s not the food you’re eating, it’s the disease” and “Don’t cut out grains” and “Eat oats and bran cereal for fiber”, so he is no help as far as nutritional advice goes. Thanks for any advice you can give me. I really want to heal this without drugs.
I have a very honest and relevant UC/Crohn’s experience to share.
My Paleo creds:
Just completed first, full year being completely paleo: no dairy, no grains, no legumes. Best year of health of in my adult life. I will eat paleo for the rest of my life.
My disease stats:
31 years of Ulcerative Colitis. Diagnosed at 18. Changed to Crohn’s diagnosis after developing a fistula. Longest remission: 6 months.
I met Robb 5 years ago when I signed up for personal training. I couldn’t hack the paleo diet and didn’t believe my disease had anything to do with celiac. I quit.
5 years later, I read Robb’s book and attended a seminar. It made sense. and I was more open-minded to the science behind the paleo approach. On December 6th, 2010 I made the commitment to give up dairy, grains, and legumes. I haven’t looked back since.
The result is that I have lived my first pain-free year of my adult life. I have also lost 30 pounds and I have more energy than I can ever remember having. It’s about time!
I did have two wheat breaches during the year and within 24-48 hours I experienced sharp joint pain. It took about 6-8 days to disappear completely.
These slips literally qualified how priceless it is to enjoy complete health and be free from the prison UC/Crohn’s symptoms.
With regard to doctors and medicine, I am still under the care of my GI docs at UC Davis and I still take my meds, 6mp. I just had a colonoscopy three weeks ago and bloodwork – no signs of inflammation in the blood work.
My colonoscopy while I thought would be perfect, showed mild, active disease but I am not feeling it at all which is confusing. To be honest, this completely shocked me at first and I was a little devastated. I was not quite understanding how I could have active disease and feel so good.
Today I am looking at it this way. I have been ill for more than 30 years, this is year 1 in repairing the gut lining. It took a long time to do the damage, it will take a significant amount of time to heal.
In fact, it may never heal to the point that it presents as 100% and I am okay with that. I have plenty of scar tissue and architectural distortion that is par for my personal disease history and course. However, as long as my systemic manifestations and symptoms are absent and I am continually heading in the direction of healing verses breaching it (the gut lining), I am happy. Again, the most important take away is that by following and committing to a 100% paleo food plan I am healthier than I have ever been in my adult life.
I intend to always remain under the care of my GI docs and I will continue to take my medicine, probably forever. But… I am also committed to Paleo for life!
Thanks Robb! While your blunt responses and comments have been, at times, more difficult to swallow than a loaf of bread… I am grateful for you leading me back to health.
I’ve been Paleo for about 2 months now and it has definitely helped. I haven’t had a ton of blood in my stool, but almost every day when I wipe, there is blood on the toilet paper. I was diagnosed with UC about 3 months ago. Paleo has definitely made me feel better, but should I be concerned that I still have blood on the toilet paper? The doctor prescribed me Lialda. I haven’t yet taken any. Im worried that if I do I will have to stay on it forever. But alternatively, I don’t want to develop some type of infection or have more problems with my colon if I continually have blood.
Peter Dunn says
I read most of this forum and it is astonishing how some react well to dietary changes and some just keep suffering no matter what they try. I was diagnosed with UC at age 16 and I am now about to turn 47 so I have had a great deal of experience with what works for me and what doesn’t. Horrible to admit but I started smoking 10 cigarettes a day to keep myself in remission and for the most part it has worked and I have yet to feel any ill affects from the smoking other than the smell – not a big fan of it but the carbon monoxide (not the nicotine) somehow keeps me from flaring up. Seems in the first 5-6 years of diagnosis I had it pretty bad and could not go anywhere so depression and giving up on any kind of productive life I started smoking … 3 days later remission. I had never linked the 2 until many years later when the internet became a savvy place to get medical info. All that said I still wish I could quit but shaving a few years off my life from smoking beats living in hell all the time. I have a few other annoying issues like RLS, PLMD, a chronic chest rash. The rash is significant in my post because it started to get very bad in the last few months and I finally sat myself down and spent an entire day looking for anything that could tell me what the rash was as doctors were unable to and I tried every cream and topical ointment in the book … stay with me … I’m getting to the good stuff. I finally found a picture on the web that looked exactly like the rash I had have and the symptoms and everything else were spot on. It’s called pityriasis lichenoides chronica which is extremely rare so that’s why the doctors couldn’t determine what it was. The treatment recommended by a study was to take bromelain (someone mentioned it on here in passing). Bromelain is an enzyme found only in pineapples so I found a health store that carries it and bought 3 bottles. I started taking 2 capsules 5 times a day on an empty stomach and with food. Pretty sure I was wasting time and money. About 5 days into taking these my rash was starting to fade and this excited me … something else I noticed … I was starting to have bowel movements I haven’t had in 30 years. That horrible acrid metallic smell in my dung was no longer there, all the blood was gone, no mucous, no weird things just normal well-formed logs. With smoking I have always been able to eat anything I want but there usually is a bit of blood and the horrid smell but fairly normal … this was in another league. Today was another breakthrough day for me as I workout a great deal and usually tire quickly but today I could not stop and my energy went through the roof. Anyhow, I don’t know if bromelain is key in this miraculous recovery but nothing else adds up. The key is to take a lot of this enzyme. Will keep you posted.
Got the UC diagnosis in January. Strong anemia and diarrhea. Doctors gave me corticosteroids and acethioprin (a very strong immunsuppressivum) I refused! After a short time in hospital and home, reading and googling around the world, I started something quite – which i know realised – similiar to paleo diet, additionally daily ginseng green tea (sencha) and iron supplies (at the beginning) plus daily meditation and movement (walks for the start and know cycling) worked out awesome for me!!!! All in all: I totally recommend paleo diet, but in addition with aerob cyclical sports (running, cycling, swimming)
my colitus and skin peeling eczema and bowel inflammation was caused by dairy milk products, sugar ( even chocolate or cakes with sugar in it) any vegetable oils, wheat, when i stop all this it all goes away
sugar wrecks your teeth and will also wreck your skin and hair
I’ve had UC for 14 years. Through my twenties I trained and partied like hell and didn’t respect my disease. Had various flare up but none server enough for me to curb my poor lifestyle.
At 28 my body hit back and I spent months in hospital. Had to go on steroids IV, various autoimmune drugs. It took me a full year to get back to health. I lost 20kg.
I decided to eat paleo or close to. Tha happened around 5 years ago . I mainly eat veg and meat, occasional eggs and meat. I would say I’m 80% paleo .
I’ve been symptom free pretty much for 5 years now. I have picked up stomach flu and has lingered but apart from that no flares. I also managed to week myself off the various pills I was taking
If I step out of the paleo lifestyle for whatever reason I get gassy and loose bowels straight away. Not enough to start a flare but a good warning to get back on track .
Through various trail and error of course wheat/oats/sugar seem to be solid cause of any issues.
If I eat 33/33/33 carbs /fat / protein I feel great
If I up he carbs too much or go on a binge then I feel like crap again
Everyone with UC should give paleo a go I’m sure it’s the reason I can love my life now
I have UC, too since 4 moths. After my first flare up, I was also diagnosed with fructose malabsorption.
So I cut fruit from my diet. I ate rice, potatoes, meat and vegetables less in fructose and never had problems with my UC anymore. But I still was suffering from depressive episodes. I wanted to try, to get into ketosis and see if this would be a good thing for my mood. And yes, it really helped.
But now it comes: While living on a ketogenic diet (while orientating at paleo foods) I started to use coconut oil. 3 days after using this, I noticed blood and moucus in my stool :-/ One day later I used coconut milk for a shake and than I had a bad flare up and depressive Episode. I also know this reaction from Gluten. But the reason now was surely coconut, especially coconut extract.
So I think there is no general diet for everyone. For me coconut products were really bad.
I now hope that the flare up and the bleeding stops without medicaion after being careful a few days only eating meat and very few good cooked veggies.
What do you think of my experience with coconut products?
Robb Wolf says
Some folks ARE reactive to coconut…seems to be the case for you.
What’s with the swearing at the beginning? There’s just no need. My kids read your page. Well, they used to…
I love reading the positive comments on how paleo worked for UC. I have UC for 20 yrs was able to get it under control after I was first diagnosed by staying away from gluten. After many years I am now having a flare up going on 3 months. Started to follow Robbs plan tomthe letter 5 days ago seems to be working crossing my finger. Thanks everyone for the encouragement. Linda
I was diagnosed with UC back in July, and am working on remission. I am coming down off of the steriod perscription and taking Lialda. I have previously eaten Paleo for a long time and got away from it when I started competing in CrossFit. The one question I have Rob is that my docotor is persprcibing NO FIBER whatsoever until I am in remission which leaves a huge gap from a nutrition perspective. He is advising a meat and potatoes diet. I wasnt feeling good trying to manage satiety eating higher carb, so I recently dropped them to a much lower % of intake. Primairly eating higher intake protioen and low carb(under 60g of low fiber starch). I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my digestiion. Did you have good results with eating vegtables are part of Paleo? Or was that once you were healed?
Some people may need to cut out vegetables for a time, or eat certain ones very well cooked and soft (in stews and soups, or cooked and blended). It might be something you need to play around with and can change over time.