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Foods That Cause Pain in the Colon

Foods That Cause Pain in the Colon Foods That Cause Pain in the Colon

Overview

Your colon, or large intestine, is the largest part of your digestive system. Conditions characterized by colon pain include diverticulitis, in which tiny pouches in your colon become inflamed, colitis and Crohn's disease, which cause intestinal inflammation, gas and irritable bowel syndrome. This causes the muscles in your digestive tract to contract at irregular speeds. IBS is common, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, affecting 10 to 20 percent of the population at some point. In addition to medical treatment, when necessary, avoiding certain foods may help reduce your symptoms.

Sorbitol and Mannitol

Sorbitol is a sugar that occurs naturally in various fruits, including prunes, pears and apples. Many sugar-free or dietetic candies, gum and other products contain the artificial sweetener form of sorbitol or mannitol -- another non-nutritive sweetener. Sorbitol is one of the four sugars that stimulate gas, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. If you are particularly sensitive to gas, fruit sources may trigger gas pain and bloating. Artificially sweetened candies and products, particularly when consumed in excess, are known to trigger abdominal pain and other digestive symptoms, such as gas, cramping and loose stools. Sorbitol and mannitol may also trigger IBS symptoms.

Dairy Products

Dairy products, though valuable sources of protein and calcium, may cause intestinal pain. Many people, particularly those of Asian, Native American or African descent, have low levels of lactase, according to the NDDIC, which is necessary to digest lactose -- the sugar that occurs naturally in cow's milk. An inability to properly digest lactose also increases with age. High-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, cheddar cheese and ice cream, may trigger or worsen pain associated with Crohn's disease, colitis and IBS. Fortified soy, rice or almond milk; tofu; leafy greens; and canned salmon provide calcium and protein-rich alternatives.

Low-Fiber Starches

Fiber is an undigestible carbohydrate that promotes digestive function, appetite control and positive cardiovascular health. A low-fiber diet increases your risk for diverticulitis pain and constipation, which can also cause pain in your digestive tract. In some cases, doctors recommend a low-fiber diet to reduce activity in the digestive tract and to manage diarrhea and colitis flare-ups. In general, however, a fiber-rich diet is important for overall health and digestive regularity. Replacing low-fiber starches, such as white bread, instant rice, low-fiber cereals and enriched pasta with whole grains, fruits and vegetables provides a valuable way of increasing your fiber intake. If you have IBS, MayoClinic.com recommends gradually increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. If grains trigger gas pain, consume rice -- the only starch that does not stimulate gas production.

Certain Vegetables

Vegetables are a vital component of most healthy diets. If you're prone to gas, however, vegetables containing the natural sugar known as raffinose may trigger or worsen pain and related symptoms. Beans are particularly high in raffinose, according to the NDDIC. Vegetables that contain modest amounts include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and cabbage. Fried vegetable dishes, such as onion rings and french fries, and vegetables prepared in high-fat or creamy sauces may trigger colon pain associated with Crohn's disease, colitis and IBS. Vegetables less likely to cause digestive pain include steamed, baked or fresh bell peppers; potatoes; mushrooms; garlic; lettuce; and cucumbers.

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