Ischemic colitis is the potentially fatal disease up to 20% of us will eventually get but most of us have never heard of. “Ischemic” refers to poor blood flow. “Colitis” refers to inflammation of the lining of the colon. When a blood vessel known as the inferior mesenteric artery, which supplies blood to the left side of the intestines, is “clogged” with cholesterol or simply collapses during dehydration, oxygen-deprived tissue in the colon begins to die and the immune system removes it with inflammation.
The pain caused by ischemic colitis can be intense. Most people who have ischemic colitis seek emergency treatment because of the overwhelming pain. When ischemic colitis is caused by dehydration during an athletic event, or as the result of becoming stranded in intense heat, up to 90% of victims die within just 36 hours. Ischemic colitis that is caused by poor circulation through the inferior mesenteric artery, however, may not kill for years. By the age of 85, about 20% of men and women will develop this kind of ischemic colitis.
The most important thing to do during recovery from ischemic colitis is to avoid pressure on the bowel. Many ischemic colitis patients are put on strict low-fiber diets. Their food has to be bland to avoid any kind of colon irritation, no peppers, no curries, no pickles, no fruit or sweets. The sheer boredom of the diet, however, leads many people off their diets as they recover.
Low-fiber juices are a good way to get mineral and vitamin nutrition with different flavors without hindering recovery. Some juices that can be made with low fiber are:
- Strained beet juice (don't drink beet juice if you are scheduled for a colonoscopy),
- Strained cabbage juice,
- Strained carrot juice (carrot juice that has been strained, not juice made from strained carrots),
- Strained celery juice,
- Strained spinach juice, and
- Strained cucumber juice.
These juices should be prepared in an extraction juicer, not in a macerating juicer. They should be passed through a clean cloth or a fresh coffee filter so that no pulp is visible in the juice.
This may sound like a lot of trouble, but if you are put on a low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-salt, low-fiber diet and told that the only foods you can have are bouillon and Jell-O (jelly), you'll actually welcome the change of pace!
When you have fully recovered from ischemic colitis, a greater variety of juices is a good way to get your plant food nutrition. The juice places less of a strain on the digestive tract than either cooked or raw vegetables, and will help you get your vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals without risking a relapse of the disease.