An ileostomy is a surgical procedure in which a part of the small intestine called the ileum is connected to the abdominal wall to expel the digestive waste through a pouch called stoma.
The surgery is performed for patients with colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or those who suffer from obstruction of the colon.
The Ileostomy external pouch can be discarded once it is filled up.
A balanced diet to provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are crucial for patients who have had an ileostomy.
A good dietary plan is important to aid in digestion, prevent the formation of gas and avoid blockage of the stoma.
It is also important to maintain an ideal body weight. Extra fat in the abdominal wall may make it difficult for the stoma to function.
Eat Low-Fiber Food
For about four to six weeks after the surgery, it is advisable to follow a low-fiber diet to allow the intestine to absorb the food and to prevent the high output of undigested material into the ileostomy bag. A high-fiber diet can also result in indigestible food residue that can cause a blockage of the intestine.
Foods to Avoid - Raw vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are high in roughage. These foods are fibrous or stringy, so they are not easily digested and does not break down in the bowel.
Foods to be avoided in the first few weeks , after the surgery include dried fruits, pineapple, beans, celery, corn, mushrooms, wheat bran, nuts, and sausages. It is a temporary limitation to avoid such foods. Foods that are high in residue can be slowly included in the diet after a month.
Foods to Eat - Consume fruits and vegetables that are peeled and cooked until tender for easy digestion. Ripe banana, soups, fruit juice, melons, bread, skim milk can prevent irritation of the digestive tract.
Timing is Important
Eating meals at regular intervals is important to let the intestines adjust to the new situation and help the healing process.
Avoid skipping meals, as it may result in the formation of gas. Avoid overeating as it could be harmful.
Divide the three regular meals into six smaller meals to avoid overeating and promote normal bowel movement.
Foods should be chewed well to reduce the risk of blockages. This will also allow the intestine to digest and absorb food, reduce the formation of gas, prevent bloating and improve regularity and control output.
Fluid intake is necessary for easy digestion and to expel the toxins.
Drink at least eight to ten glasses of water a day.
Include fluid in the diet in the form of soup, broth, and juice.
Sports beverages are beneficial to maintain the electrolyte balance as it contains sodium and potassium.
When the body is not hydrated enough, symptoms like thirst, dry lips, and yellow colored urine are the indicators, so ensure that you drink enough fluid to keep yourself hydrated.
Salt and Potassium Intake:
Salt and potassium are not absorbed well after undergoing ileostomy. Increase the intake of salt and potassium in the diet to meet the daily recommended levels.
Sodium-rich foods: Table salt, seafood, dairy products, spices, meat, fruits like grapefruit, passion fruit, cantaloupe, grapes, banana, figs and watermelons and vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, beet, spinach and artichoke.
Potassium-rich foods: Milk, banana, avocado, citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, dark green leafy vegetables and fish.
Foods to Help Manage Diarrhea
After a bout of diarrhea, it is important to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Including vegetable juice, soups, coconut water and sports drinks may help balance the body fluids.
Consumption of tea and coffee may worsen diarrhea.
Limit the intake of foods that contain simple sugars such as desserts, sugary beverages like juices and soda, spicy foods and artificial sweeteners as they aggravate diarrhea.
High-potassium foods will help counteract the effects of diarrhea.
Banana, apple sauce, peanut butter and white rice can control diarrhea.
Foods to Prevent Constipation
Constipation can block the stoma. It is important for people with the stoma to prevent constipation.
Increasing the number of fluids can treat constipation.
Fiber can be included in the diet to lessen the risk of constipation after first six weeks following the surgery.
Foods that offer constipation relief are cooked fruits and vegetables, warm water, and hot beverages (coffee or tea), lemon juice and prune juice.
Certain foods may cause bloating, abdominal pain and the stoma may stop work. Some foods may cause significant accumulation of gas. Refraining from such foods is necessary.
Some of the gas-forming foods are - Beans, cabbages, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, onions, leeks, excess dairy products, excess fruits, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.
Avoid using straws - as it may cause the formation of gas. Sip the fluids and avoid gulping or drinking fast.
Lactose Intolerance - Abdominal bloating and gas formation may be symptoms of lactose intolerance. Soy milk, almond milk, and lactose-free milk can be preferred.
Foods that cause bloating in an individual may not have any effect on another individual.
It is always wise to try and introduce one food at a time and monitor the reactions.
Avoid Odor-Causing Foods
The odor is normal, it is a result of digesting food. Some foods can cause bad odor when it enters the stoma.
Foods that cause bad odor - Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprout), asparagus, onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, seafood, cod liver oil, and alcohol cause bad odor. Certain drugs and vitamins can also cause odor.
Foods that neutralize odors are - parsley, buttermilk, yogurt, cranberry juice, tomato juice, and fennel tea.
Cleanliness is essential to control bad odor. Odor-resistant appliances can be used. Odor-controlling products such as deodorant sprays or drops may help.
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