Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the lining of the colon. It usually starts in the rectum and shows rectal bleeding. It then moves up into other parts of the colon. We now know that the normal richly diverse make up of colon bacteria changes for the worse in this disorder. When this happens it is called dysbiosis. We still do not know if this bad mix of bacteria is a result of the disease or if it in some way is part of the cause. Nevertheless, many physicians feel that modulating this bad bacterial mix makes sense. It is virtually risk free and it may be helpful for some patients with ulcerative colitis. The following article speaks to some of the methods, including prebiotics, that are being used in this effort.
Butyrates are a particularly important substance that is made in the colon by the best colon bacteria. Butyrates help heal an inflamed colon wall, beneficially add acid to the colon and provide the nutrient to the very cells that are inflamed in ulcerative colitis. This article shows that this healthy substance is not produced in enough quantities in the colitis patient. What is also known is that prebiotic plant fibers stimulate the best colon bacteria to grow and produce more butyrate. This may benefit the colitis patient.
What can the individual patient do to help in their own care? Diet is one important consideration. You are referred to my detailed Dietary Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis for a full discussion. However, many authorities are now talking about how prebiotics, probiotics and even fecal transplantation may play a role in the future care of patients.