Diverticulitis Diet
Why more common today?

A diverticulitis diet is a necessary component in the treatment of this disease but it helps to get a basic understanding of what is required and why.

Diverticulosis is the formation of abnormal pouches in the bowel wall. It occurs when small defects in the muscle of the wall of the large intestine or colon allow small pockets or pouches (diverticula) to form.  When these pouches become infected or inflamed it then becomes known as diverticulitis. Collectively these conditions are known as diverticular disease.

The Diverticulitis Diet and lifestyle plays a significant role
in both the treatment and prevention of this condition

Diverticulosis is unfortunately extremely common in the western world and frequently causes no symptoms whereas diverticulitis can often be a debilitating and painful medical emergency, requiring immediate medical attention. Mild attacks may be treated at home, however it is always recommended that medical advice be sought as serious complications may develop suddenly.

The primary cause of diverticulosis appears to be a low fibre diet, and is most prevalent in old age with more than half of all adults over the age of 70 being affected. As diverticulosis is often asymptomatic (without symptoms), most individuals are unaware that they have the condition and diagnosis may often only occur when acute infection occurs.

It is thought that diet plays a significant role in the development of diverticulosis. Fundamental to this theory is the fact that this condition is more common when people eat a highly refined, low-fibre diet - particularly in ‘Western’ nations including North America, Europe and Australia - while incidence is less common in Asia and very uncommon in Africa.

Therefore, it is recommended that highly refined foods be limited while maintaining a healthy intake of dietary fibre, including whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

People with diverticulosis should avoid foods that
seem to aggravate them individually - keeping a
food journal may help to pinpoint any culprits

Treatment however revolves around the settling of symptoms, particularly by removing fibre from the diet for a period of time to rest the lower digestive system. Fibre is introduced back into the diet slowly. Green vegetables, oat bran and fibre supplements such as phylum are usually recommended, leading to improved bowel function and regularity. Some foods may make symptoms worse or even lead to an attack so try to avoid:

  • nuts, seeds and pips
  • legumes (peas and beans)
  • and sweet corn

Click here for a sample of a diverticulitis diet plan.

An initial diagnosis may include a recommendation to increase soluble and insoluble fibre intake as part of your diverticulitis diet. Fibre has the ability to absorb water and make stools bulky and soft, this reduces pressure on the intestinal tract and waste spends less time in the colon and intestinal tract. High-fibre cereals or unprocessed wheat bran, as well as plenty of fruits and veggies, are often recommended to be included in an eating plan.

During an acute attack of diverticulitis however, a LOW-fibre diet is advised until symptoms subside. This may initially consist of water, fruit juices (no pulp), soups and ice lollies. Gradually low fibre foods such as white bread, meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products can be introduced before resuming a high-fibre diet.

See your health care provider if you're
experiencing any pain, bleeding, constipation, or bloating

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