Diverticulosis refers to a medical condition in which there are small pouches that form in the colon and inside the lower regions of the intestine. It is a disorder that affects adults, although it is more prevalent among the elderly. Find out what this condition is, as well as the right diet recommended for those who suffer from diverticulosis.
Features of the Diverticulosis Diet
For those who suffer from constipation due to diverticula, it can help if they follow a type of diet that will prevent inflammation while supporting proper elimination of wastes from the body. The diverticulosis diet is primarily high in fiber, which can allow the colon to heal naturally and prevent further complications.
A diet that is high in fiber is beneficial in minimizing pressure on your colon as waste is eliminated thoroughly. Adopting a high-fiber diet can also ease other issues including diarrhea, constipation and bloating. As you include fiber-rich foods in your diet, formation of more diverticula may be prevented.
Generally, you need to consume as much as 18 grams of fiber daily. However, it is important to stick to the recommended amount of to avoid gas and bloating, which are typical symptoms linked with excessive fiber intake. Moreover, gradual increase enables your gut to become accustomed to the higher amount of fiber in your body.
The following are among some foods recommended for this diet:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
- Wholemeal flour and bread
- Whole grain cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes and beans
It is important that you meet the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, so you can supplement your body with the right amount of fiber. Excellent sources of fiber that you should include in your diet are oranges, broccoli, dried figs, pears, apples, asparagus and blueberries. Be sure to consume at least 80 grams of each food item, which is equivalent to one serving.
Aside from consuming fiber-rich food items, you should increase your fluid intake by at least two liters daily. You may obtain your fluid intake from water, although you may also consume fruit juices and teas. As much as possible, limit or avoid drinking packaged juices or fizzy beverages since these are high in sugar content. Drinking 100% fruit juice without added sugar supports your quick recovery as your body is supplemented with vitamins, minerals and fiber needed for optimum health.
In case your symptoms do not diminish even if you are following a high-fiber diet, you may be advised to take fiber supplements. Make it a point to seek professional advice from your doctor before you take these supplements, so you will learn more about the right dosage suitable to your condition.
Key Facts about the Diverticula
Diverticula are commonly found on various parts of the gut, but they usually develop in the colon and areas where stools solidify. It is also possible for several diverticula to form after a certain period, and this can pose serious health problems to individuals.
Generally, diverticulosis does not have any symptoms. However, there are instances when these small pouches start to bleed and become infected. Some people may also experience sharp abdominal pains and fever once an infection occurs. Although complications are rare, these can be serious health concerns that will require emergency medical attention.
Symptoms and Causes of Diverticulitis
There may be cases when signs of diverticulitis appear, and these include pain in the lower or right left portion of the abdomen, tender abdomen, constipation, vomiting or nausea and fever. Usually, these symptoms are experienced as the condition worsens over time.
Diverticulitis may occur due to a tear in the diverticula. Infection or inflammation may also result from this tear, which can aggravate the condition. In other people, diverticula develop because of severe pressure in the colon, which may cause certain weak areas to give way. Hence, pouches that protrude slightly through the walls of the colon may begin to form.
There are also some factors that put you at risk of diverticulitis such as the following:
- Lack of exercise
- Intake of medications such as opiates, some NSAIDs and steroids
Complications may occur over time, and this may result to a blockage in the small intestine or colon, abscess and rupture or inflammation of the diverticula. This will require immediate care to prevent further issues in the abdominal cavity.
What to Do with Acute Cases of Diverticulosis
If you experience a flare-up, you may have to consume low-fiber foods to prevent irritation and facilitate proper digestion of foods. Keep in mind that this is only on a short-term basis to ease your symptoms. Afterwards, you may slowly reintroduce foods that are richer in fiber content. Just be sure to monitor your condition and check for any worsening of symptoms as you adopt a new diet.
Recommended foods to eat:
- Plain crackers
- Olive oil and butter
- Baked potatoes
- White grains
- Ground and tender meats
- Well cooked vegetables and fruits
- Dairy products and milk
In addition to these foods, you may include clear liquids that will ease inflammation in the colon. These include water, herbal teas, clear soups and broths, and jellies.
For acute diverticulosis, it is best to avoid these foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Lentils, legumes and beans
- Vegetable and fruits skins
- Raw or dried fruits and vegetables
- Whole wheat products
For a lot more info about this diet, we recommend you take a look at this great book: A Complete Diet Guide for People with Diverticulitis.
It is worth noting that the way your body responds to fiber intake may vary from others. This means, you need to keep track of any symptoms that may arise as you follow a high-fiber or low-fiber diet. For instance, there are some people who suffer from severe cases of bloating and gas due to taking bran supplements and other foods rich in this substance. With this in mind, it is much better to take in foods that are rich in soluble fiber such as vegetables and fruits to avoid undesirable symptoms.
There are some individuals who may suffer from a flare up after eating a serving or two of nuts and seeds, or other fiber-rich foods. So, you have to keep track of any symptoms and simply make adjustments to your diet when you introduce high-fiber food items to your diet. These include flax seeds, beans, lentils, oats, psyllium and other soluble fiber-rich foods.