Diverticulitis is a health condition categorised by inflamed pouches in the intestines along the gastrointestinal tract that mostly develops in the colon (large intestine). These pouches are called diverticula that become inflamed or infected by bacteria causing diverticulitis. It is usually harmless unless they are infected, if you have developed diverticula that are not infected or inflamed, then the condition is known as diverticulosis.
Diverticula occur when weak spots in the intestinal wall give way under intense pressure leading to sections bulging out. It is more common as you age and some of the health issues associated with diverticulitis includes nausea, fever, abdominal pain, bloody bowel movements, abscess and fistula. The main causative factor of diverticulitis is the blockage of the opening diverticula that is triggered by the build-up of faecal matter leading to inflammation and infection.
Some of the factors linked with an increased risk of diverticulitis include:
Low fibre diet
Deficiency of vitamin D
More common in men
What is Diverticulitis Diet?
A diverticulitis diet is a short-term treatment plan that offers rest to your digestive system. Oral food is usually limited until the symptoms of bleeding and diarrhoea settle. Generally, a low fibre, clear liquid diet is recommended during flare up.
Foods To Eat
Doctors may suggest to make certain dietary modifications that helps the patients to tolerate the condition and lessen the chance of aggravating over time. For patients suffering from acute diverticulitis a low fibre diet or a clear liquid diet is suggested that may alleviate symptoms.
Low Fiber Foods
White rice, white bread, or white pasta
Processed fruits, such as applesauce
Cooked lean meat such as fish, eggs or chicken
Cooked pumpkin, squash, spinach, beets, carrots, potatoes without skin
Fruit and vegetable juices
Olive or gingelly oil
Clear liquid diet
A clear liquid diet is a strict approach to lessen symptoms and it is usually recommended for a short period of time. It consists of
Frozen fruit pops or cut fruits
Specific Dietary Considerations
Even if the patient is on clear diet, it is vital to stay well hydrated and drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, which helps to maintain hydration and uplifts gastrointestinal health. Low FODMAP diet has shown to support people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it may also help people with diverticulitis as it could control high blood pressure in the colon and manage diverticulitis. Patients on clear liquid diet once the symptoms starts improving may slowly switch over to low fibre foods and then move to a high fibre diet.
Foods To Avoid
The dietary recommendations of diverticulitis is entirely different when compared with a flare up.
Certain foods are known to increase or reduce the risk of flares which include
High FODMAP foods
FODMAP is loaded with a certain type of carbs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, and disaccharides, monosaccharaides, and polyols. Some of the foods high in FODMAPS that should be avoided include:
Fruits such as apples, pears, and plums
Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and ice cream
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi
Onions and garlic
Red and processed meat
High sugary and fatty foods
Full fat dairy
Some of the preventive measures that may help patient to mitigate symptoms and improve overall health condition include:
Staying well hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids including water, lemonade, buttermilk etc.
Slowly increasing intake of fibre rich foods once symptoms settle.
Limiting intake of refined foods such as white rice, pasta, bread, etc.
Taking over the counter laxatives to regularise bowel movements and avoid constipation.
Getting regular physical activity.
Making the simplest bit of lifestyle modifications can greatly help a person suffering from diverticulitis to manage the condition well. These dietary modifications may be beneficial to lessen symptoms, alleviate pain, prevent complications and correct nutritional deficiency.