The Best Diet for Diverticulitis
by Brad McHargue
At times, small pouches known as diverticula can form in the digestive system, typically in the large intestine. The condition is known as diverticulosis. When the diverticula become inflamed, causing pain, the condition is known as diverticulitis. Although potentially serious and possibly requiring surgery, diverticulitis usually can be treated through lifestyle changes, especially diet.
Diverticulitis presents with many symptoms, including: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and constipation, sudden pain in the abdomen--typically in the lower left side, that can be mild or severe--and abnormal bowel habits. Less common symptoms include bloating and rectal bleeding. Should you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
The cornerstone of a healthy diverticulitis diet is fiber, which works by helping to soften stools, allowing them to pass more easily through the colon. Gradually adding plenty of fiber, 20 to 30 g per day, can help reduce pressure on the digestive tract and decrease the amount of pain. Foods that contain fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. To reduce the risk of bloating, fiber supplements such as Metamucil and Citrucel may be used instead. Remember to drink plenty of water when consuming fiber. A lack of water and excess fiber can lead to constipation.
Avoid foods high in fat or spicy foods that can exacerbate symptoms. When faced with the urge to use the bathroom, do not hesitate and seek out facilities immediately. Holding in waste when it wants to come out can lead to harder stools and increase the pressure on the colon, which can exacerbate the pain. Additionally, get regular exercise--30 minutes a day--to promote a healthy digestive system and state of mind.