Diverticulitis occurs when the wall of your colon becomes infected or inflamed. A fiber-rich diet may help you control symptoms. Here are foods to avoid.
People with diverticulitis may complain of feeling bloated, having painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, chills, or fever. Diverticulitis mostly affects people aged 60 and older.
It occurs when the wall of your colon becomes infected or inflamed. Doctors aren’t sure what triggers diverticulitis. They believe a low-fiber diet can play a part in causing it and that switching to high-fiber diet can promote healing.
Foods to avoid for diverticulitis
If you have diverticulitis, you should avoid eating:
- Breads with seeds
Those items can get stuck in the pouches in your intestines (or the small tears in the diverticulum) and cause infections. Some doctors believe that there’s no evidence that these foods cause problems. The sensible course is to talk to your doctor.
If have diverticulitis, your doctor will first prescribe a liquid diet to ease the inflammation and ensure maximum bowel rest. After a few days of drinking water, fruit juice, broth, and ice pops, your doctor will advise you to start introducing low-fiber foods slowly to your diet because they are easy to digest and may slow down bowel movements.
Low-fiber foods, such as cooked vegetables, white breads, fruits, and meats, help decrease diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
High-fiber foods for diverticulitis
Eventually, your doctor will want you to switch to a diet that is rich in high-fiber foods.
A diet that’s high in fiber is the best option, except if your digestive tract is inflamed or torn. Most doctors believe a diet that contains no or low-fiber foods might cause diverticulitis and diverticulosis, a condition that doesn’t show any signs of inflammation.
The American Dietetic Association recommends eating 20 to 25 grams of fiber each day. High-fiber foods include:
- Whole grains
- Dark vegetables
Serving rice with beans adds fiber and protein to your diet. The options are plentiful. Beans you can enjoy include:
For rice, you can choose brown, red, and wild. Quinoa and bulgur are easy to make, taste good, and provide a nice alternative to rice. Both are high in fiber and protein.
Unsweetened oat cereals, steel cut oats, and regular oatmeal are high in fiber. Unsweetened oat cereals can be filling and delicious if you add fresh berries and yogurt. You can also enjoy whole wheat toast, which contains more fiber than white bread.
You can add fruits to cereals. Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries all contain between three and four grams of fiber. A mango has five grams, while raspberries have the highest fiber content (a cup of raspberries has eight grams).
Other changes you can make
If you have diverticulitis, your doctor may suggest that you take a fiber supplement, such as psyllium, a soluble fiber used as a gentile laxative that’s available in pill form and powders you can mix with water. It’s recommended that you take psyllium with a glass of water. You don’t need to drink eight glasses of water each day. That’s a myth; you do, however, need to stay hydrated.
Drinking water is important because staying hydrated keeps you from getting constipated. It also softens your stools, allowing them to pass through your colon without a lot of pressure.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is studying the effects of probiotics (the good kind of bacteria often found in yogurt) on diverticulitis. They do contain a fair amount of protein.
In addition to eating a high-fiber diet, you should exercise daily because it will help keep your bowels regulated.
November 01, 2023
Janet O’Dell, RN