A Definition of Diverticulitis and What You Should Eat to Avoid It
July 23, 2013
Jason Lau, R.D., and Jennifer Maeng, Dietetic Intern, suggest how certain foods can prevent diverticulosis and – by association -- diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis vs. Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis occurs when pouches form in the wall of the colon. These pouches -- called diverticula -- are formed when the muscles of the colon squeeze against a hard stool. The pressure created in the colon by the digestive musculature pushes the lining of the colon outward in areas where there are no muscles. Over time, the outward pressure on the colon lining causes permanent pouches to form in between the colon muscles.
Once these pouches are formed, they can become inflamed. This condition is known as diverticulitis. Common symptoms of diverticulitis include, but are not limited to:
• Sudden, severe pain in the lower abdomen
• Nausea and vomiting
• Adjustment in bowel habits
In the past, it was recommended that people with diverticulitis avoid hard-to-digest foods such as nuts, corn and seeds. These foods were believed to me most likely to get stuck in the pouches and lead to inflammation. However, there is now evidence to suggest that the aforementioned foods – often high in fiber – may actually help to prevent diverticulosis from occurring in the first place.
What should I eat to help avoid diverticulosis?
Consuming a high-fiber diet is thought to reduce the risk of developing pouches in the colon and minimize symptoms for those who already have diverticulitis. Don’t worry too much about what type of fiber to get, but instead focus on eating a balanced diet which will provide a variety of soluble and insoluble fibers and all of their related health benefits. Learn more about the role of fiber in the human diet.
Drinking water is a great way to help the fiber you consumed function within your body. Water helps move high-fiber foods through the digestive system smoothly and may help reduce flatulence that some people may experience when they increase fiber consumption.
Probiotics are known as the “friendly” bacteria that are found in our digestive system which may help reduce inflammation in the bowel for diverticulitis patients. Some sufferers might be prescribed antibiotics for their condition and -- by consuming them -- can help reestablish the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Find out more about natural sources of probiotics.
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