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Why You Should Try the Diverticulosis Diet

bowl of cherries and chicken

After coming back from your first colonoscopy, you might have been told that you have diverticulosis and you are wondering which diverticulosis diet to you should follow for your meals. Note that the doctor could have recommended antibiotics or other over-the-counter medications as the treatment option.

If your diverticulosis has advanced, you may need surgery, but what you incorporate in your breakfast, lunch and dinner also matters. So, what is the diverticulosis diet? This article offers you insights into diverticulosis, what the disease is all about, the benefits of adopting a diverticulosis diet and why you should try it.

What Are Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis?

appetizer

Diverticulosis is a condition in which small, sac-like pouches or tiny pockets form on the colon’s lining. The pouches usually develop anywhere in the digestive tract, but are mostly formed in the colon. The condition is benign for most individuals.

When those pockets lead to inflammation or are infected, the condition becomes diverticulitis. This affects some individuals who then suffer ongoing symptoms of abdominal pain or tenderness and a change in their bowel habits, such as constipation and diarrhea. Statistical estimates establish that the disease affects 5-10% of the U.S. population by age 50. It also affects the west and developed nations, mostly.

Having a risk of developing diverticular disease is correlated with a history of constipation, age, obesity, lack of physical activity and a lack of fiber in your diet. Some studies have suggested that in Asia and Africa, where diets are of high-fiber composition, citizens there rarely suffer from the disease. Diverticulitis has been established in 50% of Finland population, thanks to that country’s diets with low-fiber composition and an aging population.

Diverticulitis involves anything from a small abscess in one or more of the colon pouches to a massive infection or even a perforation of the bowel.
The symptoms of this disease include cramping on the left side of the abdomen that typically disappears after passing gas or moving your bowels. In addition, you may notice bright, red blood in your stool.

First Steps After Diagnosis.

bland diet

Factors that might contribute toward the formation of the tiny pockets in the large intestine/colon are that hard stool is pressing against the walls of the large intestine. As such, the stool may take longer to pass through. However, there are things you can do to avoid the minor symptoms and even help prevent diverticulitis.

  • Limit use of alcohol
  • Get regular exercise
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Attempting to undertake all the above can definitely help prevent diverticulitis. Also, since a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor, you should make sure you do not sit for long periods of time. Try getting up and moving around each hour and make a daily exercise routine a habit.

And, watch what goes in your mouth. You should ensure you drink enough water among other fluids in the day. The experts say to aim for your urine to be clear or light yellow most of the day.

Most importantly, adopt a high-fiber diet.

The Benefits of a Diverticulosis Diet

Diverticulitis can be mitigated by switching to a diverticulosis diet, which is a high-fiber diet. The recommended amount of fiber for the average adult is 20 to 35 grams daily. If you have diverticulosis, you need to increase your intake of dietary fiber. We recommend doing this slowly as too much fiber at first could cause symptoms of diarrhea, bloating and gas. It is also important to drink a lot of water to help your body take advantage of the fiber you are eating.

Increased dietary fiber increases fecal mass, which experts suggest it increases the size of the lumen, preventing fecal stasis and excessive muscular contraction pressure or force that is transferred from the contents in the lumen to the colon’s wall.

The best sources of fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. For a diverticulosis diet, we recommend:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Whole-grain bread, cereals and pasta
  • Vegetables of all kinds, raw or cooked
  • Beans, such as black beans and kidney beans
  • Fruits of all kinds, fresh and dried, raw or cooked

Most Beneficial Foods

Fiber is beneficial to the digestion of food and digestive health. This is because it promotes good bacteria and keeps the digestive tract moving and clean. It also helps bulk the stool so it becomes easier to pass.

If you are looking for the best foods with a high-fiber content and a certain number of grams in each serving, then the following foods are the best:

  • Kidney beans (1/3 cup): about 7.9g
  • Bran cereal (1/3 cup): about 8.6g
  • Lentils (1/2 cup): about 7.8g
  • Chickpeas (1/2 cup): about 5.3g
  • Black beans (1/2cup): about 7.6g
  • Baked beans (1/2 cup): about 5.2g
  • Soybeans (1/2cup): about 5.1g
  • Pear (1 medium): about 5.1g
  • Apple (1 medium): about 3.3g
  • Sweet potato, with skin (1 medium): about 4.4g
  • Bulgur (1/2 cup): about 4.1g
  • Green peas (1/2cup): about 4.4g
  • Mixed vegetables (1/2 cup): about 4g
  • Blackberries (1/2 cup): about 3.8g
  • Raspberries (1/2 cup): about 4g
  • Almonds (1 ounce): about 3.5g
  • Vegetable or soy patty: about 3.4g
  • Spinach, cooked (1/2 cup): about 3.5g
  • Dates, dried (5 pieces): about 3.3g

Why You Should Try It

.strengthen bones

You need to try the diverticulosis diet since is the best chance to prevent diverticulitis. For many years, doctors have advised people with diverticulosis to eat seeds, nuts or popcorn, which they believed could block diverticula openings and contribute to flare-ups of diverticulitis. However, research has not proved that eating these foods increases the risk of developing the disease, and doctors no longer make this recommendation. Foods with a high-fiber content are high in vitamins and other nutrients, and it is best to get the fiber you need from food.

In addition, high-fiber foods in a diverticulosis diet help in promoting good bacterial growth, but the foods also contain active cultures that promote good digestion and prevent constipation.

Is Too Much Fiber Bad?

Too much fiber is bad and you need to be mindful of this since some studies have shown that eating too much fiber (over 50g daily) may lead to diverticular diseases by causing constipation. Keep in mind that fiber bulks the stool and, therefore, you also need to consume it with water. The recommended dietary fiber should be between 20 grams and 35 grams daily. Note that there are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that makes stools softer and larger. Allowing them to pass smoothly and easily through the intestines. Insoluble fiber helps to move waste in the digestive system through the absorption of water and adding bulk to the stool.

Nutritional Needs for People with or At Risk of Diverticulitis

Naturally occurring, high-fiber foods are recommended for everyone, especially for those at-risk for developing diverticulitis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines suggest the inclusion of varying protein sources. This implies increasing the intake of fish and enjoying plant-based proteins along with vegetarian meals. If you have trouble adjusting to the new diverticulosis diet, we recommend consulting a dietician.

Foods You Should NOT Try

toast bread and peanut butter

If you already have diverticulitis and suffer from an irritated digestive system, then we advise you wait until your inflammation is under control before you introduce fiber into your diet again. Until symptoms of abdominal pain or diarrhea subside, you should take in a low-fiber diet of less than 15 grams daily. Foods low in fiber (less than 2grams per serving) include:

  • Bread, white (1 slice)
  • Beef, poultry, and fish (3 ounces)
  • Cottage cheese (½ cup)
  • Egg (1 whole)
  • Cream of wheat, instant (¾ cup)
  • Green beans, canned (1/2 cup)
  • Fruit juice (1/2 cup)
  • Ice cream (1/2 cup)
  • Mashed potatoes, no skin (1/2 cup)
  • Lettuce, all types (1 cup)
  • Milk, all types (1 cup)
  • Peaches, canned (1/2 cup)
  • Pasta, white (1/2 cup)
  • Yogurt (6 ounces)
  • Soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk (1 cup)
  • Pears, canned (1/2 cup)
  • Rice, white (1/2 cup)
  • Tofu (1/2 cup)
  • Pudding or tapioca (1/2 cup)
  • Tuna, canned (3 ounces)
  • Nut butter (smooth), including peanut, soy, almond or sunflower (2 tablespoons)

Supplements

If dietary restrictions, however, prevent you from consuming all you need at meals, your doctor may recommend fiber supplements. These include:

  • Psyllum, present in Konsyl and Metamucil, and sold in capsules, granules, as a liquid or as a water
  • Methylcellulose-based supplements, like Citurel, sold in granular or powder form
  • Chicory root fiber, oligofructose, inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which may increase good bacteria or immunity

Conclusion

Diverticulosis is a condition where tiny pockets form on the colon’s top layer that could develop into diverticulitis by becoming inflamed or infected. Consuming fiber is vital for those diagnosed with diverticulosis, as well as those at-risk of developing it due to their history of constipation, age, obesity, lack of physical activity and lack of dietary. This is why it is best to adopt a diverticulosis diet.

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