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Diverticulitis Diet


Diverticulosis is the presence of multiple diverticula (a herniation through the muscular wall of a tubular organ), a condition where the inner lining layer of the large intestine protrudes out through the outer muscular layer. Diverticulitis is an inflammation of diverticula in the digestive tract (especially the colon), characterized by painful abdominal cramping, fever and constipation.

The colon weakens with age and chances of developing diverticula increase with advancing age. As the pressure inside the colon increases, especially due to constipation, it causes pea shaped pouches in the intestinal wall.

Up to 50% of people above 50 years develop some diverticula irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not and by the age of 90, almost everyone has diverticulosis. The presence of diverticula on its own is usually symptom free.

Symptoms usually manifest when wastes and bacteria get trapped in the pouch. The supply of blood to the area is restricted by the blockage and the infection that sets in causes diverticulitis. Severe infections may also cause the tissue to rupture. This leads to the spread of bacteria to the lining of the abdominal cavity and a possibility of obstruction in bowels.

A fiber rich diet is normally recommended for relieving constipation, which can reduce the problems associated with the condition. Increased fiber consumption involves a daily intake of 25 to 30 grams ensuring that at least 6 to 8 grams comprise of soluble fiber.

The process of increasing fiber in your diet should be gradual because a sudden increase in fiber consumption can lead to gas, cramping, bloating or diarrhea. Insoluble fiber gives bulk to stool and should be accompanied by increased fluid and water intake (at least 1.5 liters daily) for easy elimination.

A diverticulitis diet with high fiber content provides other benefits as foods rich in fiber contain nutrients like Vitamins A, C and E and selenium. Easy elimination can also assist in your plans to lose weight.

A low fiber diverticulitis on the other hand may necessitate taking supplemental minerals and vitamins. You may choose from various weight loss supplements that may assist in natural weight loss along with relieving symptoms of diverticulitis.

There is however, a contrarian’s view that suggests that a low residue diet should be consumed when diverticulitis flares up to decrease bowel volume. This, they believe allows the infection to heal.

Diverticulitis is much more common in males (as much as three times more than in females) and occurs in the left side of the large intestines in most cases. In presence of divergent views, much depends upon the advice that you get from your doctor regarding dietary recommendations for managing diverticulitis.

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One Response to Diverticulitis Diet

  1. Hadley Matthews June 16, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    This post is good starting point information for anyone dealing with this condition. Below are some additional prevention/treatment ideas to consider:

    1. Regular exercise – while I don’t know of any specific research linking exercise and diverticulitis, I have read that there is a direct relationship between exercise and regularity. Regular exercise also helps strengthen the muscles that surround the intestines which improves transit time.
    2. Improve regularity with a diet rich in whole food fruits and vegetables.
    3. Once you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis, there is no reversing it so the best thing you can do is keep the pressure low. An herbal colon cleanse can help evacuate impacted waste which will help your body better absorb nutrients and improve your overall health.

    I hope this information is helpful.

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