Have you just come back from your first colonoscopy and been told that you have diverticulosis? As you know, this condition means that tiny pockets have formed along the lining of your large intestine. For most people, this is a benign condition. However, some people find themselves dealing with ongoing symptoms of abdominal pain or tenderness and a change in their bowel habit, e.g. diarrhea or constipation.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to help to prevent ongoing minor symptoms, and hopefully also prevent an acute diverticulitis attack in which those tiny pockets known as diverticula become infected or inflamed. A preventative self-care plan would include the minimal use of alcohol, aspirin and NSAIDs, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Another important part of a preventative program is to eat a high-fiber diet.
Fiber for Diverticulosis
The recommended amount of fiber for the average adult is 20 to 35 grams per day. If your diverticulosis diagnosis means that you need to increase your intake of dietary fiber, it is strongly recommended that you do this slowly. Too much fiber, too soon, could result in symptoms of gas, bloating and diarrhea. It is also essential to drink lots of water to help your body to take best advantage of the fiber you are eating.
The best sources for fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains:
- Beans, such as black beans, kidney beans
- Brown and wild rice
- Fruits, all kinds, fresh and dried, raw or cooked
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetables, all kinds, raw or cooked
- Whole grain breads, cereals and pastas
Should You Avoid Nuts, Popcorn and Seeds?
It used to be standard advice for people with diverticulosis that they avoid nuts, popcorn, corn, seeds, and seeded fruits and vegetables for fear that these foods would get stuck in the diverticula, causing them to become inflamed. This advice is no longer considered to be valid. In fact, as these foods are a great source of fiber, it should be fine to include them as part of your regular diet.
Now that you have a diverticulosis diagnosis, your doctor may also recommend that you add the following to your daily diet:
- Fiber supplements: to ensure adequate fiber intake and to prevent constipation.
- Probiotics: as a possible measure for preventing diverticulitis.
Essential Reading from Dr. Bolen, Your IBS Expert:
"Diverticulitis Diet" Mayo Clinic Website accessed February 3, 2014.
"Diverticular Disease" National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) Accessed January 29, 2014.
Humes, D. & Spiller, R. "Review article: the pathogenesis and management of acute colonic diverticulitis" Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2014 39:359–370.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.