Diverticulitis diet: Foods to eat and foods to avoid

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Colon And Digestive | Saturday, December 03, 2016 - 05:30 AM

Diverticulitis diet: Foods to eat and foods to avoidDiverticulitis is a condition characterized by inflamed or ruptured diverticula, which are bulging sacs in the lining of the large intestine. Picking the right foods to eat and steering clear of certain foods to avoid is important for effective management of diverticulitis symptoms.

The risk of developing diverticula is usually higher for people over 40. Diverticula themselves do not cause many problems, but once the condition progresses into diverticulitis – when the sacs get inflamed or infected – it can be quite severe, leading to pain, nausea, and changes to bowels.

Mild diverticulitis can be easily treated with a proper diet. However, in cases of recurring and severe diverticulitis, surgery may be required.

Diet for diverticulitis

The purpose of a diverticulitis-specific diet is to allow the digestive system to rest and to promote healing.

A diverticulitis diet mainly consists of liquids and soft food. In the beginning, stick to broths, juices, and water to prevent any further irritation or complications. Eventually, you can work your way up to eat more solid foods – which should include fiber-rich foods. It may be wise to start with low-fiber foods and work your way up to high-fiber foods to see how you feel along the way.

Studies have shown the fiber-rich foods can help manage symptoms related to diverticulitis. Recommended fiber intake is 25 grams for women under the age of 51 and 38 grams for men. For women and men over the age of 51, the recommended fiber intake is 21 grams and 30 grams a day, respectively.

Fiber-rich foods include vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruits. If you are not eating enough fiber, your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement to help give you a boost. It’s important, though, to stay well hydrated when you increase your fiber intake to avoid pain and constipation.

Foods high and low in fiber

Food Group Low Fiber Foods High Fiber Foods
Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles White bread/ crumpets/ scones/English muffins

Refined breakfast cerealsInstant porridge

White rice/ pasta, sago, tapioca, semolina White flour, cornflour, custard powder

Plain sweet and savoury biscuits or cakes

Wholemeal/ wholegrain bread, crumpets, fruit bread/ rye bread

Wholegrain breakfast cereals or any with fruit, nuts or coconut

Rolled oats, oat bran, muesli bars

Brown rice, pasta, maize

Wholemeal flour, wheatgerm

Sweet and savoury biscuits or cakes made with wholemeal flour, nuts, dried fruit or coconut

Vegetables Ensure all vegetables are peeled and well cooked

Potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini

Cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus spear tips

Tomato and cucumber with skins and seeds removed

Lettuce, cabbage, green beans (chop and chew well) and button mushrooms

Spring onion

Well-strained vegetable juice

Tomato puree or paste

Where possible eat the skin when having vegetables

All other salad or vegetables

Fruit Pawpaw and melons (no seeds)

Banana (small amount), seedless grapes, cherries

Peeled peaches & nectarine

Well-cooked fruit with no skin or pips

Canned fruits except pineapple and mango

Well-strained fruit juice

Where possible, eat the skin when having fruit

All fresh fruit

Dried fruit

Dairy foods All varieties of milk

Plain yoghurt, custard, vanilla, plain cheese, plain or flavored ice cream

Ice cream containing dried fruit, nuts or coconut

Products containing “chunky fruit” pieces

Flavored milk with added fiber

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes All meat, chicken or fish.

Tofu

Eggs

Legumes e.g., baked beans, lentils, soy beans, kidney beans

Nuts

Peanut butter


Foods to eat and avoid with diverticulitis

As mentioned, foods you can eat are high-fiber foods for the most part, which are whole grains, rice, quinoa, vegetables, fruits like apples and bananas, potatoes, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

At first, you may opt for low-fiber foods until you start feeling better, then you can incorporate high-fiber foods.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluid to avoid constipation.

Foods to avoid with diverticulitis include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Gassy vegetables like broccoli
  • Whole grains that contain nuts or seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Sugary foods and soda
  • Acidic food
  • Refined food
  • Fried food
  • Alcohol
  • Corn and corn products

These foods can aggravate diverticulitis and prolong the healing period.

Diverticulitis meal plan to follow

The below sample meal plans for diverticulitis have been developed at Queensland University. Always consult with your doctor prior to beginning a meal plan.

Sample low-fiber meal plan Sample high-fiber meal plan
Breakfast: Cornflakes or Rice-bubbles, Milk, apple juice , white toast, margarine & honey

Lunch: white bread sandwich, chicken and avocado filling, vanilla yogurt

Dinner: grilled steak, mashed potato, steamed pumpkin, ice cream and tinned peaches

Snacks: Custard, yogurt, low fiber fruits (e.g. pawpaw, rockmelon, water melon), plain biscuit

Breakfast: wholegrain cereal such as porridge, All BranTM or muesli low fat milk banana, wholemeal toast

Lunch: wholemeal or wholegrain sandwich or roll chicken and salad, apple fruit yogurt

Dinner: grilled steak, jacket potato, broccoli and corn fruit salad, and ice cream

Snacks: Fruit, nuts, wholegrain biscuits or muesli bars


Other ways to maintain good digestive health and prevent diverticulitis

There are also some preventative measures you can try to lower your risk of diverticulitis.

Regular exercise, in particular, is beneficial for preventing diverticulitis because it helps keep bowels regular. Exercise also works to reduce pressure on the colon. Added pressure on the colon can lead to the formation of diverticula.

Other ways to maintain good digestive health include minimizing your intake of red meat, avoiding fatty foods, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, responding to bowel urges, reducing your use of NSAIDs (which have been linked to diverticulitis bleeding), and staying well hydrated.

Tips to help promote healing of diverticulitis include:

  • Resting your bowel – temporarily going on an all-liquid diet
  • Killing off bad bacteria in the gut with oregano oil
  • Re-populating the gut with good bacteria by taking probiotics
  • Resolving nutritional deficiencies – talk to your doctor about multivitamin supplementation
  • Detoxifying your environment – stop using toxic pans for cooking, for example
  • Resolving constipation

By implementing these tips as well as following any diverticulitis treatment your doctor recommends, you can have better success in improving your digestive health while preventing and treating diverticulitis.


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Related Reading:

Ulcerative colitis vs. diverticulitis: Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and complications

Diverticulitis complications: Rectal bleeding, peritonitis, abscess, fistulas, and intestinal obstruction

Sources:

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/nutrition/resources/gastro_diverticular.pdf

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