Diverticulitis Diet, Nutrition
Excess pressure exerted on the walls of the colon, while emptying one’s bowels, sometimes lead to the formation of small bags or pouches called diverticula. The presence of one or more diverticula is referred to as diverticulosis. In case the diverticula develop an infection, the condition is known as diverticulitis. The inflammation and infection is a result of food or fecal matter getting trapped in the small pouches. A low fiber diet is a major cause for diverticulitis, and this accounts for the disease to be more common among Americans as opposed to Asians and Africans. Diverticulitis responds well to medication, but a carefully chosen diet plan becomes a requisite as well.
A diverticulitis diet should be administered depending upon the intensity of the inflammation. The initial aim should be to reduce the inflammation and pain. During this period, the diverticulitis diet should be a very low residue one that consists of less than 10 gm of fiber per daily allowance. This helps the intestine to heal faster as the load on the intestinal walls is also reduced. In the initial days of being affected, a liquid diet for diverticulitis is well suited to soothe the pain and inflammation. An easily digestible diet menu consisting of softly cooked and smashed rice and vegetables is a good choice. In case the healing period is delayed, your physician may also prescribe a multivitamin supplement so that the body is not deprived of the essential nutrients. Once the healing has set in, it is now imperative to seek out ways to prevent future spells of diverticulitis. A high fiber diet for diverticulitis is the essence of rightly addressing the issue. Include at least 40 gm of fiber in your daily consumption of food. Fiber can be of soluble and insoluble kind. Soluble fiber forms a soft pulp that passes easily through the intestines. Insoluble fiber does not change its form and is expelled as such from the body. Fiber provides the required roughage in your diet that eases off any pressure on the walls of the colon and wards off any signs of constipation. Along with the high fiber foods, it is essential to follow a bland diet for diverticulitis. Spicy and seasoned foods are best avoided as they can irritate the lining of the intestines and cause an inflammation to flare up.
A diverticulitis diet plan should include a high fiber diet menu, if there is no inflammation, and a low fiber diet menu, if inflammation and pain is present. When an infection is present, the patient is required to consume a diet low in fiber. This may consist of softly cooked foods like smashed rice and vegetables or fruits. Once the infection has subsided, the person has to try to stick to a diet comprising foods rich in fiber. Including bran in your breakfast is a good start. Have fresh fruits and vegetables in plenty. Apples and pears are rich in fiber, so are dates and prunes in the dried fruits category and broccoli and spinach among the vegetables. Include 3 to 4 servings of vegetables between lunch and supper and 2 to 3 servings of fruits throughout the day. In addition to these foods, adequate exercise and plenty of water and fluids are also a requisite to keep constipation at bay. This facilitates the smooth functioning of the intestinal muscles, and the diverticula do not get trapped with any debris or food material.
Foods To Eat & Avoid Diverticulitis
Foods for diverticulitis include those within the high fiber category. Once the pain or inflammation has set in, then the foods to eat with diverticulitis should be carefully chosen. Include foods that will not create further constipation but are also easily digestible by the body. Softly cooked rice and vegetables or fruits do not exert any pressure on the inflamed intestinal walls and help in the healing process.
Foods to avoid diverticulitis should be able to provide ample roughage so that fecal matter travels through the intestines and get expelled from the body without any strain. Hence, a high fiber diet plan with plenty of water and fluids for hydration is to be consumed on a daily basis. Foods that cause diverticulitis are best avoided to prevent further flare ups. Highly processed and refined foods are not suited for persons with a history of diverticulitis. Fatty foods and meat as well as fried foods are also best avoided. Certain foods that aggravate diverticulitis include hot and spicy foods and those containing a lot of seasoning. They irritate the lining of the intestines and can result in further inflammation or a bout of diarrhoea. Nuts and the seeds of certain fruits and vegetables are also considered to aggravate diverticulitis further by getting entrapped in the pouches in the intestinal walls. However, in certain cases, seeds can move smoothly through the intestines and get expelled easily from the body.
Nutrition for diverticulitis supports the choice of foods high in dietary fiber. Natural fiber rich foods are preferred over supplements as they provide the vitamins and nutrients as well. Diverticulitis nutrition therapy works well, owing to its multiple benefits, i.e., including more fiber in your diet helps also in maintaining blood cholesterol and sugar levels. The bulk added to the fecal matter helps in easy bowel movements and better intestinal health. High fiber content in your diet also aids in loss of body weight. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes and plenty of fluids constitute a high dietary fiber intake. This also reduces the chances of haemorrhoids and the formation of further diverticula or pouches.
Diverticulitis patients are to be put on a diet menu consisting of very low fiber content. This low residue diet may should contain vitamin B complex, vitamin A and vitamin K. Vitamin A helps heal the lining of the large intestine and therefore it is extremely beneficial for patients of diverticulitis. Vitamin K regulates digestion and functioning of the liver. Al these vitamins benefit the digestive system in some way or another.
Supplements for diverticulitis sufferers are given to make up for the deficiencies of vitamins in their diet. Diverticulitis nutritional supplements include multivitamins to provide sufficient nutrients required for the body. The B vitamins provide strength to the nerves and folic acid as well. Vitamin E strengthens the muscles of the intestine and vitamin C aids in faster recovery and detoxification of the body. Fiber supplements for diverticulitis include supplements consisting of psyllium husks or crushed bran. They provide added roughage or bulk to the stools and help in easy defecation.
Herbs for diverticulitis include flaxseed and chamomile, which aid in adding bulk to and softening the stool. Natural herbs for diverticulitis strengthen the walls of the intestines. Marshmallow, licorice, and cat’s claw have anti-inflammatory properties and help with treating diverticulitis in a natural way. All natural herbs should be taken under the supervision of a general physician, lest they interfere in the action of other drugs.
Diverticulitis symptoms include:
- Sharp, lower abdominal pain, followed by tenderness in that area
- Bleeding in the stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloating with irregular bowels or even diarrhea
Diverticulitis causes are not clearly known. However, some of the common causes are as follows:
- A diet low in fiber can be a major cause of the formation of diverticula or pouches.
- Food particles or fecal matter entrapped in these bags can result in inflammation.
Diverticulitis treatment would include the following measures:
- A liquid diet with antibiotic treatment
- Severe cases may require intravenous antibiotics and medication
- Once the inflammation has subsided, a diet rich in fiber
When it comes to diverticulitis prevention, the following can be kept in mind:
- Consume a diet high in dietary fiber
- Stay away from red meat, processed foods, and spicy foods
- Exercise regularly
- Stay hydrated
- Diverticulitis diagnosis can be done by using any of the following methods:
- Barium X-rays and colonoscopy give a clear picture of the colon
- CT scans and ultrasound scans detect the presence of any pus in the cavities