Diverticulum is a pouch-like protrusion developed along the colonic wall. Diverticula result from the herniation of mucosa and submucosa through the weakened points of muscular wall of the colon. The colonic diverticula are considered to be false diverticula, as they don’t consist of all layers of the colonic wall. The formation of diverticula is referred to as diverticulosis and this condition is characterized by the absence of symptoms. When diverticula get infected or inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis.
The major factors involved in the pathogenesis of colon diverticulitis are intake of low-fiber diet, obesity, inactive lifestyle, excessive caffeine intake, unhealthy habits like smoking and alcoholism as well as medications like corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Diverticulitis is also linked to aging. With advanced age, the intestinal walls become weak. When the stool passes through the bowels, it increases pressure inside the colon, resulting in the formation of diverticula.
In the most cases of uncomplicated colonic diverticulosis, there may not be any noticeable symptoms. However, some people may experience bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. Diverticulitis gives rise to very painful symptoms like pain and tenderness generally in the lower left side of the abdomen, bloating, nausea, vomiting, alteration in bowel movements like diarrhea or constipation and high fever. In chronic and severe cases, there may develop certain complications like formation of fistula, abscesses, perforation, infection and peritonitis.
Colon Diverticulitis Treatment with Diet
Along with medications, it is very important for the diverticulitis sufferers to strictly follow the dietary restrictions. When you have diverticulosis, you are advised to have high-fiber diet. Fiber helps soften the stool, so that it can easily pass through the colon and thus prevents constipation. It also reduces pressure in the colon and prevents flare-ups of diverticulitis. Some of the examples of high-fiber foods are beans like black beans and kidney beans, legumes, brown rice, whole wheat bread, bran, whole grain cereals like oatmeal, fruits like apples, pears and bananas and vegetables like carrots, spinach, squash, corn and broccoli. You should gradually add fiber to your diet in order to avoid abdominal discomfort and bloating. Your daily requirement of fiber is at least 25-30 grams. Additionally, you should drink at least 8 glasses of water to avoid constipation.
During the flare-ups of diverticulitis, you need to relax your bowels to give them enough time for healing. For that, you have to remain on clear liquid diet, which includes clear broth, plain water, clear fruit juices without pulp, ice pops as well as tea or coffee without cream. When you are able to digest solid foods, you can slowly low-fiber foods to your daily diet. These foods include low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, eggs, poultry, low-fiber cereals, canned or cooked fruits without skin or seeds, canned or well-cooked vegetables, white rice and white bread. Once the symptoms are completely gone within 3-5 days, you may slowly switch to high-fiber diet. If high-fiber diet doesn’t ease the symptoms, then fiber supplements are recommended. Additionally, other nutritional supplements like iron, vitamin B complex and vitamin C are also advisable.
Along with dietary changes, you need to follow a regular exercise regime to improve the functioning of bowels as well as to maintain the healthy body weight.