Diverticulitis is a condition of the large intestine, in which small pouches or diverticula developed on the lining of the intestine become infected or inflamed. The formation of diverticula is usually associated with aging. Due to aging, the pressure of hard stools passing through the weakened intestine causes formation of diverticula. The condition is more common in people after age of 40. When diverticula get infected by the bacteria and become inflamed, it gives rise to the symptoms like abdominal pain in the lower left side, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, changes in bowel habits, high fever, malaise and bleeding from the rectum in rare cases. Consumption of low-fiber food is the major cause of diverticulitis. Lack of exercise, obesity and smoking can also increase the risk of diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis can be treated depending upon the severity of the symptoms. The mild cases can be healed with home care and dietary changes. In severe cases of diverticulitis, medications like antibiotics and surgery may be required.
Diet for Diverticulitis
Diet is considered to be an important aspect of treatment of any disease. It plays a significant role in healing process. When you suffer from any health condition, you are suggested to avoid certain foods and to take certain foods in more quantity. Because there are certain foods that could be harmful for your health condition, while specific foods can speed up recovery. The same is applicable in case of diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis diet is intended to relax your digestive system. It is usually recommended along with antibiotics for mild or uncomplicated cases of diverticulitis. Since low-fiber diet is the leading cause of diverticulitis, the diverticulitis diet recommends the consumption of the foods rich in fiber. Fiber softens and makes the stool bulky, allowing it to pass easily. It helps to prevent constipation and decrease the pressure in the colon. It can prevent flare-ups of diverticulitis.
When you experience severe symptoms of diverticulitis, you are recommended to take liquid diet as a part of treatment. The purpose is to make the intestines relaxed for some time. The clear liquid diet includes water, broth, clear soda, fruit juices like apple or grape juice without pulp or skin, ice chips, ice pops without fruit pulp or bits of fruit, plain gelatin and tea or coffee without cream.
Once you start feeling better, you can gradually switch to low-fiber foods. These foods include canned or cooked fruits without seeds or skin, canned or cooked vegetables like peas, potatoes and green beans, fish, eggs, poultry, fruit juice without pulp, milk, cheese, low-fat yogurt, low-fiber cereals, white rice, pasta and noodles. Once you start following antibiotics course and diverticulitis diet, you may feel better within 2-3 days. When the symptoms are completely gone, you may start with regular diet with expert advice.
Your regular diet should include foods that contain high amount of fiber such as whole grain breads, cereals, pastas, fresh fruits like pears, apples and prunes, vegetables like potatoes, peas, squash and spinach as well as beans like kidney beans and black beans. Your daily fiber intake should be at least 25-35 grams, so that you can prevent recurrent diverticulitis. The doctor may also recommend taking fiber supplements such as methylcellulose or psyllium one to three times a day. When you are taking fiber-rich diet, don’t forget to drink of water and fluids to avoid constipation.
Along with medications and diet, regular exercise as well as balanced lifestyle is also important to prevent the painful symptoms of diverticulitis.