Diverticulitis involves your colon. It occurs when small, sac-like pouches — or diverticula — develop in the top layer of colon tissue and become infected or inflamed.
Common signs of diverticulitis include:
Treatment for diverticulitis varies based on the severity of your condition, from rest and antibiotics to minimally invasive colon resection. However, dietary changes play a crucial role in managing your condition, regardless of which treatment you require.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, is a top-ranked surgeon in McKinney, Texas. At his practice, Surgical Associates of North Texas, you can receive state-of-the-art treatments for colon issues, including diverticulitis.
If you have diverticulitis, here’s what you need to know about nutrition.
As mentioned, diverticulitis is a condition in which small, sac-like pouches develop in the top layer of the colon, and then they get inflamed or infected. One of the common reasons why these pouches, or diverticula, develop is due to constipation.
Unfortunately, constipation is common in Western societies. And this may be due, in large part, to the prevalence of low fiber diets.
So then, you may wonder: Would eating a high fiber diet be the answer to treating diverticulitis? After all, fiber fights constipation by softening stools so they can move through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract easier and more comfortably, right? While that’s true, what you should eat actually depends on what stage of diverticulitis you’re in at a given time.
For example, a diverticulitis flare-up requires one approach, and then you need diet management once your condition is under control.
When you have a diverticulitis flare-up, your symptoms arise because the pouches in your colon become inflamed or infected. Because of that, it’s important to avoid irritants, and that often means reducing fiber intake for a time.
During this stage of diverticulitis, you can expect to follow a clear liquid or low fiber diet along with antibiotics and rest. As you might expect, a clear liquid diet only includes clear liquids, such as broths and pulp-free juices, and this diet is only followed for a short period of time. In most cases, you can expect to move on to a low fiber diet within a few days, even if your pain doesn’t subside.
Foods you can often eat on a low-fiber diet include:
Similarly, there are foods you should avoid in the midst of a flare-up, including high fiber options, such as whole grains, seeds and nuts, beans, and many fruits and vegetables.
You typically follow a low-fiber diet (8-12 grams per day) until your symptoms subside. At that point, you can often start increasing your fiber intake again over several days and then resume a high-fiber diet.
To avoid diverticulitis flare-ups, you should strive for 25-35 grams of fiber each day. For the best results, you should aim to consume minimally processed plant-based options, such as:
On top of that, your diet should consist of a variety of food groups, and you should limit your consumption of red meats, processed foods, and high-fat options.
And you should also drink at least 64 ounces of water a day and exercise regularly, both of which can help keep waste moving through your system.
Do you have diverticulitis symptoms? Learn more about your treatment options at Surgical Associates of North Texas by calling 972-947-2264 or booking a consultation online today.