Medical conditions can often have similar terms that may cause confusion. For instance, diverticulosis and diverticulitis are related conditions but are not the same. Diverticulosis occurs when pockets form in weak areas of the digestive tract, usually in the colon, whereas diverticulitis is the inflammation and infection of one or more of these pockets, often due to tearing, as explained by WebMD and the Mayo Clinic.
If a person has diverticulosis, it can progress to diverticulitis, which may cause tenderness or pain in the abdomen, constipation or diarrhea, as well as other symptoms such as fever, nausea, and vomiting. Diverticulitis can also lead to complications like bowel blockage or abscesses with pus in the pockets, and a ruptured pocket can be a medical emergency.
Naturally, one may want to prevent such issues, and adjusting the diet may seem like a sensible approach since diverticulitis involves the digestive tract. However, the Mayo Clinic cautions that there is no one-size-fits-all food plan or diet to avoid diverticulitis-related health problems.
Different people may react differently to trigger foods, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before making any changes to the diet. Nonetheless, there are foods that are commonly recommended as beneficial or detrimental for diverticulitis, but personalized medical advice should always be sought.
Drink: Fruit juices without pulp
During flare-ups of diverticulitis, healthcare professionals may recommend a special diet, according to the University of California San Francisco Health. This diet typically consists of two parts. First, the patient may be put on a clear liquid diet, followed by a low-fiber diet under the supervision of a medical professional, with the goal of eventually returning to a normal diet.
The specific foods advised for the liquid diet may vary depending on the healthcare professional’s recommendation. Fruit juices without pulp are often included, such as apple and grape juice, as noted by UCSF Health.
White cranberry juice is also considered a good option, according to Healthline. While orange juice should be avoided, lemonade made without pulp from another citrus fruit is generally acceptable. Popsicles made from fruit juice are also allowed as long as they do not contain pulp or fruit bits.
FODMAP may sound like a navigation app, but it actually stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, as explained by Medical News Today. In simpler terms, foods high in FODMAPs can potentially cause digestive issues. There is a theory that a diet high in both FODMAPs and fiber could exacerbate problems related to diverticulitis, according to the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
If you guessed that onions are considered high FODMAP foods and may pose problems for individuals with diverticulitis, you are correct, as noted by IBS Diets. Onions contain oligosaccharides, denoted by the “O” in FODMAP, which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, as explained by registered dietitian nutritionists Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames to Eat This, Not That! It’s not just the large onion bulbs to watch out for, but also small pickled onions and onion powder, which are listed as high FODMAP foods on the IBS Diets website. Even gravy made with onions should be taken into consideration.
However, the green part of scallions, also known as spring onions, is considered a low FODMAP food, while the white part of spring onions is considered high FODMAP, according to the IBS Diets site. It’s important to always consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet.
In TV shows and movies, patients at hospitals often complain about eating Jell-O. However, if you have diverticulitis and your healthcare professional prescribes a clear liquid diet, they may recommend gelatin as a suitable food option, as stated by Healthline.
It’s important to understand the relationship between gelatin and collagen. Collagen is derived from various parts of animals, such as tendons, skin, cartilage, bones, and muscles, and is used to produce gelatin, a protein, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and WebMD.
Research conducted on rats has shown that gelatin can help strengthen the walls of the intestines, reducing the risk of damage. Additionally, one of the amino acids found in gelatin might have benefits for a condition called leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal lining develops holes and cracks, leading to inflammation and other health issues, as explained by Harvard Health Publishing.
However, not all gelatins may be suitable for individuals with diverticulitis. Some gelatins may contain fruit bits, and during the clear liquid phase of the diverticulitis diet, fruit chunks and pulp are not recommended, according to Healthline.
Avoid: Red meat
When asked to name a red meat, most people would likely say “beef.” However, as highlighted by the Cleveland Clinic, veal, lamb, and pork are also considered red meats. Interestingly, there is evidence to suggest that all of these meats could potentially exacerbate diverticulitis.
According to the Colorectal Clinic of Tampa, data supports the notion that both red and processed meats may worsen diverticulitis symptoms and increase the risk of developing diverticulitis in the first place. For instance, a study conducted by Harvard involving 46,000 men aged 40 to 75 found that those who consumed an average of 13 servings of red meat per week were more likely to develop diverticulitis compared to other participants over a span of 26 years. The study also revealed that when these men replaced one of their daily red meat servings with fish or poultry, their risk of diverticulitis decreased by 20%.
However, it’s worth noting that, according to Northwest Surgical Specialists, LLP, the acceptability of red meat for diverticulitis patients may depend on its consistency and preparation. Therefore, it is important to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the suitability of red meat in your specific case of diverticulitis.
While increasing water intake can be beneficial for diverticulitis, it’s important to note that it’s not a cure-all for this condition, as highlighted by MedicineNet. The severity of diverticulitis can vary, and multiple lifestyle changes and treatments may be necessary to effectively manage it. However, a liquid diet is often prescribed to promote healing from diverticulitis.
In discussing water, diverticulitis, and digestion, it’s crucial to address the role of constipation. According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), some medical experts believe that inadequate consumption of fiber on a regular basis can lead to constipation, which can increase the risk of diverticulosis.
This is because constipation can make bowel movements more difficult, potentially leading to the formation of pockets in the digestive tract. Once these pockets form, diverticulitis can develop. In fact, MedicineNet notes that constipation is a significant cause of diverticulitis.
Drinking sufficient water can aid in promoting regular bowel movements, thereby reducing the risk of inflammation in the intestines, as noted by MedicineNet. However, it can be challenging to maintain an adequate daily water intake. Therefore, Self recommends simple tricks, such as drinking water while waiting for a meal or snack to cook or microwave, to help incorporate more water into your daily routine.
Avoid: Milk and cream
Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis are distinct conditions, Healthline suggests that they may benefit from a similar diet. To fully understand this, it’s essential to discuss the differences between high and low FODMAP foods. FODMAP is an acronym for certain compounds that are found in varying amounts in different foods and beverages. For individuals with diverticulitis or IBS, a low FODMAP diet may be recommended by their healthcare professional.
Following a low FODMAP diet involves avoiding high FODMAP foods, which may include soy milk and cow’s milk, as explained by University Hospitals. Some patients with diverticulitis may experience increased pain and nausea after consuming milk, as noted by Intermountain Healthcare.
In fact, Health points out that high-fat dairy products such as cream and whole milk may not be advisable for individuals with diverticulitis. Board Certified Gastroenterologist Dr. Anu Sampat further advises against adding cream to tea or coffee during the clear liquid stage of a diverticulitis diet.
However, it’s important to note that Northwest Surgical Specialists, LLP states on their website that certain dairy products may be acceptable for patients in the low-fiber stage of their diverticulitis diet.
Additionally, pain and nausea experienced due to diverticulitis could also be influenced by caffeine intake, as noted by Intermountain Healthcare. It may vary depending on the specific case of diverticulitis, and consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial for individualized dietary recommendations.
Try: Chicken broth
Although there may not be a book series called “Chicken Broth for the Soul,” this simplified version of chicken soup could be beneficial for individuals with diverticulitis, as advised by Dr. Kathryn A. Boling, a primary care provider with Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville in Maryland, as reported by SingleCare. Going on a clear liquid diet that includes chicken broth can alleviate pressure on the bowels, facilitating the healing process.
In addition to helping with bowel healing, consuming chicken broth can also aid in avoiding dehydration, as highlighted by WebMD. Dehydration can cause constipation, and it is often the underlying cause of chronic constipation, as explained by WebMD.
Insufficient water intake prompts the intestines to extract more water from waste materials, resulting in hard stools and difficulty in passing bowel movements. This can strain the colon, leading to the formation of pockets, as elucidated by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Furthermore, chicken meat contains carnosine, a compound known for its potential to combat inflammation, which is a hallmark of diverticulitis, according to Mayo Clinic as cited by WebMD. However, if following a clear liquid diet, it is important to refrain from adding solid chicken bits to the chicken broth.
Avoid: Whole grain foods
As per MedlinePlus, individuals recovering from a severe diverticulitis flare-up may need to avoid foods made from whole grains, at least initially. However, before delving further into this, let’s clarify what constitutes a whole-grain food, as explained by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grain products are derived from foods such as barley, wheat, oats, cornmeal, and rice. Refined grains have parts of the grains’ kernels removed, whereas whole grains retain the entire grain. Additionally, whole-grain breads and similar products are known to be high in fiber, according to MedlinePlus. But wait, isn’t fiber generally considered beneficial?
Indeed, the right amount of fiber in one’s diet can be highly beneficial, particularly for digestive health. However, caution should be exercised with fiber intake when recovering from diverticulitis. Healthcare professionals often recommend a gradual reintroduction of fiber, starting with low-fiber foods.
High-fiber whole wheat and whole rye breads, for instance, could potentially be harsh on the colon as it heals from diverticulitis.
During the recovery from diverticulitis, it is common for individuals to follow a low-fiber diet to relieve pressure on the colon and facilitate healing, as noted by Saint Luke’s Health System. Eggs can be a suitable choice for maintaining a low-fiber diet, as explained by the USDA.
Grade A, large, white eggs contain no fiber, but are rich in protein (10.7 grams) and contain 19 amino acids, which are essential for various bodily functions, including tissue repair, according to MedlinePlus. This is particularly relevant in the context of diverticulitis, as inflammation and infection can occur when a pocket in the digestive system tears, as stated by the Mayo Clinic. Furthermore, amino acids play a role in food digestion.
In addition to aiding in the recovery from diverticulitis, eggs may also help reduce the risk of developing this condition in the first place. Obesity is a known risk factor for diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding, as indicated by Gastroenterology.
Incorporating protein-rich eggs into a weight management meal plan can be beneficial, as many factors contribute to obesity, and eggs can be a nutritious addition, as highlighted by Medical News Today.
Even if you’re following a low-fiber diet due to diverticulitis, it’s not necessarily a requirement to eliminate all vegetables from your diet, as noted by Northwest Surgical Specialists, LLP.
For instance, certain vegetables like peeled and well-cooked white potatoes may be allowed on a low-fiber diverticulitis diet. However, they do recommend avoiding raw vegetables, as well as specific canned and frozen varieties, with broccoli being the first vegetable on the list to avoid.
So, why is broccoli, a vegetable typically praised for its health benefits, potentially problematic for individuals with diverticulitis? According to the USDA, 100 grams of raw broccoli contains 2.4 grams of insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve in water, unlike soluble fiber, as explained by GoodRx.
Insoluble fiber is known to be more fibrous, which may pose difficulties for the digestive system that is trying to heal from diverticulitis by keeping fiber intake low. Moreover, broccoli is also considered a high FODMAP food, as indicated by Healthline. Avoiding high FODMAP foods could also be beneficial for individuals with diverticulitis, according to Healthline.
Try: Vegetable juice
While raw vegetables may not be recommended for individuals with diverticulitis as they allow the body to heal, Dakota Dietitians suggest that strained vegetable juice can be a suitable option for a low-fiber diverticulitis diet, and some vegetable juices contain little to no fiber.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vegetable juice is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, while generally having lower amounts of fiber. For instance, the USDA states that 100 grams of shelf-stable tomato juice made from concentrate contains no fiber. In comparison, a Roma tomato of the same weight contains 1 gram of dietary fiber, and 100 grams of grape tomatoes contains 2.1 grams of dietary fiber, as per the USDA.
However, it’s important to carefully read the Nutrition Facts Label of vegetable juices before incorporating them into your diverticulitis diet. For example, the aforementioned tomato juice contains nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, but it also contains 236 mg of sodium, according to the USDA.
Additionally, other vegetable juices in the market may contain additional ingredients that may not be advised by medical experts. Therefore, it’s crucial to have detailed discussions with your healthcare professional about the foods and beverages you plan to consume during your diverticulitis recovery.
Avoid: Fatty foods
Diverticulosis and diverticulitis, although distinct conditions, are both aspects of diverticular disease, as stated by the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. Furthermore, having a family history of diverticular disease increases the likelihood of developing it, underscoring the importance of being cautious about dietary choices not only for healing from diverticulitis but also for preventing its occurrence.
For instance, there may be a link between fatty foods, such as fried foods, and diverticular disease, as suggested by Livestrong. Fatty foods can contribute to constipation, which some medical experts believe can strain the colon and potentially lead to the formation of pockets (diverticulosis), as per Cleveland Clinic. Once pockets are present, there is a risk of diverticulitis. Moreover, high-fat foods can potentially obstruct these pockets, further increasing the risk of diverticulitis.
However, eliminating fatty foods entirely may not always be necessary for individuals with diverticulitis. Stanford Hospital & Clinics advises reducing consumption of greasy, fried foods only if a diverticulitis patient experiences symptoms such as gas, cramping, bloating, or diarrhea. Therefore, it is essential to consult a medical professional to determine the best dietary approach for your individual condition.
Try: White bread
While white bread is not typically considered a healthy food choice due to its refined flour, which is lower in nutrients compared to whole wheat bread, it does have an advantage when it comes to diverticulitis: its lower fiber content.
As explained by registered dietitian Stacey Pence from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to Insider, 100% whole wheat bread can contain four times more dietary fiber per serving than white bread. In most cases, opting for 100% whole wheat bread is a healthier choice.
However, for individuals with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastroparesis, diverticulitis, or experiencing diarrhea, a lower-fiber diet with more refined grains, including white bread, may be recommended, as noted by Pence. Additionally, Drugs.com lists white bread as a potentially beneficial low-fiber food that may be helpful during symptomatic episodes of diverticulitis.
Let’s discuss the controversial topic of alcohol and diverticulitis. On one hand, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of developing diverticulitis, with some sources reporting up to three times higher risk, as explained by the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons. Alcohol is also listed as a food to be cautious with in the recommended diet by Western Sussex Hospitals for lowering the risk of developing diverticulitis.
However, there are gaps in our understanding of the relationship between alcohol and diverticulitis, as noted by The Healthy. Some experts believe that alcohol may impact the colon, potentially increasing the likelihood of developing both diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
A meta-analysis published in the Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health found a potential connection between alcohol consumption and diverticulosis development, suggesting that alcohol might affect the transit time of material through the colon. However, the same review could not conclusively determine if alcohol increases the risk of diverticulosis or diverticular bleeding, and recommended further research.
If you have diverticulitis or a family history of the condition, it’s important to discuss your alcohol consumption with a medical professional to understand how it may impact your individual risk of developing this condition.
In conclusion, a healthy diet, tailored to individual needs and health conditions, plays a crucial role in managing and preventing diverticulitis. High-fiber foods are generally recommended, but during flare-ups or for specific conditions, a low-fiber or refined grain diet may be necessary. Caution should be exercised with fatty foods and alcohol. Consulting with healthcare professionals for personalized dietary recommendations, along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can support overall digestive health and potentially reduce the risk of diverticulitis.