Ideal Diet for Diverticulitis
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March 28, 2009, last updated July 8, 2016

By Natalia Real, Contributing Columnist, updated by Susan
Callahan, Associate Editor



Diverticula are tiny pouches or bulges in the lining of your
intestines. These tiny diverticula become more numerous as we
age, so that by the time we are 40, about 10% of us have them


But the incidence increases as we age.  B
y the time we are
aged 60,
up to 65% of all people in the US and the Western
world have these pouches in our intestines
, according to a
2003 study led by Dr. M. Delvaux of the Gastroenterology Unit,
CHU Rangueil, Toulouse, France.

The mere presence of these diverticula pouches is called
"diverticulosis".  

Diverticulitis is a different matter altogether. It's a complication
of diverticulosis.  Although the words sound similar, they
describe very different conditions.  If you merely have the
pouches, even if they're causing you no trouble, that's
"diverticulosis". If the pouches become inflamed and infected,
then you have "diverticulitis", which is a serious disease.  About
1 to 2% of the population develops the inflammatory condition
of diverticulitis.  What causes diverticulitis? Are there foods or
other natural remedies for diverticulitis or diverticulosis?

The interesting thing about these diverticula pouches in your
intestines is that they have only started to appear in any
significant numbers in the last 70 to 100 years.  Prior to that
time they did not even exist in the medical literature. According
to a 1971 article in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Neil
Painter and Dr. Denis Burkitt, "
This dramatic increase in
incidence occurred in only 70 years and cannot be explained on
a genetic basis... We believe that there is another possibility
and that the colon's environment has changed and that
diverticula are caused by the diet of so-called 'civilized'
countries
".


Typical symptoms include severe and sudden (or mild and
gradually worsening) pain in the lower left side of the
abdomen, abdominal tenderness, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills
and
constipation or diarrhea.   

Ever hear the saying “you are what you eat”? Well, it’s true!
Diverticulitis is thought to be caused, simply, by a lousy diet.
That means processed foods, meat, and little fiber—which
explains why diverticular disease is so prevalent in countries
like the US, England, and Australia, and rare among Asian and
African nations.   

The reason is that low-fiber diets make stools hard and difficult
to pass. The intestines and colon must strain, causing increased
pressure in the colon, which, in turn, can cause diverticula.
Pressure can also cause the diverticula to become infected.
Apart from an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise is a suspected
cause.  Your mission is, therefore, to
increase your fiber intake
to prevent and treat diverticulitis (its mild form, as serious
cases require surgery) and other like conditions.  

What is the ideal diet for diverticultis? What should you eat to
prevent diverticulitis? And what should you eat if you already
have diverticulitis?






























The Perfect Diet for Diverticulitis

The perfect diet for diverticulitis is a balanced vegetarian diet
with plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals,
grains, beans, and so on. (Read more about
foods rich in fiber.)

Bear in mind that this applies if the case is mild enough. If the
diverticula are so numerous or inflamed that fecal matter has
not been able to pass, then you need immediate medical care
and eating fiber is not recommended until after you have
surgery. At that point, no diet will substitute for the surgery
that you will need.

But, assuming that you don't have severe diverticulitis, and no
fever that would indicate a bad infection, adding fiber to your
diet will help.  But do it slowly.

As your digestive system will need time to adapt, increase your
fiber intake gradually over the course of 6-8 weeks. If you
experience
gas or bloating, know that for most people, it
passes after the first few weeks.

And, make sure that as you add fiber, that you also drink plenty
of water and have some good oil ---extra virgin olive oil, canola
--in your diet as well. Sufficient water and good oil will help
you to avoid getting constipated and creating more diverticula
by straining when you go to the bathroom.

Whether you’re ready to make the transition or not, here are
some hearty meal ideas:

Diverticulitis Breakfast

For breakfast, you can “cheat” by making a smoothie and
consuming several excellent sources of fiber at once: try
orange juice, a banana, strawberries, and a peach.

Or try soy milk, nut butter (peanut, sesame, almond, etc.),
banana, raw honey, and tofu (try the silken variety)—this
provides a fantastic amount of fiber, plus protein and many
vitamins and minerals.

Adding tofu and nut butter makes a meal out of your
smoothies, leaving you feeling satisfied.


For even more fiber, add g
round seeds (flax, sesame seeds,
sunflower
seeds, etc.) or ground nuts such as almonds or
walnuts
.

And if you eat cereals or bread, always stick to whole grain. My
favorite breakfast for a long time was whole grain toast with
soy cheese slices, hummus or guacamole, and slices of tomato.  
But good old-fashioned oatmeal works just as well, with a
sprinkle of walnuts and cinnamon, for
blood sugar control.

Add a teaspoon of honey or stevia cubes if you like it sweet.

Diverticulitis Lunch and Dinner

Basically, you want to include as many raw foods as you can—
salad is your friend! Feel free to sprinkle
your salads with
seeds, nuts, and dried fruits (e.g. raisins).

Love pizza? Substitute dairy cheese for soy or rice “cheese”
(hello fiber!) and load it with vegetables like broccoli, snow
peas, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Buy veggie burgers,
burritos, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, nuggets, and so on.

Try seitan and Boca’s grilled veggie burgers for a meaty texture.

Eat whole grain pastas and add different types of beans to the
sauce.

Make an epic stew with fiber-loaded grains like quinoa or
barley and add beans, seeds, and vegetables.

Try couscous with falafel, hummus, and a cucumber-tomato-
lettuce salad.  

Snacks and Desserts for Diverticulitis

Grab some fruit, dip crunchy raw vegetables in hummus and
guacamole or salsa, a handful of dried fruits and nuts, a
smoothie, vegetable and fruit juices, cereal bars, top your
sorbet and low-fat ice cream or yogurt with nuts and berries
(even better if you sub the dairy for soy), and so on.

Cake? Sure. A moderate slice with a decent side of fresh fruit.  
Want more ideas? Check out fiber-rich recipes in vegetarian
cookbooks and websites everywhere.  And before you scoff at
me, try it. You’ll see how delicious healthy eating can be—and
how much better you’ll feel!    

Add Almonds to Combat Diverticulitis

Think almonds. You may have heard that eating nuts is not
recommended for diverticulitis sufferers.

Update: But a 2008 study has found that just the opposite is
true. Researchers from the University of Washington and
Harvard medical School have found that
eating nuts does not in
any way increase your risk for diverticulosis.



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