Dealing with diverticulitis? You can still eat that.

July 30, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

A diagnosis of diverticulitis no longer means you have a long list of foods to avoid.

At one time, doctors recommended avoiding nuts, popcorn, seeds and even fruits or vegetables with seeds (like tomatoes or strawberries). But recent studies suggest those foods do not contribute to flare-ups and are fine to eat.

Diverticulitis is a disease that affects your digestive tract and causes inflamed pouches in the lining of your stomach.

The pouches are formed when weak spots in your intestines give way and bulge out. It can lead to serious symptoms, including severe abdominal pain, bloody bowel movements, and an inflamed or infected pocket of tissue.

A number of factors may lead to diverticulitis, including genetics, using certain medicines, obesity, smoking and not exercising.

If you are having a flare-up, your doctor may put you on a low-fiber or clear liquid diet for a time to give your digestive system a chance to rest and heal.

Some low-fiber foods to consider during a flare-up include:

  • White bread, white rice or white pasta
  • Processed fruit like applesauce or canned peaches
  • Low-fiber cereals
  • Yellow squash, pumpkin or zucchini (skins removed and cooked)
  • Potatoes with no skin
  • Cooked spinach, beets or asparagus
  • Fruit and vegetable juices

A clear liquid diet would include water, ice chips, gelatin, ice pops, broth and coffee or tea without any cream, flavors or sweeteners.

Once your condition improves, your doctor may recommend a high-fiber diet. Fiber softens and adds bulk to stools, helping them pass more easily through your colon. Fiber also helps reduce pressure in the digestive tract.

Men over the age of 51 should have a daily fiber intake of about 28 grams, and women of the same age should have about 22 grams of fiber each day, according dietary guidelines.

Some high-fiber foods you may want to consider adding to your diet include:

  • Whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and brown rice
  • Beans, such as black beans or kidney beans
  • Fresh fruits like apples, pears or prunes
  • Vegetables such as spinach, peas or potatoes

A listing of many foods and the fiber content can be found here.

It also is important to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day helps you stay hydrated and promotes gastrointestinal health.

Your doctor will help guide you as you gradually add fiber back into your diet following a flare up and discuss treatment options, which could include surgery, to address any concerns related to your diagnosis.

If you’re having digestive problems, the earlier you seek treatment, the better. The gastroenterologists at Edward-Elmhurst Health are experts in diagnosing and treating digestive health issues.

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