Diverticulitis Best foods to eat preventing diverticulitis

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DiverticulitisBest foods to eat preventing diverticulitis

A common recommendation for treating diverticulitis, an infection of small bulging pouches called diverticula that can form inside the colon, is to use antibiotics or over-the-counter medications prescribed by doctors. If a case of diverticulitis has significantly progressed, surgery may be the course of treatment. But if you want to avoid this scenario to begin with, start by paying attention to what you are eating.

What is diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis is a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticula) form inside the lower part of the intestine, usually along weak spots in the wall of the colon.  These pouches push outward along the wall of the colon and are the problem associated with diverticular disease.

When the diverticula become irritated, swollen, or inflamed, this can lead to infection (diverticulitis) or may cause a blood vessel in a pouch to burst open and bleed.  Most people will not be aware if they have any diverticula lining the colon if they have no symptoms such as an infection or bleeding. This then is referred to as diverticulosis.  For those individuals without symptoms, one way they may discover they have diverticulosis is when a colonoscopy is performed. 

It is estimated that diverticulitis affects 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population by age 50.  Risk factors associated with diverticulitis include age, history of constipation, obesity, lack of exercise, and a lack of fiber.

Why is fiber important for preventing diverticulitis?

Fiber is such an important component of your diet that most of us fail to consume enough.  The average American consumes about 15 grams a day, far below the recommendation of 25 grams for women each day and 38 grams daily for men. Fiber is found only in plant-based foods and serves an important role in the digestive process.  It helps create a softer, bulkier stool making it easier to move through the colon to pass on out of the body. These larger, softer stools actually help “exercise” the walls of the colon, preventing the formation of diverticula. A lack of fiber can result in constipation, in which stools are small, hard and more difficult to move through the colon, putting a strain on the muscles of the colon.

Since diverticula typically form in areas where digestive muscles are strained or weak, constipation may make the development of diverticula more likely. As pressure from constipation builds up in the colon, this can lead to inflammation or infection of diverticula that are already present in the colon, causing diverticulitis.

Best foods for preventing diverticulitis

Think of fiber as your friend for good digestive health. Not only does it help prevent constipation but it also promote good bacteria, keeps the digestive track clean, and creates a full feeling preventing overeating.

If you want to avoid a bout with diverticulitis, you will be wise to choose more high-fiber foods.  Here are some of the best high-fiber foods to eat and how many grams of fiber they each provide:

·      Bran cereal (1/3 cup) – 8.6 grams

·      Kidney beans (1/3 cup) – 7.9 grams

·      Lentils (1/2 cup) – 7.8 grams

·      Black beans (1/2 cup) – 7.6 grams

·      Chickpeas (1/2 cup) – 5.3 grams

·      Baked beans (1/2 cup) – 5.2 grams

·      Pear (1 medium) – 5.1 grams

·      Soybeans (1/2 cup) – 5.1 grams

·      Sweet potato, with skin (1 medium) – 4.4 grams

·      Green peas (1/2 cup) – 4.4 grams

·      Bulgur (1/2 cup) – 4.1 grams

·      Mixed vegetables (1/2 cup) – 4 grams

·      Raspberries (1/2 cup) – 4 grams

·      Blackberries (1/2 cup) – 3.8 grams

·      Almonds (1/4 cup) – 3.5 grams

·      Spinach, cooked (1/2 cup) – 3.5 grams

·      Vegetable or soy patty – 3.4 grams

·      Apple (1 medium) – 3.3 grams

·      Dates, dried (5 pieces) – 3.3 grams

There was a time when doctors would advise patients with diverticulosis not to eat nuts, seeds, or popcorn, believing those foods would block the openings of the diverticula and lead to flare-ups of diverticulitis. But research has never proven that eating these foods increases the risk of developing diverticulitis and therefore, this recommendation is no longer valid.

If you do have restrictions on consuming the amount of fiber you find in food sources, then you may need a supplement which could be one of the following:

·      Psyllium – Found in supplements such as Metamucil and konsyl, this can be in the form of a powder, liquid, granule, capsule or as a wafer.

·      Methylcellulose – This supplement is found in Citrucel and typically sold in powder or granular form

To promote good digestive health in general which can also help prevent diverticulitis, here are foods containing active cultures of bacteria promoting good digestion. When you combine eating foods rich in fiber and good bacteria, it’s a win-win situation for not only preventing diverticulitis but also promotes good bacterial growth while preventing constipation that can lead to developing diverticulitis.

Begin incorporating the following foods into your diet more often:

·      Greek yogurt

·      Kefir

·      Kimchi

·      Miso

·      Kombucha

·      Sauerkraut