Diverticulitis Prevention: Can You Avoid This Illness?
The best strategy to prevent diverticulitis is to consume a diet with high amounts of fiber. Adequate amounts of fiber in your stool can help prevent constipation, allowing waste to move easily and preventing you from putting pressure on the colon during bowel movements.
Dietary fiber also fuels beneficial bacteria to produce compounds that help regulate your immune function.There are two kinds of fiber in foods, namely soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that makes stools softer and larger, so they can be passed easily through the intestine.
Meanwhile, insoluble fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to stool, which helps move waste through the digestive system. You can get both soluble and insoluble fiber from plant-based foods. To ensure that you’re getting equal amounts of both, you should add a wide variety of fiber-rich foods in your meals.
For example you can take organic psyllium. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and not only promotes healthy digestion, but also heart health, weight control, blood sugar support, and more.
Just three servings of psyllium per day can give you as much as 18 grams of dietary fiber, bringing you closer to the recommended minimum of 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed.
Have a health professional go over your vitamins and supplement intake first before you add anything to it. Taking psyllium along with other supplements can cause you must distress.
Physicians have previously recommended diverticulitis patients to avoid eating nuts, seeds, and popcorn, as they believe these can get lodged in the pouches and cause or worsen the infection.
However, modern research1 found that there’s no evidence linking these foods with diverticular disease, and therefore may be safe to eat.2 Other ways to help prevent diverticulitis – or diverticular disease in general – include:3
- Avoid overconsumption of red meat.
- Avoid foods loaded with unhealthy fats, as they may lead to intestinal blockage and worsen diverticulitis symptoms.
- Get enough regular exercise.
- Drink plenty of liquids, ideally pure clear water. This is especially important if you are consuming a high-fiber diet. Without enough fluids, the fiber will only add bulk to the stool and will not soften it, which may lead to constipation.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of complications from diverticulitis.
- Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as they have been linked to diverticular bleeding.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Some people think that drinking coffee can help their stools to pass, but this is actually a wrong approach. Caffeine is a diuretic that can lead you to lose water in your body, causing stools to harden. Excessive caffeine may also cause your colon muscles to contract, preventing stool from passing through smoothly.4
- Do not delay your bowel movements. This can harden stools and increase the strain on your colon muscles, which can then lead to diverticular disease. You should be having three bowel movements per day to keep a healthy colon.
Diverticulitis Diet: Foods to Eat and What to Avoid
If you have a mild case of diverticulitis, your physician will likely prescribe a specific diet as part of your treatment plan. While it may not completely treat the illness, it can give your digestive system a chance to “rest,” so that it can recover from the infection.
Most physicians will recommend that you consume a high-fiber diet. Fiber softens your stools, allowing them to pass through your intestines and colon more quickly and easily. Some of the best fiber-rich foods include:1, 2
- Vegetables (artichokes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, and broccoli) and vegetable juices
- Fruits, including raspberries, blackberries, pears, apples, and avocados
- Legumes, such as navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and split peas
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur
But in severe diverticulitis cases, switching to a high-fiber diet too soon may not be effective, and may only worsen the symptoms. Instead, your physician will likely recommend a clear liquid diet first.3
Liquids You Can Take for Diverticulitis
Start by eating homemade bone broth, made from lamb, beef, chicken, or fish, and with some cooked vegetables and meat. This will help heal leaky gut syndrome, boost your immune system, and heal the digestive tract.4
Bone broth provides you with easily digestible nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. The gelatinous collagen in bone broth also has amazing curative properties. It is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, hence supporting proper digestion.
Aside from pure and clear water, Ginger tea is another soothing drink that you should add to your diet. Sip on warm ginger tea two to three times daily, as it will help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. This healing food works wonders on your immune and digestive systems.
Other Recommended Foods for Diverticulitis
Once your diverticulitis symptoms have lessened, you can move on to consuming easily digestible foods, ideally grated, steamed, and pureed fruits and vegetables. Avoid those that have tough skins and small seeds that may accumulate in the diverticula sacs. Some of the best choices are carrots, beets, grapes, apples, lettuce, and watercress. You can juice them, but leave out the fibrous areas until your body has adjusted to them.
When you feel better, you can start to add fiber-rich foods, including raw fruits and vegetables and unrefined grains, such as fermented grains, black rice, quinoa, and sprouted lentils, to your diet.
Remember that digestion starts in the mouth, so make it a habit to chew each bite of your food thoroughly, or until it is nearly liquefied. The more you break down the food before it goes to your stomach, the more readily absorbed the nutrients become.5
Food plays a great role in how you manage diverticulitis, so remember to discuss your diet needs and restrictions with your physician. Write down your questions, and make sure that you clarify which foods are safe and which ones are not. You can also ask for a referral to a nutrition specialist who can help you come up with a well-balanced meal plan to alleviate your condition.6
IF you have any questions or concerns about prevention of this disease or any disease please call us.
Health and Wellness Associates