Diverticulosis is a chronic condition where there are sac-like pouches protruding from the large intestine. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is then known as diverticulitis.
The most commonly suspected cause of diverticulosis is a low fiber diet. Consuming low fiber can lead to constipation, which can make it difficult to pass stool and lead to straining. This straining can put pressure on the colon, which may lead to the development of the sac-like pouches. Individuals with diverticulosis should consume a high fiber diet to prevent constipation. A high fiber diet should include an additional 6 to 10 grams of fiber beyond what is typically recommended (25 to 35 grams a day). Foods high in fiber include:
- Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, and other grains
- Fruits such as prunes, apples, bananas, and pears
- Fruit and vegetables with skin/peel on
- Beans, peas, and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grain breads, pastas, crackers, and cereal Previous recommendations include avoidance of nuts, seeds, and hulls. There is no evidence to show this contributes to the development of diverticulitis, therefore the current nutrition recommendations focus on increased fiber.
When the sac-like pouches become inflamed or infected, your doctor may recommend no foods by mouth to allow your large intestine to rest. As you begin eating foods again you should slowly begin with low fiber foods that are easy to digest. Foods low in fiber include:
- Tender well-cooked meats
- Smooth peanut butter
- Cream of wheat and grits
- Refined grains such as white bread and cereals made with white flour
- Canned and/or well-cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
- Mashed potatoes
- Canned, soft, and/or well-cooked fruit, or fruit juice without pulp
As the infection and inflammation heals, fiber can slowly be added back into the diet.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.