Foods to avoid for Diverticulitis

Written by jennifer l. clark
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Foods to avoid for Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is a digestive condition characterised by the formation and inflammation of pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon. (Getty Thinkstock)

Diverticulitis is a digestive condition characterised by the formation and inflammation of pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon. Symptoms include fever, constipation, and painful abdominal cramping. Because this is a condition of the digestive tract, eating habits can worsen the symptoms or even bring on attacks during an otherwise healthy time.

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Basics

The typically suggested diet during an attack of diverticulitis is liquid and low fibre, which gives your digestive tract a chance to rest, relax and heal. Although these attacks can be very stressful for the person suffering, stress will only prolong the symptoms and prevent your body from healing. Remaining calm is almost as important as avoiding certain foods during an episode. Generally, once you relax, control the pain, and adopt the correct diet to manage the situation, improvement can be seen within a couple of days.

Junk food

There's a list of foods that are difficult for the digestive system to process and so should be avoided during attacks of diverticulitis. Some of these foods will come as no surprise: for example, greasy "junk" food, which can include pizza, fried foods, hamburgers, and spicy foods. These foods put strain on your digestive tract and often make otherwise healthy people a little queasy.

Refined or processed

More foods to avoid include refined products such as white flour and white rice. These foods are much harsher on your digestive tract than their more natural counterparts. Brown rice and wheat flour tend to be easier to digest because they're closer to a natural form than the refined options. It's also recommended to avoid all processed food. All of those packaged dinners and quick-fix type meals that make up your weeknight diet are difficult for your digestive tract to process, again because they are so altered from their natural form.

Naturals

While it may seem like a very natural food, and is often quite bland and unassuming, corn and any corn product should be avoided during an attack of diverticulitis. Corn is not processed like other foods during digestion, and can pass through the digestive tract relatively unaltered, which is very stressful when the tract is already inflamed.

Several varieties of nuts and seeds fall into the group of foods that should be avoided during an episode of diverticulitis. Nuts in general are on this list, as all of them can be harder for the digestive system to process than other foods. The disallowed seeds, however, are limited mainly to sesame and pumpkin.

After

While some sufferers of diverticulitis return to normal eating habits after an attack has passed, that is really only inviting another attack to happen. To prevent subsequent episodes of diverticulitis, it's important to make lifelong changes to your eating habits. After an attack has passed, you should adopt a diet high in fibre, which will keep digestion moving regularly and prevent inflammation of the diverticula. It also may be advisable to switch to a "whole food" diet that is more natural than the typical modern diet.

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