A condition known as diverticulosis causes bulging pouches in the digestive tract, mostly the colon. Diverticula are common after age 40, and many people don't realise they have them. In some cases, however, the diverticula become inflamed and infected, causing diverticulitis. Symptoms of diverticulitis include pain and tenderness around the left side of the abdomen, as well as fever or bleeding. Knowing which foods to eat and to avoid both during and following an attack can make diverticula disease easier to deal with.
What to Eat During an Attack
During a flare of diverticulitis, a liquid diet is usually recommended. Water, clear soda, broth and plain gelatin are good choices.
What to Eat After an Attack
Once an attack of diverticultitis is over, a high-fibre diet is usually indicated since fibre helps soften stools, making them easier to move through the colon. The World Journal of Gastroenterology reports that vegetarians have a lower incidence of diverticula disease. The American Dietetic Association recommends adding 20 to 35g of fibre each day to one's diet.
Nuts and Seeds
In the past, physicians have recommended that people with diverticulitis stay away from all seeds and nuts, even small ones, since they might lodge in the diverticula and cause a flare. However, Michael Picco, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, says there is no scientific evidence that small seeds like those found in tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries aggravate diverticula disease. If you believe these foods aggravate your symptoms, though, stay away from them. Larger seeds like pumpkin and sesame, popcorn hulls and nuts should be avoided.
Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, brown rice, beans, whole wheat crackers, oatmeal and other grains. Gradually increase the amount of fibre so you don't experience gas and bloating.
If you have trouble consuming enough fibre each day, doctors may recommend fibre supplements such as Citrucel and Metamucil.