Diverticulitis is a condition where small pouches in the digestive tract known as diverticula become inflamed and or infected. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain in the lower left portion, tenderness, fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea. These pouches typically form after the age of 40 and their presence indicates a condition called diverticulosis; in many people, these pouches do not cause any problems but sometimes result in complications like diverticulitis. During an episode of diverticulitis, you will need to avoid certain foods to allow your digestive tract to heal. Depending on the severity of your condition, you might require hospitalisation.
What to Avoid During an Attack
Following a certain diet during a diverticulitis attack is crucial to getting better. The inflamed and infected diverticula need time to heal. You need to consume foods and beverages that put the least amount of stress on the digestive system and give it time to rest. The diet itself does not heal the condition, but improves symptoms and allows other treatments, like medications, to work. It is very important to follow all of your doctor's instructions regarding diet.
The following suggestions regarding what to avoid come from the Mayo Clinic. During the first two to three days of a diverticulitis attack, you will need to avoid food of all kinds and stick to a clear liquid diet. You cannot have fruit juices or ice pops with pulp, nonclear sodas, cream based broths or cream in your coffee or tea.
After two or three days, you can begin to eat solid foods again but you need to avoid high fibre foods including fresh fruits, raw vegetables, whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat, rye, bran, beans and legumes. Avoid nuts and seeds as well.
What to Eat During an Attack
During your first two or three days of healing, acceptable items for your clear liquid diet include clear broths and sodas, tea, coffee, pulpless fruit juices and ice pops, plain gelatin and water, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Once you ease back into a normal diet, stick to low-fibre foods including white flour foods, canned fruits, well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skin, eggs, dairy and meat.
Once you are healed, you will want to go back to a high fibre diet; it will reduce pressure in your colon by softening your stool and helping it pass more quickly through your digestive tract. The Mayo Clinic recommends 25g daily for a woman and 38g for a man; ideally, you want to shoot for at least 20g a day. If you find it difficult, consider taking a fibre supplement. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water daily; fibre soaks up water, which is what helps stool pass. Too much fibre and too little water can cause constipation.
Eat a low fat diet; aim for lean meats and low-fat dairy and increase your intake of low-fat foods like beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and whole soy foods. Avoid nuts and seeds.