Diverticulosis and diverticulitis together are called diverticular disease. Diverticula are small outpouchings in the wall of the colon (large intestine). They’re thought to happen because the colon walls develop weak spots.
The ultimate cause is not well understood, but it is now presumed to be from a combination of lifestyle factors, age, and genetics. Diverticula are common, especially in people over age 50, but they don’t usually cause symptoms. Indeed, many people don’t know they have any until they’re seen during a colonoscopy.
However, if diverticula become inflamed, they can cause diverticulitis, which can be painful and inconvenient. This article will describe the lifestyle changes that may help avoid a diverticulitis flare-up and what to do when one occurs.
Years ago, it was thought that diverticulitis was caused by eating high-fiber foods or foods, such as nuts, seeds, or corn. The theory was that these types of food could get stuck in the diverticula and cause an infection. It’s now understood that eating a high fiber diet may help avoid complications from diverticular disease.
Foods to Eat
Most people don’t have a problem because of their diverticula. Others, however, may develop diverticulitis, which in some cases can be chronic (comes back over and over). In that case, eating high-fiber foods or a modified diet might be part of a prevention plan.
During a flare-up, a healthcare provider might recommend a clear liquid diet for a few days. A liquid diet includes:
- Coffee (no milk)
- Plain, clear fruit juices (no pulp)
- Plain gelatin (Jell-O)
- Popsicles (no solid pieces of fruit or pulp)
- Water (including ice)
When starting to feel better, and when your healthcare provider says it’s OK, more foods can be added slowly back into the diet. The next step on