Finding the right foods for diverticulosis is important for those suffering from this condition. In this article, we’ll get into what foods aggravate diverticulosis as well as the foods to avoid with diverticulosis. But before we begin, let’s learn a little more about this condition.
Also referred to as diverticular disease of the colon, this is the formation of a large number of tiny sacs or diverticuli in the walls of the digestive tract, generally in the large intestine. Factors necessary for the formation of diverticuli are:
- Weak points in the intestinal wall
- Increased pressure within the intestine. This can occur when the feces are small and hard, and the muscles of the intestine must contract strongly to move them.
The foods described here reduce the risk of the formation of diverticuli, or that keep them from increasing in size if they already exist. What they cannot do is cause them to disappear once they have been formed. When diverticuli become inflamed because of fecal material that has not been eliminated, it produces a serious disease called diverticulitis. This is a complication of diverticulosis that must be treated in a hospital with a strict diverticulosis diet plan, and occasionally, by surgical means.
Foods for Diverticulosis
WATER: Drinking sufficient water each day (6 or 7 glasses) is essential to keep the feces from becoming dry and to facilitate their proper passage through the digestive tract without undue pressure.
FIBER: The greater the consumption of fiber-rich foods, the lower the risk of diverticulosis. Fiber is not absorbed and remains in the intestine. As it retains water, it increases fecal volume and softness, which facilitates their movement. Fiberless feces are hard and dry, which forces the intestines to contract harder to move them. This hyper pressure fosters the development of diverticulosis.
WHOLE GRAINS: Whole grains are the best foods for diverticulosis. They’re a great source of dietary fiber. Oats are the grain that provides the greatest soothing and protective effect for the digestive tract.
FRUIT: All fruits are good sources of soluble fiber. All of them, even those with astringent action, soften the feces and improve intestinal movement. This helps avoid the formation of diverticuli.
VEGETABLES: These are good sources of soluble fiber, in particular, and improve intestinal function, avoiding excess pressure that results in diverticuli.
LEGUMES: All legumes contain a beneficial amount of fiber, which helps prevent diverticulosis.
WHEAT BRAN: Almost half the weight of wheat bran is fiber, but if it is used in excess (more than 30 g daily), it can cause bowel irritation and affect the absorption of minerals. Supplemental bran fiber is unnecessary with a healthful diet for diverticulosis rich in natural plant-based foods. Wheat bran also:
- Compensates for the lack of fiber in the diets based on refined foods, although eating whole grains is preferable to eating refined grains and adding bran to compensate.
- Prevents constipation: It is necessary to take from 20 to 30 g a day for at least a week to achieve the desired effect.
- Reduces cholesterol levels, although oat bran is much more effective.
- Reduces the risk of diverticulitis, colon cancer, coronary disease, and breast cancer.
Diverticulosis Foods to Avoid
REFINED BAKED GOODS: Baked products made with refined flour, including white bread, contain very little fiber. This promotes hard feces and the intestinal pressure that leads to diverticulosis.
TOTAL FAT: A broad study conducted at the Harvard University School of Public Health that included 47,888 males concluded that a high-fat, fiber poor diet more than doubles the risk of diverticulosis.
MEAT: Meat is completely lacking in fiber. Consequently, an excessively meat-based diet reduces fecal volume and increases intestinal effort. The study cited earlier concerning total fat also found that a high meat diet that is poor in fiber significantly increases diverticulosis risk.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 311, 217.[foods for diverticulosis]