Adults with diverticular disease are no stranger to uncomfortable bloating, lower abdominal pain, and constipation. Once diagnosed, many patients continue to have flare-ups, which can make eating a necessary evil of every day. It doesn’t have to be that way if you follow these diet tips!
What Is Diverticular Disease?
Almost 50% of adults over the age of sixty suffer from diverticular disease, although young adults can also be susceptible.
Small pouches can develop and protrude out of the lining of the colon. These protrusions are known as diverticula, and when multiple patches occur, it is known as diverticulosis. Inflammation of these pouches is what causes the swelling and pain that signals an infection of the diverticula, which is known as an entirely separate medical condition called diverticulitis. This inflammation can result in obstruction, bleeding, or an abscess. The best early treatment is a diet of clear liquids or low fiber foods along with antibiotics to tamp down the inflammation.
In the past, patients were warned to avoid a high fiber diet, especially one that contained nuts and seeds. Today most gastroenterology and colorectal specialists believe that a gradual increase in fiber will prevent future flare ups.
So, what type of diet is best for someone with diverticular disease?
Ease Your Way into a High Fiber Diet
High fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes help to soften stool and pass it through the colon faster, plus it helps to lower inflammation. Start slowly, and gradually add more fiber to your diet over the course of several weeks and months. Eventually, 25 -30 grams of fiber a day should be your goal.
Drink lots of fluids to balance out the fiber. A minimum of eight cups of water every day will help.
It is always better to eat smaller portioned meals at a more frequent rate during the day compared to just a few large meals.
It is important to chew your food thoroughly and take your time eating. Individuals are also encouraged to take small bites of food to make them a bit easier to digest.
Stay away from fatty foods, processed meats, and fried foods. Instead, choose more lean cuts of meat and types of fish that are loaded with protein. If you are a fan of poultry, first take the skin off chicken to bypass the high content of fat in that area.
Other Diet Tips for Patients with Diverticular Disease
- Stock up on kidney and black beans
- Fresh fruit is a good choice especially pears, apples, and prunes
- Add in brown and wild rice
- Quash, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach are excellent veggies
- Whole grain pasta, breads, and cereal are beneficial
One Last Tip: Exercise
Not only does exercise help you to maintain a healthy weight, but it also promotes bowel movements and aids in preventing constipation. Patients can experience incredible improvements when staying active while also maintaining a proper diet.
Make an appointment with Colorectal Surgical Associates if you have any symptoms of diverticular disease, as this condition needs to be diagnosed and monitored appropriately to avoid severe outcomes.
As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Colorectal Surgical Associates, please call (816) 941-0800 today!