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Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

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Diverticulitis is an extremely unpleasant digestive disease.
Those diagnosed know it’s worth taking measures to avoid future episodes. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 will have another flare up within five years. In this video I’m looking at what diet changes may help treatment, as well as some common myths about foods to avoid.

Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

Just to clarify, Diverticulosis refers to having diverticula (the small pockets that form in your large intestine) that have not yet become infected and painful.
Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula become inflamed or infected.
So diverticulosis always occurs before diverticulitis. And together these two conditions are known as diverticular disease.

Unfortunately the risk of diverticulosis increases as we grow older, to about 70% of people aged 80 and above. Fortunately, it only progresses to diverticulitis about 4% of the time.

The first thing I want to look at is probiotics, which are bacteria we eat for health benefits.

Studies show a variety of different probiotic strains are effective in reducing symptoms of diverticulitis. Particularly those of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei.[ and this was seen in tandem with a high fiber diet]

They’ve also been successfully combined with the anti-inflammatory drug Mesalamine to help reduce acute symptoms. However, it’s uncertain if they reduce the risk of recurrence.

The best food sources of probiotics are fermented foods, such as yogurt, quark, Yakult, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, and miso.
Probiotic supplements are also a great option, but recommended dosage has yet to be determined.

Now I mentioned just before that probiotics benefits were seen with a high fiber diet, and it seems the more fiber, the better.

One observational study found those who ate 25 grams or more of fiber per day had a 41% lower risk of being hospitalized for diverticulitis compared to those who ate less than 14 grams per day.

Another study that followed more than 690,000 women without diverticular disease found that each additional 5 grams of fiber per day was associated with a 15% reduction in risk of diverticulitis.

Considering that fiber has numerous other known benefits for the health, particularly in maintaining a healthy gut bacteria, it makes sense to recommend a high fiber diet.

Unfortunately today most people only consume half of the recommended amount. Women should aim to get at least 25 grams per day, while the average man should have at least 38 grams per day. Which basically means eat more vegetables and legumes.

Okay so let’s move onto some common rumours surrounding diverticulitis and diet, the first is that you should avoid nuts and seeds, corn and popcorn.


For years we’ve been taught these foods can literally get stuck in diverticula, causing irritation and eventually diverticulitis.
But this theory has never been proven, and research actually shows no link.

This large study in 47,228 men found no associations with nut, corn, or popcorn consumption and diverticulitis, after 18 years of follow-up.

If anything, these foods are more likely to be protective of diverticulitis because they tend to be high in fiber.

The next rumour or myth I want to address is the idea that red meat intake increases diverticulitis risk.

This idea was formed on the back of observational studies that found vegetarians were much less likely to develop diverticular disease than the average person.

But the reason vegetarian and vegan diets are advantageous is because they’re almost always higher in fiber than the typical Western diet. [Additionally,] Non-meat eaters tend to be more health-conscious than the average person.

Lastly I just want to mention vitamin D, which is kind of diet related but it’s the nutrient we get primarily from sunlight. Low vitamin D levels are strongly linked to increased risk of diverticulitis. So you should get screened for a deficiency with your doctor and supplement if necessary.

Dietitian: Joe Leech (MSc Nutrition)

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  1. I'm 35 and I had diverticulitis about 8 times in 7 years. One thing I can say… is that out of the 7 times I have gone to the hospital and seeing 7 different doctors… no 2 of them have said the same thing. They all have different opinions about diets and what does and doesn't cause a flare up… frustrating to say the least….

  2. I Went to the hospital because I eat popcorn 🍿 and not enough water and they told me for the first time that a had Divirticulities

  3. I have had several surgeries to remove abcesses and parts of my colon as a result of diverticulitis and each time it started with high fibre flare up, eg eating breakfast bran or raisin bran muffins etc. Hospital dietitions told me to eat a low fiber diet, for at least 3 months after surgery, but once I introduced high fibres again, such as broccoli or sauerkraut I put them through a blender first. Nuts and seeds dont cause diverticulitis but they can certainly aggravate it. I drink prune juice and aloe vera juice to keep my bowels working or take deglyccerised licorice capsules and find " smooth foods" way better than a high fiber diet. Gluten glues me up so staying off grains leads to fewer flare ups. I am in my seventies and have had to learn all this the hard way. My surgeon kept saying high fibre and my dietitian low fiber and I found a middle road and bought a high quality blender instead. I blend most of my food into a porridge, even Sunday roast. It tastes equally delicious. I avoid all foods with skins too, especially grapes and raisins.

  4. When I ended up in the hospital with diverticulitis and bleeding, I'd been eating popcorn and pumpkin seeds with shell on, a lot. I avoid popcorn and nuts and pumpkin seeds. I also notice, when I eat corn, I sometimes feel as though I'm going to have a flareup.

  5. Eating meat is key to staying thin & losing weight. Keto & intermittent fasting. Sugar is the enemy, It's food for all illness. Cancer loves sugar.

  6. I agree with the fiber point. but i would like to add one more option too apple cider vinegar (in tablett) thiese twoo together helped me alot to be honest.

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