What is Diverticulitis?
The formation of diverticula or tiny, bulging pouches in the lining of the digestive system, mostly in the lower part of the large intestine, is known as diverticulosis. When one or more of the pouches become infected or inflamed, it leads to a painful condition called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is usually asymptomatic. It is because of this reason that many people with diverticulitis are not even aware of their condition. However, some symptoms of this diverticulitis include: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Diverticulitis especially affects people as they grow older. Many experts believe that diverticulosis and diverticulitis are caused by a low-fiber diet. It is because of their high fiber diet, that Asians and Africans have the lowest incidence of diverticulitis. Mild cases of diverticulitis are generally treated with antibiotics and a diverticulitis diet. The diverticulitis diet includes clear liquids and low-fiber foods. More severe cases of diverticulitis typically require hospitalization and even surgery.
What is Diverticulitis Diet?
Doctors recommend diverticulitis diet as part of a short-term treatment plan for acute diverticulitis. Diverticulitis diet is a temporary measure to give the digestive system a chance to rest. In diverticulitis diet, oral intake is usually decreased until diarrhea and bleeding subside. A diverticulitis diet comprises of the following:
Foods to Eat in Diverticulitis Diet: A diverticulitis diet begins with only clear liquids for a few days. For instance, some items allowed on a clear liquid diet are water, broth, tea or coffee without cream, fruit juices without pulp, gelatine, ice chips, and ice pops without piece of fruit or fruit pulp. Once the patient starts feeling better, the doctor would slowly add low-fiber foods to their diet. Examples of low-fiber foods are canned or cooked (de-skinned and de-seeded) fruits, cooked or canned (de-skinned) vegetables like carrots, green beans, and potatoes, and fruit and vegetable juice without pulp. Foods like refined white bread, eggs, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt, low-fiber cereals, white rice, noodles and pasta, can also be included in the diverticulitis diet.
Foods to Avoid in Diverticulitis Diet: Earlier, diverticulitis patients were advised to avoid eating hard-to-digest foods like nuts, popcorn, corn, and seeds, as these foods were believed to get stuck in the diverticula and cause inflammation. However, recent studies have not found any real scientific evidence to back this recommendation. On the contrary, nuts and seeds are parts of many high-fiber foods, like strawberries, which are excellent for people with diverticulitis disease.
What is the Prognosis for Diverticulitis?
A person with diverticulitis is likely to feel better within 2 to 3 days of starting diverticulitis diet and antibiotics. Ones who do not experience any positive changes in their health within the given period should contact their doctor immediately. Diverticulitis patients should also seek medical help if they develop a fever, their abdominal pain worsens, or they are unable to give up clear liquids. All these symptoms can indicate a diverticulitis complication which requires hospitalization.
What are the Risks Associated with Diverticulitis Diet?
Minimal risk is associated with diverticulitis. However, being on a clear liquid diet for more than a few days can cause weakness and other complications in the patient’s body. This is because a fluid based diet does not provide optimal amount of essential nutrients to the body. So, doctors want diverticulitis patients to transition back to a normal diet, as soon as they can tolerate it.
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