Diverticulitis is a form of diverticular disease that is common in people over the age of 60 in western countries such as Ireland and the UK. Like many diseases, diverticulitis can be caused by a lack of certain nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy.
Most people with diverticular disease do not experience symptoms, but some unlucky ones can experience a great deal of pain from diverticulitis. Here is our guide to diverticulitis, how to avoid it and how to treat it if you are diagnosed.
What is Diverticular Disease?
Diverticular disease is a condition that affects your bowels; it is diagnosed when you have small growth pouches in the lining of your large intestine, also known as polyps, which can become inflamed and cause painful symptoms.
There are two main types of diverticular disease, diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is diagnosed when there are polyps present in your gut, but you do not experience any symptoms. Diverticulitis is diagnosed when the disease brings out symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, cramping or swelling.
The way you treat these two types of diverticular disease is actually the opposite, which is why it is important you seek advice from your GP if you are experiencing painful symptoms from diverticulitis.
How Do I Avoid Getting Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis and diverticulosis can be caused where there are weaknesses in your colon, allowing polyps to break through the wall of your large intestine. These weaknesses in the intestine can be induced due to constipation, which can be trigged by a lack of nutrients in your diet.
Fibre is one of these vital nutrients that many people lack within their diet which can therefore increase your chances of getting diverticulitis. This is because fibre softens your stool and minimises the risk of constipation. Most people eat around 14 grams of fibre per day which is almost half of the 25 to 30 grams of fibre we should consume.
In African and Asian societies, diverticular disease is rare due to the high fibre intake within their diets. To avoid diverticular disease, make sure you are eating 25 to 30 grams of fibre in your diet every day, at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day and exercising regularly.
What is the Best Treatment for Diverticulosis?
If you have diverticular disease without any symptoms, you have diverticulosis. The best way to treat diverticulosis is by consuming a high-fibre diet of 25 to 30 grams per day.
It is also advised that you avoid processed foods and stick to plant-based ingredients such as beans, lentils, nuts, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. Additionally, drinking at least 12 to 15 cups of water per day can help reduce the risk of constipation.
Following a healthy, plant-based and high-fibre diet is the best way to treat diverticulosis. You should also avoid foods with a high fat content and red meat.
What is the Best Treatment for Diverticulitis?
If you experience symptoms such as bloating, swelling, pain, abdominal cramping, constipation or diarrhoea you may need to take a different route in treating diverticulitis.
Consuming a high-fibre diet as you should with diverticulosis can actually make diverticulitis worse. This is because food such as whole grains, nuts and beans can irritate your polyps, even more, causing painful flare-ups.
Flare-ups happen when the growth pouches become inflamed or infected so you may need to switch to a clear liquid diet, take antibiotics or even have surgery. If you suffer from diverticulitis then make sure you do not consume more than 12 grams of fibre per day, and choose foods such as eggs, white pasta, bread, Greek yoghurt or canned fruits as part of your diet. If you are suffering from an extreme flare-up, you should look to a liquid diet of broths, smoothies and popsicles, as well as increased consumption of water. With extreme pain make sure you seek medical advice.
The Queen of Health
Nichola Flood at The Queen of Health is an Irish health and nutritional coach who can turn your life around permanently. Not only are our coaching programmes great for weight loss but will improve your overall health on the inside, and minimise your risk of diverticular disease. Become the best version of yourself and book a free call with Nichola today to start your health and wellness journey.
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