Diverticulitis Diet Restrictions

Must Certain Foods Be Restricted?

Diverticulosis is a product of our modern society, our diet, and our hurried lifestyle. Since the invention of the refining process that removed naturally occurring fiber from wheat and sugar at the turn of the century, the incidence of diverticulosis has been steadily increasing. In the United States, it is estimated that 30 million people have this problem, thus creating the need for diverticulitis diet restrictions if you want to get healthier.

Diverticulosis may occur in any location in the intestine, but is most commonly located near the end portion of the large bowel. The condition occurs when the inner lining of the bowel pushes through the outer wall. These protruding inner layers create little pockets of the bowel, typically at areas in the bowel where there are points of weakness. The pockets are the diverticulae and the condition is called diverticulitis.

It is believed that because of our refined diet and our time-constrained lifestyle, the stools are firmer and smaller. This requires more straining and higher pressures within the bowel in order to have a bowel movement. These higher pressures cause these pockets to form. The process occurs over a period of many years and diverticulosis is more often seen after the age of 50. The condition is painless, and 80 percent of the people with diverticulosis never have any problems. Complications, however, can occur, the most common of which is when these diverticulae become inflamed and infected, a condition called diverticulitis. This causes abdominal pain, occasionally a fever, and may cause either constipation or diarrhea. Other complications, less commonly seen, include bleeding, abscess formation, and intestinal obstruction. Treatment of these conditions usually requires antibiotics. Sometimes surgery becomes necessary, especially if the diverticulae rupture or if the bleeding is severe.

The dietary treatment of diverticulosis i.e. diverticulitis foods to avoid has taken an about-face in recent years. In the past, people were advised to adhere to bland and low-residue diets. These are exactly the diets which, it seems, were responsible for causing the diverticulosis in the first place. Today, people are encouraged to consume diets that are higher in fiber and roughage. The fiber increases the quantity of stool and softens its consistency. Commercial preparations, such as Metamucil, also have a similar effect.

Although fiber may not be of benefit to all people, it does seem that a high fiber diet lessens the frequency of the problems that may result from diverticulosis. It is hoped that high fiber diets, when eaten at younger ages, may even help to prevent diverticulosis from occurring at all.

The key to the use of fiber is to use it in moderation. As many people already have discovered, fiber, found in cereals, fibers, and vegetables, can itself cause a sense of bloating and cramps. People should eat a quantity of fiber that does not cause these problems, yet is sufficient for softening the stools. This can only happen with trial and error, and anywhere from three to eight weeks must be allowed to see if fiber has an effect.

It is hoped that as people become much more aware of the importance of dietary fiber, then diverticulosis, a disease of modern society, may become a thing of the past.