Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis, Diverticular Disease)

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Diverticulitis diet: Foods to avoid, and foods that soothe symptoms

Once formed, diverticula do not go away; they are permanent. No treatment has been shown to treat or prevent diverticular disease or diverticulitis. Nevertheless recommendations have been made in regard to which foods to eat, and which foods to avoid.

Foods to eat that may prevent flares

Since one theory holds that it is reduced fiber in the diet that causes diverticulitis, diets high in fiber are the most recommended treatment for diverticula. Fiber clearly increases stool bulk and prevents constipation, and, if it really reduces pressures in the colon, theoretically it may help prevent further diverticula formation or worsening of the diverticular condition. Foods high in fiber include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes/beans, (for example, lima, kidney, cannellini, and red kidney beans; chickpeas, split peas, and tofu)
  • Whole grains (for example, brown rice, cracked wheat, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, rye bread, wild rice; and whole wheat bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, and tortillas)

Foods to avoid with diverticulitis

Some doctors recommend avoiding nuts, corn, and seeds, which are thought by some to plug diverticular openings and cause diverticulitis, but there is little evidence to support this recommendation. Nevertheless, foods frequently recommended to be avoided include:

  • Popcorn
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds

What about probiotics and diverticulitis or diverticular disease?

Because inflammation has been found at the edges of diverticula, it has been speculated that colonic bacteria may be playing a role in the rupture of diverticula by promoting inflammation. This has led some people to further speculate that changing the bacteria in the colon might reduce inflammation and rupture and to suggest treatment with probiotics and/or prebiotics; however, there is not enough evidence of a benefit of probiotics yet to recommend treatment with probiotics of patients with diverticular disease. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 12/28/2015
References
REFERENCES:

Anne F. Peery and Robert S. Sandler. Diverticular Disease: Reconsidering Conventional Wisdom. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11:1532-1537.

Choosemyplate.gov. "Grains Gallery."
<http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgallery-grains>

Eatforhealth.gov. "Vegetables and Legumes/Beans."
<https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans>

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