what are the symptoms of a diverticulitis flare-up?
Lifestyle remains the major culprit behind diverticulitis flare-ups, such as a high-fat, low-fiber diet commonly found in Western countries.

Lifestyle remains the major culprit behind diverticulitis flare-ups. A high-fat, low-fiber diet commonly followed in Western countries can exacerbate diverticulitis symptoms.

Lack of fiber in the diet can cause constipation and strain the bowel. Straining can ultimately lead to small pouches in the colon (diverticulitis).

Generally, different food may trigger flare-ups in different people; however, the common foods that may cause exacerbation of diverticulitis flare-ups to include:

  • Processed meat
  • Red meat
  • Fried foods
  • Full-fat dairy products

High sugar foods may trigger diverticulitis.

It was once believed that nuts, popcorn, and seeds could enter or block the diverticula and should be avoided in people with diverticulitis. Current studies suggest that these foods are high in fiber and may be beneficial in treating the condition.

What diet should you follow during diverticulitis flare-ups?

During a diverticulitis flare-up, eat a clear liquid diet for a few days, which consists of liquids through which one can read something.

Some of the clear liquids that one can have during flare-ups include:

  • Soda pop
  • Ginger ale
  • Club soda
  • Water and mineral water
  • Black coffee with no cream or milk
  • Sports drinks with electrolytes
  • Apple juice
  • Tea without milk
  • Honey
  • Flavored gelatin
  • Clear broth

When one can eat solid foods, opt for low-fiber foods during healing, such as:

  • White bread, pasta, and rice
  • Well-cooked vegetables without skin
  • Fruit without skin or seeds
  • Lean meat, chicken, or fish
  • Eggs

Once the symptoms improve within 2 to 14 days, add 5 to 15 grams of fiber a day to the diet.

8 causes of diverticulitis

Here are 8 potential causes of diverticulitis:

  1. Smoking: Nicotine and other chemicals present in cigarettes and tobacco products can damage the lining of the colon, leading to diverticulosis and then, diverticulitis.
  2. Lack of exercise: Engaging in vigorous physical activity appears to lower the risk of diverticulitis.
    • A vigorous activity, such as jogging and running, can reduce the overall risk. 
    • A study comparing men who exercise regularly and take a high-fiber diet versus men who do not exercise and consume a low-fiber diet was conducted, and the latter group was at increased risk of developing diverticular diseases.
    • Being physically active is essential to maintain overall health.
  3. Obesity: Having a higher waist circumference can increase the chances of developing diverticular diseases.
    • Obesity has been associated with diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding. Hence, managing weight is the ultimate solution to prevent diverticular disease.
  4. Genetics: Having a family history of diverticulitis can increase the chances.
  5. Drug: Using certain medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and steroids.
  6. Age: People older than 40 years are at a high risk of developing diverticulitis.
  7. Dehydration: Lack of water can cause the buildup of waste products and bacteria in the colon, leading to diverticulitis.
  8. Diet: Low dietary fiber and higher fat intake or red meat can increase the diverticulitis flare-up.
    • Increasing the dietary fiber or adopting a vegetarian diet may alleviate intestinal inflammation and alter gut microbes, thereby decreasing the symptoms of diverticulitis.
    • A cohort study reveals that the risk of diverticulitis significantly increases when people take a low fiber diet along with high fatty foods and red meat.
    • A high fiber diet excluding fats and red meats or switching to a vegetarian diet can be essential for reducing the risk of developing diverticulitis.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/29/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Cunha JP. What Triggers Diverticulitis? eMedicineHealth. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/what_triggers_diverticulitis/article_em.htm

Pemberton JH. Colonic diverticulosis and diverticular disease: Epidemiology, risk factors, and pathogenesis. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/colonic-diverticulosis-and-diverticular-disease-epidemiology-risk-factors-and-pathogenesis?topicRef=1380&source=see_link

The University of California. Diverticular Disease and Diet. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/diverticular-disease-and-diet