March 01, 2020

Are there foods I shouldn't eat to avoid a diverticulitis attack?

Q: I recently had a very painful diverticulitis attack. Are there foods I shouldn't eat to help avoid an attack in the future?

A: Actually, current recommendations for those with diverticulitis (die-vur-tik-yoo-LIE-tis) are more about trying to incorporate high-fiber foods than eliminating specific foods from your diet.

Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system and most commonly occur in the last portion of the colon. Diverticula are common, especially as you age, and seldom cause problems.

Diverticulitis

Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive tract. Diverticulitis is when diverticula become inflamed or infected.

 

Sometimes, however, one or more of the pouches become inflamed or infected — a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can cause severe abdominal pain — typically around the lower left side of your abdomen — fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits. It can even necessitate hospitalization.

After you've recovered from a diverticulitis attack, try eating a high-fiber diet including fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Women over 50 should aim for at least 21 grams of fiber a day, and men over 50 should aim for at least 30 grams. You may want to cut down on red meat, as it has been associated with a higher risk of diverticulitis. Exercising — especially vigorously — and maintaining a healthy weight may also help reduce diverticulitis risk.

You may have heard that it's best to avoid nuts, seeds and popcorn after a bout of diverticulitis. However, there's...