You need to go on a specific diet if you are having mild symptoms of diverticulitis. This often needs to be supplemented by antibiotics because infection may supervene on the inflammation. If you are having severe symptoms, however, dietary management may not be adequate and you may need hospitalization. But once you are sure that your symptoms are mild, you can try the food items recommended below. However, remember that diet is meant more for decreasing the load on the digestive system and giving it a rest so that it can recuperate.
How to Treat Diverticulitis
To start with, when you are experiencing the symptoms of diverticulitis you need to switch over to a liquid diet for a few days. The liquids you can be on are water, coffee or tea without cream, clear soda, broth, fruit juices without the pulp, like grape or apple juice, gelatin, and popsicles.
Make sure you take adequate quantity of fluids so that stools are formed and passed easily. After you have been on this type of liquid diet for a few days, you can add in low-fiber items to your diet.
Low-Fiber Food Items
Once you start to feel better with the liquid diet and your symptoms start to ease, you can add to your diet food items low in fiber. This type of diet decreases the bowel volume and thus allows the infection to heal. The intake of fiber during this period needs to be under 10 g/day.
Examples of food items low in fiber include cooked or canned fruits but without the skin and seeds, eggs, poultry, fish, white bread and refined wheat, fruit juice without pulp, cereals low in fiber, white rice, noodles, pasta, milk, and low-fat dairy products. Drink adequate fluids, say 7 to 8 glasses a day, because they assist in digestion. As your symptoms improve, increase the fiber intake gradually over 2-3 weeks.
High-Fiber Food Items
High-fiber foods are indicated only after the subsidence of the symptoms of an acute attack and are needed more for avoiding recurrence. Recommended daily intake of fiber is 25-35 grams.
The fiber adds to the bulk of the stool and eases pressure on the colon; it also leads to regular and complete bowel movements, which control the symptoms and deter further formation of diverticulae. Examples of foods high in fiber include whole-grain cereals, bread and pasta, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Seeds and Nuts
In the past, seeds and nuts were thought to aggravate the symptoms of diverticulitis by lodging in the diverticulae and causing inflammation. Latest studies find no evidence for that. On the contrary, their high-fiber content can aid in forestalling diverticulitis. So, except for the initial few days when you go on a diet for diverticulitis, you can consume the seeds of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, raspberries and strawberries without any hesitation.
Effect of the Diet on Diverticulitis
Within a few days of being on the diet as suggested above, along with intake of antibiotics, you should start to feel better. If that does not happen, then you need to consult a doctor, particularly if you have fever, worsening abdominal pain or vomiting.
Problems with the Diverticulitis Diet
Typically the diet prescribed above for diverticulitis poses very few problems. However, if you are on liquid diet for more than a few days, you may experience weakness. It may help to take supplements of vitamins and minerals.