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If you have been "declared" to be a risk of diverticulitis or if you've been diagnosed with one diverticulitis, your doctor has probably already recommended that you use antibiotics or over the counter medications as a first-line treatment for this condition. Only in the case in which diverticulitis is particularly advanced, however, may surgery be necessary.
However, when it comes to helping prevent or treat diverticulitis, one thing is certain: what you eat also matters, and more importantly, what you DON'T eat.
Fibers and diverticulitis
Let's start by remembering that the diverticulitis it is a condition in which small “pockets” form on the upper layer of the colon, become infected or inflamed. The best estimates reveal that diverticulitis affects 5 to 10 percent of the population aged 50, affecting mainly Western and developed nations.
The risk of diverticulitis is linked to age, a history of constipation, obesity, lack of physical activity and, above all, a lack of fiber. But why the fiber is it important for the health of the digestive system?
Let's go in order. Several studies suggest that people in Africa and Asia, where high-fiber diets are common, rarely suffer from diverticular disease. On the other hand, diverticulitis is observed in up to 50% of the Finnish population, precisely because of the low intake of fiber and the aging of the population.
Therefore, it is possible to conclude that indeed the fiber it plays an important role in the digestive process, softening the stool and helping it move more smoothly through the colon. Lack of fiber can cause constipation, making stool harder and harder to "pass", and putting stress on the colon muscles.
And since diverticula typically form in areas where digestive muscles are strained or weakened, constipation can make diverticula more likely to develop: Since constipation causes pressure to build up in the colon, it can also lead to inflammation or inflammation. infection of diverticula already present in the colon, causing diverticulitis!
Luckily, high-fiber foods aren't hard to find ...
Foods rich in fiber to prevent diverticulitis
There fiber it is a valuable aid when it comes to good digestive health, as it can promote the proliferation of good bacteria and help pass stool easier.
They can therefore be useful for this purpose:
- bran cereals,
- black beans,
- sweet potatoes;
- green peas;
- mixed vegetables;
- cooked spinach;
- dried dates.
We've also already mentioned that fiber and "good" bacteria are key components of a healthy digestive tract. The fiber itself helps promote good bacterial growth, but there are also foods containing active cultures that promote good digestion and prevent constipation that drives diverticulosis.
Examples of these are:
Beware of excesses: too much fiber is bad for you!
Although fiber is useful in promoting better intestinal health, theexcess fiber it is harmful!
Several studies suggest that eating too much fiber (more than 50g per day) can actually lead to diverticular disease causing constipation. In fact, the fiber swells the stool and ... therefore it is at least good to remember to combine the intake of fiber with water.
Also remember that the recommended amount of dietary fiber is around 20-35 g per day, although - we repeat once again - you should be able to identify the right amount together with your doctor, based on your actual needs and characteristics.
Foods to avoid
Considering that diverticulitis reveals inflammation, the person suffering from it must avoid ... the same foods that you want to eat to prevent the condition. But why?
It's simple: fibrous foods, while being very good in most cases, they are not soothing to an irritated digestive system. For this reason, it is advisable to wait until inflammation is under control before eating fiber again.
And if diverticulitis is causing severe diarrhea or even hemorrhage, the doctor or dietician can ask for intestinal rest, until the condition is under control. A liquid diet can be the next step, based on water, broth and apple juice.
Sufferers of this condition are generally placed on a low-fiber diet (consuming less than 15g per day) until symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea stop.
The low-fiber foods (less than 2 g per serving), which can be consumed when suffering from diverticulitis are, on the contrary:
- beef, poultry and fish;
- White bread;
- ricotta cheese;
- fruit juice;
- canned green beans;
- ice cream;
- peeled mashed potatoes;
- nut butter;
- White pasta;
- White rice;
- canned tuna.
Of course, in order to know more about it, we recommend all those who are affected by this condition or want to effectively prevent it, to talk to their doctor of reference.