Diverticulitis and diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is a condition that develops when small pouches, known as diverticula, form and protrude from the colon wall. It is the chronic phase of diverticular disease which also consists of an acute phase called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula become inflamed and infected.
An insufficient intake of dietary fiber diminishes the ability of the colon to propel food through the digestive tract and increases pressure on the intestinal wall: two factors that appear to be involved in the formation of diverticula.
There are different diets for the various stages of diverticular disease.
During a diverticulitis flare-up, it is important to allow the bowel to rest. A progressive diet that consists of various stages is recommended. Here they are, in proper order:
- Stage 1 - Full liquid diet. Generally speaking, this takes place while in hospital.
- Stage 2 - Semi-liquid diet. This diet consists of liquids and soft foods, very little protein and no fiber.
- Stage 3 - Low fiber, low residue diet.
- Stage 4 - Diet that consists mainly of moderate amounts of soluble (oats, barley, psyllium, fruit and legumes) and insoluble fiber (bran, whole wheat, brown rice, vegetables).
- Stage 5 - Follow a diet plan to manage diverticulosis.
Once the presence of diverticula is confirmed, the goal is to prevent progression of diverticulosis to diverticulitis and to avoid further complications. To do so, here are some dietary recommendations:
- Eat a fiber-rich diet. Fiber prevents the formation of new diverticula and complications. The average North American only consumes 15 grams a day while the daily recommended fiber intake is between 21 and 38 grams. Do not increase your dietary intake overnight. An average increase of 5 grams per week is recommended, along with an increase in your daily water intake.
- Eat less meat and fat.
- Chew your food properly.
Do not hesitate to consult with a dietician for a personalized diet plan.
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