Diverticulitis develops from a condition called diverticulosis. If you're older than 40, it's common for you to have diverticulosis - small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in your digestive tract. In the United States, more than 50 percent of people older than 60 have diverticula. Although diverticula can form anywhere, including in your esophagus, stomach and small intestine, most occur in your large intestine. Because these pouches seldom cause any problems, you may never know you have them.
A low-fiber diet is considered to be the main cause of diverticular problems. First diagnosed in the United States in the early 1900s, and now common throughout developed countries, the emergence of diverticular disease coincided with the introduction of low-fiber processed foods (eg. branless refined flour). Even now, the disease is rare in Asia and Africa, where people eat high-fiber vegetable diets.
In the past, many doctors recommended that people with diverticulosis avoid seeds and nuts, including foods with small seeds, such as tomatoes and strawberries. It was thought that these tiny particles could lodge in the diverticula and cause inflammation (diverticulitis). But there is no scientific evidence that seeds and nuts cause diverticulitis. In fact, eating a high-fiber diet - which may include nuts and seeds - reduces the risk of diverticulitis. It is now believed that only foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula cause problems.
A low-residue Diverticulitis Diet is recommended during the flare-up periods of diverticulitis to decrease bowel volume so that the infection can heal. An intake of less than 10 grams of fiber per day is generally considered a low residue Diverticulitis Diet. If you have been on a low-residue diet for an extended period of time, your doctor may recommend a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.
Once your symptoms improve, start to add about 5 to 15 grams of fiber a day to allow your digestive system to adjust to the higher fiber intake.
Although there is much conflicting information, even in the medical world, about what constitutes a good Diverticulitis Diet, the basic principle of healthy eating remains the same. Most people have no symptoms and only find out that they have Diverticulosis when they've had a colonoscopy done. If you fall into this category, the guidelines suggest that you start on a high fiber and high fluids diet as soon as possible. You should also avoid constipation at all costs.
In general, treatment depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms and whether this is your first attack of diverticulitis. If your symptoms are mild, a liquid or low-fiber diet and antibiotics may be all you need. But if you're at risk of complications or have recurrent attacks of diverticulitis, you may need more advanced care. A high-fiber diet is very important in preventing future diverticulitis attacks. As you increase your fiber intake, increase your fluid intake as well.
Many people don't realize the harm that a low fiber diet can do to you, and the Diverticulitis Diet is really a necessity to everyone, not just those with the disease. We must remember to keep high-fiber healthy diets to allow ourselves the nutrition we need to support our bodies and allow for proper nutrition. Even if you do have diverticulitis, the Diverticulitis Diet will help you get your bodies nutrients on track and allow you to be healthy again.
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