Diverticulitis can be unpleasant, painful and lower a person’s quality of life considerably. If you suffer from this condition, you likely have tried a Diverticulitis Diet or two as a recommended treatment. Often these are temporary diets that don’t address the problem long-term.
What is Diverticulitis?
Often as we age our stomachs develop small pouches in the lower section of the large intestine called Diverticula. In most cases these pouches don’t cause issues. Unless, they get infected. That is when you get diagnosed with Diverticulitis.
The most common symptom is pain, and it can be downright uncomfortable. The pain usually comes from the lower left abdomen. Other Diverticulitis symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. People affected often restrict their diet to a narrow range of foods to avoid these nasty symptoms.
Diverticulitis Diet and Treatment
Most cases are mild enough to treat at home. Doctors typically prescribe and antibiotic for the infection and a bland, liquid, low fiber diet for up to several days. In severe cases, more intensive antibiotics, draining of any abscesses and surgical intervention may be required.
Treating the Cause
While these temporary interventions are necessary, our preference is to address the root causes. As with many aspects of digestive health, diet and lifestyle are significant factors in the prevention of diverticulitis.
We talk often about systemic inflammation in the body. This inflammation is due in large part to a diet high in processed grains and sugars. These highly processed diets are often low in fiber and probiotics due to a lack of vegetables and fermented foods. You can read more on gut bacteria and probitics here.
The typical high sugar diet also lacks essential fatty acids such as Omega 3’s, which have a powerful anti-inflammatory affect. Each individual is different and there may be other nutritional guidelines or supplements that can help.
Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases and has been classified as a disease itself. Research shows an increase in incidence of Diverticulitis for those with obesity. Like obesity, diabetes is closely linked with inflammation in the body as a result of a highly processed diet high in carbohydrates. It is therefore logical that diabetes also increases the risk for diverticulitis.
One of the major challenges for those affected by obesity and diverticulitis is that eating most vegetables seems nearly impossible. We don’t need to be a doctor to know that in order to lose weight (and keep it off) we need to add more vegetables to the diet.
We have helped many patients successfully lose weight by leveraging a combination of protein-based foods and drinks plus vegetables that have been puréed. A blender or food processor can be used to puree your vegetables and turn them into a delicious soup with vegetable or chicken broth.
The foundation to healthy weight loss is figuring out how to get more fibrous vegetables and less processed sugar in the diet. Patients lose weight rapidly with our supervised approach and develop the ability to eat vegetables for long-term health.
Addressing diet and lifestyle is often easier said than done of course. That’s why the help of a professional who specializes in these health challenges is vital. Staying on track is often the hardest part and a professional will give your motivation and emotional support while keeping you accountable. Also it’s important to have medical supervision to monitor your progress and make adjustments if needed.
A well-designed and supervised Diverticulitis diet can help you reverse the condition and prevent relapses going forward.