Nutrition: What to eat if you have diverticulitis

With diverticulitis, sacs in the intestine have become inflamed. Do sufferers need to adjust their diet to help recovery?

If sacs (diverticula) in the intestine are inflamed, specialists speak of diverticulitis. Whether diverticula develop in the intestine at all seems to depend to a certain extent on what those affected eat, in addition to factors such as age and predisposition: For example, a low-fiber diet is considered a risk factor because it contributes to hard stool and constipation.

There are also things to consider when it comes to diet if you have diverticulitis. The recommendations have changed somewhat in recent years.

What can you eat if you have acute diverticulitis?

What people with acute diverticulitis are allowed to eat depends primarily on the severity of the individual case.

Nutrition in uncomplicated diverticulitis

If the diverticulitis is uncomplicated and causes hardly any symptoms, according to some experts, the diet does not really have to be changed at all, provided the affected person tolerates the usual food well.

Other sources, on the other hand, recommend adjusting the food, at least initially, and paying attention to low-fiber food, avoiding raw vegetables and fruit and preferring low-fat dishes. Whether such an adapted diet actually has a beneficial effect on uncomplicated diverticulitis has not been scientifically proven.

Nutrition in complicated diverticulitis

If, on the other hand, there is complicated diverticulitis, the inflammation in the intestine is often accompanied by complications such as a collection of pus (abscess) or an intestinal perforation. Treatment usually requires a stay in the hospital.

At the beginning of the therapy, those affected with complicated diverticulitis usually have to temporarily do without solid food and, above all, eat liquids in order to relieve the burden on the intestines. In the beginning, for example, with water, tea and soup, later a normal diet is gradually resumed. In some cases, those affected also receive liquid and nutrients as an infusion through a vein.

Preventing diverticulitis: what to look for in the diet?

If diverticula are already present in the bowel, diet may help reduce the risk of developing diverticulitis. A plant-based diet rich in fiber seems to have a particularly positive effect. Contrary to previous recommendations, those affected do not have to do without nuts, seeds or fruit and vegetables containing seeds. Corn and popcorn are also no problem.

In addition, the following tips may also help to prevent diverticulitis:

Avoid red meat as much as possible, prefer poultry and fish
choose low-fat foods
do not smoke
move regularly
Reduce excess weight or maintain normal weight

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