Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

Author: Diet vs Disease - Joe Leech

- Diverticulitis is an extremely unpleasant digestive disease. Now those diagnosed will know it's worth taking measures to avoid any future episodes, unfortunately, one in five will experience another flare-up within five years. In this video I'm looking at what diet changes may help, as well as some myths about common foods to avoid. (tinkling chimes) Just to clarify, diverticulosis, refers to having diverticula, which are the small pockets that form in your large intestine, that have not yet become infected and painful. Now diverticulitis, occurs when those diverticula become inflamed and infected. So diverticulosis will always occur before diverticulitis, and together, these two conditions are known as diverticular disease. Unfortunately the risk of diverticulosis increases as we grow older, to about 70% of people aged 80 and above.

Fortunately, it only progresses to diverticulitis, the inflamed version, about 4% of the time. With regards to diet, the first thing I want to look at is probiotics, which are bacteria that we eat specifically for health benefits. Studies show a variety of different probiotic strains are effective in reducing symptoms of diverticulitis. Particularly those of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei, and this was seen in tandem with a high-fiber diet. Probiotics have also been successfully combined with the anti-inflammatory drug Mesalamine to help reduce acute symptoms of diverticulitis. However, it's uncertain if probiotics reduce the risk of recurrence.

The best food sources of probiotics are fermented foods like yogurt, quark, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh, et cetera. Probiotic supplements are also a great option, but the recommended dosages have yet to be determined. Now I mentioned just before that the benefits of probiotics were seen in tandem with a high-fiber diet, and it seems that the more fiber, the better. One observational study found those who ate 25 grams or more of fiber per day, had a 41% lower risk of being hospitalized for diverticulitis, compared to those who ate less than 14 grams per day. Another study that followed more than 690,000 women without diverticular disease, found that each additional five grams of fiber per day, was associated with a 15% reduction in risk of diverticulitis. Now considering that fiber has numerous other-known benefits for health, particularly in maintaining healthy gut bacteria, it makes sense to recommend a high-fiber diet. Unfortunately these days most people only eat about half of the recommended amounts, women should aim for about 25 grams per day, while men should be eating upwards of 38 grams per day, so basically it means eat more vegetables and more legumes. OK, so let's move on to some common rumors surrounding diverticulitis and diet, and the first one is that you should avoid nuts and seeds and corn and popcorn.

For years we've been taught these foods can literally get stuck in the diverticula, causing irritation and eventually diverticulitis, but this theory has never been proven and research actually shows no link. This large study in 47,228 men found no associations with nut, corn, or popcorn consumption, and diverticulitis after 18 years of follow-up. If anything, these foods are more likely to be protective of diverticulitis because they tend to be high in fiber. The next rumor or myth that I want to address is the idea that red meat increases your diverticulitis risk. The idea is unproven, and was formed on the back of observational studies that found vegetarians were much less likely to develop diverticular disease than the average person. But the reason vegetarian and vegan diets are advantageous is because they're almost always higher in fiber than the typical Western diet.

Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

Additionally, non-meat eaters tend to be more health-conscious than the average person. So it's considerably more likely the real benefits lie in eating more fiber, rather than cutting meat or animal foods. In other words, just ensure your eating pattern encourages you to eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other high-fiber foods. Lastly I just want to mention vitamin D, which is kind of diet-related, but, we actually get most of it from the sun. Now low vitamin D levels are strongly linked with increased risk of diverticulitis, so you should definitely get that screened at your doctor in a routine checkup, and supplement and correct that deficiency if necessary. Thanks for watching, if you found this video useful, please give a thumbs up, and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe to the Diet vs Disease YouTube channel by clicking the red button below this video. (vibrant rock music).

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Diet for Diverticulitis: Recommendations and Myths

- Diverticulitis is an extremely unpleasant digestive disease. Now those diagnosed will know it's worth taking measures to avoid any future episodes, unfortunately, one in five…

By: Diet vs Disease - Joe Leech