Diverticulosis is a condition in which small pockets form in the walls of the intestine. When these pockets become inflamed, the condition is called Diverticulitis. One of the main contributing factors in a Diverticulitis flare is constipation, so it’s important to consume fiber rich foods. There are also foods that are suspected to increase the likelihood of a Diverticulitis flare and should be avoided. Keep in mind, these recommendations are for Diverticulosis only. If you find yourself in a Diverticulitis flare, you will want to follow the BRAT diet for Diverticulitis.
Foods to eat for Diverticulitis:
The foods to eat to avoid a Diverticulitis flare are foods that are high in fiber. The fiber recommendation for adults is 25-30 grams per day. If you’re currently consuming a diet that is relatively low in fiber, we recommend increasing fiber-rich foods gradually. Increasing fiber intake too quickly can cause increased GI symptoms and discomfort. Below is a list of foods to eat with Diverticulosis.
Fruits: Pears, Strawberries, Avocado, Apples, Raspberries, Bananas, Blueberries, Blackberries
Vegetables: Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Artichoke, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Spinach, Tomatoes
Legumes: Lentils, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Split Peas, Chickpeas, Edamame, Lima Beans, Quinoa
Grains: Quinoa, Oatmeal, Brown rice, Whole Wheat Pasta, Barley, Oat Bran
Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt, almond milk
What are the early warning signs of Diverticulitis?
People with Diverticulosis commonly experience generic GI discomfort outside of when they experience a Diverticulitis flare. Discomforts include abdominal pain, excess gas and bloating. These symptoms are all signs that there is a buildup of pressure and possibly inflammation in your gut. For this reason, we recommend specific foods to avoid with Diverticulosis to prevent a possible flare. The recommended foods to avoid are listed below.
What Foods should you avoid if you have diverticulitis?
Avoid High FODMAP foods that are not digested/fermented well in your gut. These foods include apples, figs, plums, garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, beans and legumes, simple carbohydrates, and alcohol.
High FODMAP Foods
Although the low FODMAP Diet was originally created as a dietary approach to IBS, there is evidence that the low FODMAP Diet can also be useful in avoiding Diverticulitis in people with Diverticulosis. This theory was developed with the idea that diverticula can become irritated when there is pressure and inflammation in your colon. FODMAP containing foods are not fermented well in the gut. As a result, they produce more gas and pressure in the intestines. Some examples of FODMAP containing foods are listed below:
Fruits: Cherries, apples, figs, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon
Vegetables: Mushrooms, garlic, onion, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cauliflower
Starches: gluten-containing foods, beans, legumes
Red and processed meat
Diverticulosis Diet FAQ: “Can I eat…”
Traditionally, researchers believed that small particles like nuts and seeds may increase the likelihood of developing Diverticulitis by getting trapped in the pockets of the small intestine. Research has proven this theory wrong. Nuts and seeds are now believed to be just fine for Diverticulosis… and chia seeds are a great source of fiber!
Hummus is another food that is high in fiber and should be tolerated well with Diverticulosis. However, as mentioned above, you may see further relief from GI symptoms by avoiding high FODMAP foods. If this is the case, hummus may not be your best choice. Hummus typically contains onions and garlic, which are two notoriously high FODMAP foods.
When in a Diverticulitis flare, your doctor may recommend that you follow a liquid diet for a day or two to help alleviate symptoms. If this happens, bone broth is a great option to get in some extra nutrients during your restricted eating. The warm liquid can also help settle your stomach.
Soda during a Diverticulitis attack is a no-no. However, when living with Diverticulosis, you may be able to tolerate small amounts of soda. If you know that your body does not tolerate caffeine or added sugars well, then you may want to stay away to avoid any potential GI symptoms. If your body typically tolerates soda well, then it should be okay to drink in small amounts.
Aloe Vera Juice:
Researchers believe that aloe vera juice may have some medicinal properties such as relieving constipation and providing pain relief. This is considered a home remedy for a Diverticulitis flare and is not proven to be effective just yet, so we recommend trying this approach with caution.
There are no recommendations specifically against eating pizza with Diverticulosis. However, it’s important to keep in mind that pizza is not a high fiber food and should be used as a part of a balanced diet in moderation.
Excessive alcohol consumption puts you at 2-3 times greater risk of developing diverticulitis. Although the connection between alcohol and Diverticulitis is not well understood, studies show that alcohol slows down intestinal motility. Decreased motility increases pressure within the colon, which is a leading risk factor for developing Diverticulitis. If you currently have Diverticulitis, you may have been prescribed medication to treat the condition. Be sure to discuss alcohol consumption with your physician and dietitian, as your prescribed medication may interact negatively with alcohol.
For more information on how to manage a diverticulitis flare and improve your diet to deal with your diverticulitis, download our Diverticulitis Nutrition Guide.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.