Do you feel overwhelmed trying to manage your Diverticulitis flare-ups on your own?
Diverticulitis is one of many chronic illnesses that is a silent battle for those with it because the symptoms are felt within. When your body is acting strangely, but you appear to be in good health, it can feel incredibly lonely.
Even while daily life is stressful, a chronic condition like Diverticulitis, which affects more than half of Americans over 50, is a significant burden.
OnPoint Nutrition has helped more than 3,000 clients with unique health hurdles, and hundreds of them specifically suffer from a chronic illness like Diverticulitis. OnPoint's approach to managing Diverticulitis provides the expertise to help you feel better!
Here is the full rundown by OnPoint Nutrition Registered Dietitian and gut health expert, Kaitlyn Willwerth, MS, RD, CLT on the frequently asked questions our clients bring to the table.
1. If I Have Diverticulosis Does It Mean I Will Get Diverticulitis?
Diverticula, fluid-filled pouches in the lower large intestine/colon, become inflamed (and occasionally infected) in Diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis refers to the existence of these pouches in any condition, whether inflamed or not. Diverticula are frequently present, and Diverticulosis is not always harmful to a person's health. This condition is merely a risk factor and does not necessarily mean you will experience symptoms of diverticulosis.
You might discover that Diverticulitis is readily treated with minor dietary adjustments, antibiotics, and relaxation.
However, patients who experience frequent, protracted episodes of this ailment might need to have surgery.
2. What Are The Early Warning Signs of Diverticulitis?
People with Diverticulosis commonly experience general GI discomfort outside of when they experience a Diverticulitis flare.
Discomforts include: abdominal pain, excess gas, and bloating.
These symptoms are all signs of a buildup of pressure and possibly inflammation in your gut. For this reason, we recommend avoiding specific foods with Diverticulosis to prevent a possible flare.
3. 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:
- cruciferous vegetables
- beans and legumes
- simple carbohydrates
4. What Are the Characteristics of a Diverticulitis Stool?
One key marker of Diverticulitis is changes in your bowel movements.
Diverticulitis stool shape, color, and smell will likely be different than your average everyday bowel movement. Below are the changes to look for when determining if your stool may indicate a Diverticulitis flare.
- Color: The stool may be bright red, maroon, or black and tarry, which indicates the presence of blood. Stools may contain more mucus than normal.
- Odor: The stool odor may be increasingly foul compared to the typical smell.
- Texture: Diverticulitis can cause diarrhea or constipation, causing the stool to be especially loose or firm.
- Frequency: The frequency can also be affected if you experience diarrhea or constipation.
- Effort: Stools may become more strained or painful.
- Shape: Diverticulitis stool shape is often thin and pellet-shaped, which is caused by distorted colon shape.
5. What Foods Can I Eat With Diverticulitis?
When learning to manage a diagnosis of diverticulitis, it's important to know what foods are beneficial to maintain a healthy diet of variety. Below we look at a few common items that people question when they formulate their diet around their diagnosis.
Traditionally, researchers believed that small particles like nuts and seeds might 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 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, there may be better choices than hummus. Hummus typically contains onions and garlic, 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 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 your body does not tolerate caffeine or added sugars well, stay away to avoid any potential GI symptoms. If your body tolerates soda well, it should be okay to drink in small amounts.
Aloe Vera Juice:
Researchers believe aloe vera juice may have some medicinal properties, such as relieving constipation and pain relief. This is considered a home remedy for a Diverticulitis flare and is not proven effective yet, so we recommend trying this approach with caution.
There are no recommendations specifically against eating pizza with Diverticulosis. However, it's essential to remember 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, 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.
6. What Causes Diverticular Bleeding?
Although the root cause of Diverticulosis is unknown, researchers believe diverticula form from high pressure pushing on weak spots in the colon wall. When your diet is low in fiber, stool motility through the intestines slows down, which increases transit time and pressure.
Diverticular pouches form in weak areas of your colon where blood vessels pass through the colon wall. Diverticular bleeding occurs when these blood vessels (within the pouches) burst open due to too much pressure.
7. What Are The Symptoms of Diverticular Bleeding?
The one and only symptom of diverticular bleeding is dark red, maroon, or bright red blood clots in the stool.
In some cases, you may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or weak. There is rarely any pain associated with diverticular bleeding, and the bleeding typically resolves independently. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to contact your doctor right away to identify and stop the source of the bleeding.
8. How is Diverticular Bleeding Diagnosed?
As with many GI conditions, diverticular bleeding is diagnosed by eliminating other potential causes of the bleeding. Several imaging methods can identify the location of the bleeding: angiography and colonoscopy.
An angiogram is an x-ray test that captures images of the blood flow in a blood vessel. Coloscopy inspects the colon using a long, flexible, lighted viewing scope. A less common alternative test is the technetium-labeled red blood cell bleeding scan. In this test, blood is drawn, mixed with a radioactive material called technetium, injected back into your bloodstream, and traced to the source of the bleeding.
9. How is Diverticular Bleeding Treated?
In most cases, diverticular bleeding will resolve on its own. However, in extreme cases, treatment may be necessary to stop the bleeding and replace lost blood. You may need to receive IV fluids, medicine, blood transfusions, and surgery to remove the affected area of the colon in rare cases.
Diverticular bleeding may be alarming, but in most cases, it is harmless. The bleeding will likely resolve on its own within a day or two. If the bleeding is severe, or you begin to feel lightheaded or weak, contact your doctor to determine if further intervention is needed.
10. How Can An Online Dietitian Help With Diverticulitis?
Once you've received your diagnosis, it's critical to follow a conscious diet that appropriately nourishes your body while avoiding items that irritate your diverticula, lead to inflammation and infection, and do so without causing you any discomfort.
Finding this balance can be challenging for those who require training in diet and information on this chronic illness.
To assist you in leading a happier, healthier life, a competent nutrition coach, such as a registered dietitian, will consider all of your particular circumstances as they relate to your Diverticulitis.
You have to decide whether you are prepared to commit to learning more about nutrition after receiving a diverticulitis diagnosis. Then you may design a lifestyle to prevent flare-ups, or you can wait and probably suffer as a result of whatever comes your way.
If you've read this far, you're probably ready to take charge of your health and adopt a lifestyle that will help you be the best version of yourself.
You don't have to let your diagnosis rule your life.
Our staff at OnPoint Nutrition approaches holistic nutrition counseling systematically.
We think that diet and way of life have a significant impact on health and wellness. Our team of skilled experts is here and ready to help you get started on the path to better health.
Taking the Next Steps
Diverticulitis may initially appear to be an insurmountable problem. Diverticular disease can be treated if you're persistent and determined.
Now that you are aware, you can examine, personalize, and evaluate your current lifestyle and the program you use to treat your chronic Diverticulitis to see what is most effective.
Our team of experts has supported over 3,000 people in their quest for wellness. We closely follow current research and adjust our approach to medical investigations' validated shifts.
We understand that success over the long term depends on upholding consistency and sustainability. Throughout your program, a dietitian will monitor your progress to ensure that it benefits you.
We'll keep an eye out for changes in your symptoms and chances to further tailor your experience to suit your needs and provide you with long-term symptom relief, complication prevention, and increased quality of life!
Getting in touch with a trained expert, such as OnPoint Nutrition's team of registered dietitians available online, can help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Let's empower you to take the road to the better health that you deserve.
Abby Aikens is a Content Manager who works with OnPoint Nutrition to spread the word about better health. With an arsenal of Dietitians and Nutritionists at her finger tips, Abby aids the mission of improving access to valuable information about how nutrition can change lives. Abby knows well the power of good nutrition and believes in the mission of OnPoint to educate and bring better health to their clients.