September 10, 2015
Does Diet Matter?
1. Diverticulitis diet: Can certain foods trigger an attack?
Actually, no specific foods are known to trigger a diverticulitis attack. And there's no diverticulitis diet that's been proven to prevent attacks. Still, following a so-called diverticulitis diet remains a popular, if unproven, way to try to prevent or treat diverticulitis attacks. Nuts, seeds, and popcorn were once discouraged under a diverticulitis diet because they were said to trigger diverticulitis attacks. But research shows that seeds and popcorn don't increase the risk of diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding, so it's OK to eat them even if you have diverticulosis.
If you're trying to prevent diverticulitis attacks, focus less on a so-called diverticulitis diet and more on an overall healthy diet that's high in fiber. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, soften waste and help it pass more quickly through your colon. This reduces pressure within your digestive tract, which can reduce the risk of diverticulitis attacks.If you think that you're having a diverticulitis attack (we) suggest that you follow a clear-liquid diet for two or three days, and then gradually add in low-fiber foods. This kind of diverticulitis diet helps your digestive tract rest and heals during treatment.
2. Can people with diverticulitis eat nuts and seeds? I've heard conflicting advice.
In the past, many doctors recommended that people with diverticulosis avoid seeds and nuts, including foods with small seeds, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries. It was thought that these tiny particles could lodge in the diverticula and cause inflammation (diverticulitis). But there is no scientific evidence that seeds and nuts cause diverticulitis flares. In fact, eating a high-fiber diet — which may include nuts and seeds — may reduce the risk of diverticular disease. However, if you have diverticulitis and you believe that nuts and seeds trigger your attacks, avoid these foods. Just make sure you get enough fiber from other dietary sources.Answer from Michael F. Picco, M.D