Diverticulosis is a condition that causes the lining of the intestines to bulge out, or herniate. The bulges themselves are not painful, but extreme pain results when food gets caught in one of the bulges as it passes through the intestine. The inflammation caused by food stuck in a diverticular pocket is called diverticulitis. Pain medications might help relieve some of the symptoms of diverticulosis, but they can also cause the colon to empty out. An empty colon can lead to further complications and is not worth the short relief from the pain medicine.
Hydration is an important part of a diverticulosis diet. Sufferers should drink at least 3 liters of water daily so that the food they digest does not solidify and become difficult to pass through the colon. Constipation can quickly lead to an infection because the digested matter is pushed into the diverticular pouches. Remaining properly hydrated is the first step toward reducing cases of diverticulitis.
A high fiber diet is another way to reduce chances of a diverticulitis inflammation. Many doctors recommend fiber supplements as well as high fiber diets for people with diverticulosis. The fiber helps move food through the digestive system more effectively. Rice, whole grain breads, and oatmeal should be staples in the diet of someone with diverticulosis. Choose whole wheat and whole grain options rather than white bread and rice. Dieticians recommend at least 6 - 11 servings of breads and grains daily.
An average of 4 servings of fruits and vegetables are also recommended for diverticulosis. The fruits and vegetables should be eaten whole and raw whenever possible since processing them can reduce their fiber content and make them less effective. Meats and dairy foods should make up 3 to 5 servings each day.
There is no evidence that eating foods with small seeds will irritate diverticulosis. Doctors used to believe that the seeds would become trapped in the small pouches in the intestine, but they are now convinced that the seeds do not cause any specific problems. Foods that should be avoided are the ones that are difficult to digest, like popcorn, hard nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.