Diverticulosis develops when small pouches, diverticula, form in the lining of the intestine. Often, doctors prescribe certain foods to help treat the symptoms of the condition. Likewise, they may provide their patients with a list of foods to avoid; these items are notorious for causing more severe symptoms of diverticulosis. Avoiding these foods will not cure the condition, but can prevent flareups and some unnecessary pain.


For decades, the scientific community, as well as health professionals and patients, has recommended that people with diverticulosis avoid popcorn. The popular snack food contains small seeds that can lodge in the diverticula, causing inflammation and worsening symptoms. However, modern science also cites a lack of correlation between such foods and diverticulosis. As such, there is currently no consensus regarding this food.



Next on the list of foods to avoid are nuts. Just like popcorn, nuts can irritate the diverticula and thus increase the risk of aggravating symptoms such as pain and discomfort. A diverticulosis diet should focus on allowing the bowel to rest, heal, and recover, and nuts can be difficult to digest.  Therefore, doctors recommend including lots of clear liquids, such as broths and vegetable juices, to ease the efforts of the system and reduce inflammation and pain. Fiber, in general, should be minimized to accommodate rapid healing. Again, however, not all doctors or research agrees on the exclusion of nuts to alleviate diverticulosis.



In addition to specific popcorn seeds, seeds in general often top doctors' lists of foods to avoid on the diverticulosis diet. Despite being rich in nutrients and minerals, seeds contain a high amount of fiber. The outer shell can irritate the intestinal walls, causing an increase in diverticulosis symptoms. People with the condition should aim to eliminate products such as corn, sesame seeds, and certain fruits and vegetables with seeds, such as cucumber, tomatoes, and zucchini, cherries, and blueberries.


Fruits and Vegetable Skins

People with diverticulosis who are fans of game day snacks like potato skins might be disappointed by this item on the list. These individuals should avoid food peels. Skins contain some of the most fiber-rich, difficult-to-digest parts of the fruit or vegetable, and therefore pose a risk for an acute bout of inflammation. The lining of the intestine can quickly become inflamed due to the rough exterior of, for example, potatoes. Moreover, these people should avoid legumes such as lentils and dried beans, which also have tough, fibrous skins. 


Green Vegetables

It is important for everyone to include fruits and vegetables in their diets. When it comes to people with diverticulosis, however, this fact comes with some restrictions and cautions. Ideally, individuals with this condition will boil or mash their vegetables, making them easier to digest. Greens -- especially fiber-rich Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale -- may be better consumed in smaller amounts to avoid flareups.  


Whole Grains

Bread, pasta, and baked goods are popular foods in the Western diet. However, whole-grain foods contain large amounts of fiber, making them more difficult for people with diverticulosis to digest. These people should aim to eliminate whole grains from their diets, substituting them with white rice and enriched white bread. Avoid wild rice, oats, and, grainy bread.


Spicy Foods

Many people avoid spicy foods because they can irritate the digestive tract. Often, people find that consuming spicy food causes gas and abdominal pain. This is also true for people with diverticulosis, who should stay away from hot spices such as chili, jalapeno and other hot peppers, hot paprika or spices such as cayenne. Spicy food can cause inflammation and pain, as well as difficult bowel movements. Some people are more tolerant than others of spicy foods, so individuals with diverticulosis may choose to try small amounts to determine their individual thresholds.



Another product that many people with diverticulosis must limit is corn. This food is rich in both fiber and sugar, and its skin is difficult to digest. Those who love the taste of this fibrous vegetable might consider eating cream corn, which has less fiber and softer skins than unprocessed corn, making it much easier to digest without any complications.



Many people have trouble with certain components of dairy, including the protein casein and the natural sugar lactose. Both substances can cause digestive issues and many people with diverticulosis find it best to opt for lactose-free dairy options or avoid dairy altogether. While each person's digestive system is unique, some people who cannot tolerate cow dairy can safely eat small quantities of goat, sheep or buffalo's dairy.


Bell Peppers

Another food culprit of diverticulosis flareups is bell pepper. People with the condition may want to avoid both green and red bell peppers, which cause problems not only because of their tough skin but their fiber-rich structure in general. Both types can cause bloating and discomfort, as well as abdominal pain in some cases. Like many foods on the list, individuals with the condition can avoid bell peppers during acute flareups of diverticulosis, and reintroduce them, as tolerated, once the event subsides. 


Red Meat

A diet high in red meat could potentially exacerbate diverticulosis symptoms. This is because both fresh and processed forms of red meat can influence gut bacteria and potentially irritate the intestinal lining. If you're accustomed to a meat-rich diet, consider transitioning towards leaner proteins, such as chicken, turkey, or fish, to reduce the risk of aggravating your symptoms.

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Refined Sugar

Refined sugars are found in many foods, from pastries and candies to sodas. While these can be tempting, their inflammation-causing properties can trigger diverticulosis symptoms. By reducing the intake of these foods and opting for healthier alternatives, you could potentially improve your digestive health and overall wellbeing.

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Caffeine is a staple in many of our diets, but for individuals with diverticulosis, it might be best to limit consumption. Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks can potentially irritate the digestive tract, leading to discomfort. Consider reducing your intake or switching to decaffeinated options to mitigate this issue.

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Alcohol's diuretic effect can contribute to dehydration, potentially worsening symptoms of diverticulosis. Consider limiting your intake or alternating alcoholic drinks with water to help maintain your hydration levels. In severe cases, it might be best to avoid alcohol altogether.

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Fried Foods

While they may be enjoyable to eat, fried foods can be tough on the digestive system. These types of foods can lead to inflammation and exacerbate diverticulosis symptoms. Opting for healthier cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, or steaming, can be a wise choice for those with this condition.

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Certain Gas-Producing Foods

Some foods are known to cause gas and bloating, and these can lead to discomfort for those with diverticulosis. Foods like broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and carbonated drinks fall into this category. To reduce discomfort, consider limiting these foods and substituting them with less gas-inducing alternatives.

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Non-Food Factors: Sedentary Lifestyle

Regular physical activity is beneficial for overall gut health. A sedentary lifestyle, characterized by low physical activity, could potentially aggravate diverticulosis. Regular exercises, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or yoga, can promote bowel regularity and reduce pressure on your colon.

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Non-Food Factors: Smoking

Smoking has been linked to numerous health issues, including diverticulosis. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of diverticulosis and improve your overall health. Various resources and programs are available to assist with smoking cessation, and your healthcare provider can help guide you through this process.

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Non-Food Factors: Lack of Hydration

Keeping well-hydrated is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements and reducing the risk of symptoms associated with diverticulosis. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, although this amount can vary depending on individual needs, activity levels, and climate.

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Non-Food Factors: High Stress Levels

Stress can affect many aspects of health, including the digestive system. Chronic stress could potentially exacerbate diverticulosis symptoms. Implementing stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, into your daily routine can help maintain a healthier digestive system.

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Non-Food Factors: Insufficient Sleep

Getting regular, good-quality sleep is essential for overall health, including digestive health. Lack of sleep can impact bowel habits and potentially worsen the symptoms of diverticulosis. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night and maintain a regular sleep schedule to support better sleep quality.

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