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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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