What is Diverticular disease?

Diverticular disease, often referred to as Diverticulosis, is the presence of sacs or pockets in the inner lining of the colon.

Diverticula themselves do not cause symptoms and you might have had them for many years without knowing. As you can see from the picture it is easy for waste products to get trapped in these pockets which can cause inflammation or infection and associated symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and change in bowel habits and blood in stools.

Diverticula can develop when there is pressure on a weak area of the bowel wall; and therefore diverticular disease is common alongside constipation. Other risk factors include age; smoking, low fibre intake and use of some drugs including steroids. It is important to note that evidence also suggest some people are genetically predisposed to diverticular disease.

 

Whilst you cannot cure Diverticular disease you can manage your symptoms and reduce the likelihood of a flare up.

 

Photo credit: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
What is Diverticular disease? What can I eat? Image

If you are experiencing a flare up and are symptomatic with fever, significant abdominal pain and/or blood in stools I would advise you contact your GP who might advise you start a course of antibiotics at home or be admitted to hospital for intravenous antibiotics.

Is there a special diet for Diverticular Disease?

In a word, no!

 

The dietary advice can be confusing for people with Diverticular disease. All too often I see clients who tell me they were given the diagnosis of Diverticular disease but with little or no dietary information and feel confused over whether to include fibre or not in their diet to best manage their gut and bowel symptoms.

 

The optimal diet Diverticular disease is largely the same for the rest of the population and if you do not have any symptoms you do not need to remove any foods from your diet. However you might want to pay closer attention to your fibre and fluid intake to ensure a regular soft bowel motion to help prevent flare ups. Conversely when suffering with an acute flare up of Diverticular disease you would benefit from reducing your total fibre intake and type of fibre.

 

Lets break this down a little further…

 

There are two different types of fibre and you can include both insoluble and soluble fibre in your diet. Insoluble fibre provides bulk to your stools and sources include wholegrain products e.g. seeded bread and skins and stalks of fruit and vegetables e.g. woody stalk of kale leaves, skin of apples etc; and nuts and seeds. Soluble fibre is found in the flesh of fruit and vegetables, pulses e.g. chickpeas, oats and linseeds. Soluble fibre acts like a sponge, soaking up water to keep the stool soft to allow easier passage through the bowel.

 

It is also important to drink plenty of fluids when increasing your fibre intake.

Exercise or physical activity also helps to prevent constipation.

 

How can I reduce my fibre intake but still ensure I am eating a healthy diet?

You do not need to avoid all fibre and limit yourself to beige foods.

 

If you are struggling with regular bouts of Diverticulitis you might benefit from reducing your intake of insoluble fibre as foods containing pips, seeds and skins are common culprits for getting trapped in the diverticula pockets. Insoluble fibre can also irritate the gut and contribute to pain.

 

You can however include soluble fibre options instead of insoluble e.g. use smooth nut butters instead of chunky nut butters or hummous instead of whole chickpea. To ensure you are not missing out on nutrients from vegetables you can make homemade soups and blitz them to a smooth consistency.

What is Diverticular disease? What can I eat? image

Victoria is highly experienced in the management of Diverticular disease and can help you find a way to manage your symptoms and continue to enjoy a wide variety of foods.

 

Contact Victoria by clicking here or by emailing hello@victoriadeprez.co.uk

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