Diverticulosis is a medical condition where small pouches, called diverticula, form in the lining of the digestive tract, especially in the colon. While it is usually harmless and symptom-free, there can be occasional complications such as diverticulitis, which is inflammation or infection of the diverticula. If you have this condition, keep reading as we delve into the causes of diverticulosis, discuss preventive measures, and provide dietary recommendations for individuals living with it.
What Causes Diverticulosis?
One of the main culprits behind diverticulosis is a deficiency in dietary fiber. When our diet lacks fiber, it can result in constipation and heightened pressure within the colon, making it more difficult to have regular bowel movements. As this pressure builds up, it weakens the colon walls, creating the perfect environment for those pesky little pouches to develop.
Risk factors such as aging, being overweight, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle can also play a role in the development of diverticulosis.
While some risk factors for diverticulosis, such as age, cannot be controlled, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing the condition:
- Increasing your fiber intake: According to the Institute of Medicine, adults under 50 years old should aim for approximately 38 grams of fiber for men and 25 grams for women. If you're over 50, adjust your target to 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women.
To maintain healthy bowel movements, include an array of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts in your daily diet.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking an ample amount of water throughout the day supports proper digestion and prevents constipation. The general recommendation for daily water intake varies depending on factors such as age, sex, activity level, climate, and overall health.
Drink lots of water throughout the day to prevent constipation. A commonly cited guideline is to aim for about 2 liters per day.
- Exercising regularly: Engaging in physical activity promotes healthy bowel movements and reduces pressure on the colon. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. To maximize the benefits of your fitness routine, it is recommended to include strength training exercises 2 to 3 times per week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of diverticulosis. Remember to eat nutrient-dense foods and stay active!
4 Foods To Eat More
Do you have diverticulosis and are wondering what foods you should eat and what foods you should avoid? Look no further, here are 4 foods to eat and 4 to avoid to prevent complications and promote healthy digestion:
- Fiber-rich fruits: Apples, berries, pears, and oranges are excellent choices.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and kale are high in fiber and beneficial for overall digestive health.
- Whole grains: Opt for whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole grain cereals to increase your fiber intake.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are great sources of fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients.
4 Foods To Eat Less
While it is crucial to increase your fiber intake, certain foods can potentially trigger symptoms or worsen diverticulosis. It is advisable to limit or avoid the following:
- Refined grains: White bread, white rice, and processed cereals are low in fiber and should be consumed sparingly.
- Red meat: High consumption of red meat has been associated with an increased risk of diverticulosis complications.
- Spicy foods: Spices, hot peppers, and chili powder may irritate the digestive system, potentially exacerbating symptoms.
- Seeds and nuts: Historically, doctors recommended avoiding seeds and nuts, fearing they might lodge in diverticula and cause complications. However, recent research suggests that this restriction may not be necessary for most individuals. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional regarding personal dietary restrictions.
To effectively prevent diverticulitis flare-ups, it is essential to incorporate key practices into your lifestyle. These include gradually increasing your fiber intake, ensuring proper hydration, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you require further assistance, our dedicated team is here to support you. Don't hesitate to consult with your care team to develop a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs.