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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to DiverticulitisDiverticulitis

Diverticula forming in
the large intestine.

As their bodies age, about half of people 60 years or older suffer from weakened sections of lower digestive tract.

These sections appear as bulges (known as diverticula) within the walls of the colon and this condition is called diverticulosis. The condition known as diverticulitis is diagnosed whenever these bulges become inflamed or infected.

Milder symptoms of diverticulosis (which are also common to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS) include occasional bloating, cramping or constipation.

When diverticula become inflamed, diverticulitis symptoms may occur suddenly and without warning, and typically include pain and tenderness on the left side of the lower abdomen. If infection is the cause, other symptoms may present themselves in the form of fever, chills, severe cramping, vomiting and constipation.

As this stage, treatment with antibiotics is important since, left unchecked, diverticulitis may develop into more serious complications such as intestinal bleeding, tears or perforations. Abscesses may also form in infected areas that may require surgery.

Diverticulitis Diet

Although there is no scientific evidence that eating seeds and nuts may cause flare-ups, there is general agreement that a high-fiber diet - and drinking plenty of fluids - may significantly lower risk of diverticulitis.

  • Bran or whole grain cereals, wheat bran

  • Whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta.

  • Bananas, apples, peaches, oranges, pears

  • Beans, peas and lentils

  • Carrots, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and plenty of salad greens

Causes of Diverticulitis

Since the condition was only first recognized in the early 20th century - when highly processed foods were introduced to the modern diet - many researchers point to a low-fiber diet and slow bowel action as the main cause of diverticulitis.

The theory is strengthened by the fact that diverticulitis is almost unheard of in less-developed nations where whole grains and vegetables make up most of the daily diet.

Seed, Nut & Diet Debate

Experts remain convinced that the successful treatment of the condition derives from a lifestyle change - including increased exercise as well as more fluids and high fiber foods introduced into the diet each day.

However, in the recent past, many patients have taken to avoiding seeds and nuts (while still maintaining a high fiber diet) upon their doctor's advice with much reported success.

While there is still no scientific evidence that small seeds or particles of nuts lodging in the diverticula may cause diverticulitis, it may aggravate an existing condition.

Therefore, avoiding seeds and nuts is best if you think they may be causing sudden flare-ups.

Foods to avoid if you have diverticulitis:

  • nuts

  • seeds (poppy, caraway, sesame, tomato)

  • small-seeded berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

  • hulls (i.e., popcorn)

Around the Web, learn more about the condition at expert sites with more facts & information on probable causes, current treatment options and helpful tips on avoiding risk ....

also see in Diseases & Conditions -> Crohns disease

More about diverticulitis around the Web:

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
- Here's a helpful fact sheet explaining causes, treatment and risk factors of both conditions, a table of recommended fruits, vegetables and high fiber grains to help ward off attacks, with recommended reading and related links.

Diverticulitis - Check out his extensive WebMD guide to the topic with illustrations, facts & information on causes & treatment, advice on when to call a doctor or seek surgery, plus tips on diet & home treatment remedies, related links.

Diverticular Disease - Merck Manual - The online medical encyclopedia offers a concise explanation of diverticulitis, diverticulosis and Meckel's diverticulum, including facts on symptoms, diagnostic procedures & established treatments.

Diverticulitis and Diet - Browse a good overview of symptoms and causes with focus on diverticulitis diet guidelines and high fiber.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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