Diverticulosis refers to a gastrointestinal disorder that causes small pouches, or diverticula, to form on weak spots along the inner lining of your colon, or large intestine. When these pouches are irritated or inflamed, this acute disorder is known as diverticulitis. Your physician or nutritionist will recommend specific diets for various phases of diverticular disease. Peanut butter is allowed on some of these diets, but not on others.
Diveritculosis and Diverticulitis
Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms, but some complain of periodic cramping and bloating in the lower abdomen, along with constipation. Once diverticulitis begins, you may suffer from significant pain or tenderness on the lower left side of your abdomen, vomiting, nausea, a change in your bowel habits, fever and chills. Learn to identify these symptoms so you can adjust your diet accordingly.
Peanut Butter and Fiber
Dietary fiber comes from the parts of fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods that your body can’t digest. A 2 tbsp. serving of chunky peanut butter contains 2.6g of fiber and the same amount of creamy peanut butter provides 1.9g of fiber. Continuum Health Partners lists peanuts as one of the top 20 high-fiber foods.
Some physicians advise patients with diverticular disease to avoid foods that contain nuts and seeds because they believe small bits of those high-fiber foods can build up inside the diverticula and cause diverticulitis attacks. However, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says there is no scientific evidence to support this advice and you do not need to avoid particular foods during the chronic phase of your disease. During a diverticulitis attack, however, stay away from peanut butter.
Eat a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of water and other fluids to keep your diverticulosis under good control. Once you notice symptoms of diverticulitis, stop eating solid foods, including peanut butter. Stick with a clear liquid diet that includes most fluids you can see through, as well as foods that melt to create clear liquids at room temperature. When your symptoms improve after two or three days, gradually reintroduce low-fiber foods, but avoid peanut butter. You can go back to eating peanut butter as part of a high-fiber diet once your symptoms have completely gone away.
Peanut butter has plenty of fiber to promote normal bowel function, but it’s also high in calories and fat. A 2 tbsp. serving of chunky peanut butter contains 188 calories and almost 16g of fat. Add peanut butter to your diet in moderation, spreading a thin layer of peanut butter on whole-wheat toast for a high-fiber snack. You can add a small amount of peanut butter to stir-fry dishes or use it to make satay sauce.