Diverticulosis is one of the most common diseases in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic, affecting 33 percent of those over the age of 45 and 66 percent of those over the age of 85. Characterized by sac-like pouches that bulge out along the colon wall, it is most often seen in the sigmoid part of the colon in Western cultures, says the Harvard Medical School. If you have sigmoid diverticulosis, your doctor may recommend you follow a high-fiber diet. Consult your doctor if you're experiencing signs of acute diverticulitis -- lower abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting.
While some people are predisposed to developing diverticulosis, additional pressure and contraction on the colon caused by issues such as constipation may increase your risk. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate your body cannot digest. Eating fiber, especially foods high in insoluble fiber such as peas, helps make stools easier to pass, preventing constipation. Additionally, fiber in food acts as a food source for the friendly bacteria found in your colon. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids that help promote colon health.
How Much Fiber
Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is recommended that you consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat. In general, women need 25 grams of fiber a day, while men need 38 grams. Add fiber to your diet slowly to prevent abdominal pain and gas, and drink at least 8 cups of fluid a day to prevent constipation.
Sources of Fiber
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all good sources of fiber. A 1/2-cup serving of kidney beans has almost 8 grams of fiber, and the same serving of black beans has 6 grams. You can also up your fiber and insoluble fiber intake with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, apples with the skin, raspberries, whole-wheat pasta and bread, barley, popcorn and flaxseeds.
Nuts, Corn and Popcorn
For many years, doctors recommended that those with diverticulosis avoid nuts, corn and popcorn. It was believed, although there was no evidence, that the undigested parts of these foods would lodge themselves in the diverticular pouches and cause infection. However, a 2008 cohort study of U.S. men published in "The Journal of the American Medical Association" found no association between the consumption of these foods and complications related to diverticular disease. Additionally, it was found that the men who ate the most nuts, corn and popcorn had fewer complications than the men who ate the least.
- Cleveland Clinic: Colonic Diverticular Disease
- Harvard Medical School: Diverticular Disease of the Colon
- UCSF Medical Center: Diverticular Disease Diet
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Fiber
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Nut, Corn and Popcorn and the Incidence of Diverticular Disease