Diverticulitis results in abdominal pain, cramping, nausea and fever. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is likely associated with your diet. When you have a diverticulitis flare-up, you should avoid certain foods, but the list of foods to avoid can vary from person to person.
Diverticulosis is a medical condition in which diverticula, or small, bulging pouches, form anywhere in your digestive system, including your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. However, they most commonly form in the large intestine. Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches become inflamed or infected. You can have diverticulosis, but not experience a flare-up of diverticulitis. Doctors used to advise patients with this condition not to eat nuts and seeds because these small foods could lodge in the pouches, resulting in irritation and infection. However, MayoClinic.com notes that there is no scientific evidence to back up this theory.
A study published in 2008 in "The Journal of the American Medical Association" found no link between eating nuts and having bouts of diverticulitis. The study followed 47,288 men for 18 years. At the beginning of the study, none of the men had any diverticular complications. Over the 18-year study, there were 801 new cases of diverticulitis and 383 new cases of diverticular bleeding. However, for those who developed diverticulitis, eating nuts, popcorn and seeds did not cause diverticular bleeding or create diverticular complications. In fact, the study found that men who consumed more nuts had a 20 percent lower risk of developing diverticulitis.
If you have diverticulosis, doctors recommend eating a high-fiber diet. A diet high in fiber keeps intestinal waste soft and allows it to pass through the colon quickly and easily. High-fiber foods reduce the risk of constipation and pressure in your intestine. Eating a high-fiber diet may decrease the frequency of diverticulitis flare-ups. Some nuts, such as almonds, pistachios and pecans, are high in fiber and can be an important part of your diet.
When you have a diverticulitis flare-up, your doctor may recommend eating a clear liquid diet, which includes broth and clear juices. After the flare-up, consume only low fiber foods and slowly introduce fiber back into your diet. Food triggers can vary among individuals. Use a journal to track your reaction to different foods. If you feel that nuts irritate your condition and trigger attacks of diverticulitis, then eliminate them from your diet.
- MayoClinic.com; Diverticulitis Diet: Should I Avoid Nuts and Seeds?; Michael F. Picco; Jan. 16, 2010
- "The Journal of the American Medical Association"; Nut, Corn and Popcorn Consumption and the Incidence of Diverticular Disease; Lisa L. Strate, et al.; 2008
- Maine Medical Center; Diverticular Disease
- University of California Medical Center; Diverticular Disease and Diet; February 2, 2011
- MayoClinic.com; High-Fiber Foods; Nov. 17, 2009