Diverticulitis occurs when small pouches in your intestines called diverticula become infected or inflamed. Diverticula most commonly occur in the large intestine or colon. Weak spots in the wall of the colon give way under pressure and small pouches protrude through the colon wall. Your doctor will recommend a three-stage diverticulitis diet: clear liquids, low-fiber foods and high fiber foods. The second and third stages usually include wheat, but you can substitute other grains or carbohydrates.
Diverticulitis and Diet
Although the cause of diverticulitis is unknown, a low fiber diet is thought to increase the risk of developing this condition, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. A diverticulitis diet usually begins with clear liquids or foods such as gelatin and broth to provide a little nourishment and some fluids while giving the irritated bowel a chance to rest and heal. The next step is low-fiber foods such as canned or cooked fruits, canned or cooked vegetables, eggs, fish, poultry and refined or white bread.
Once the acute inflammation and pain of diverticulitis subside, your doctor will usually recommend that you increase the fiber in your diet. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables soften waste material and make it pass through your colon more quickly. The increased fiber and fluids are thought to reduce the risk of a diverticulitis attack. MayoClinic.com recommends that you try to eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day and drink plenty of fluids. The fiber will absorb the water and help keep your stools soft.
Wheat Flour Substitutes
If you have diverticulitis and are allergic to wheat or are wheat intolerant, you may also need to avoid flours made from barley and rye. If you want to avoid wheat for some other reason, you may use these flours. Experiment with flours made from rice, garbanzo beans, potato starch, ground oats or tapioca. Combinations of these flours may give the best results. The structure and texture of nonwheat flours is different from wheat and you may need to modify recipes to get the best results.
Brown rice flour is higher in fiber than refined white rice flour and is a good choice once you can eat high-fiber foods. Oatmeal is another good high-fiber choice. Substitute whole-grain gluten-free breads for breads made with wheat flour. Whole-grain rice noodles or pasta are an acceptable substitute for wheat noodles. Other sources of high-fiber carbohydrates to replace wheat in a diverticulitis diet include legumes and corn. If you have questions about diverticulitis or a diverticulitis diet, consult a health-care professional.