One in 10 Americans over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. Most medical experts think a low-fiber diet causes diverticulosis by creating small pouches in the wall of the large intestine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. When these pouches become inflamed, that acute disorder is known as diverticulitis.
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Some people with diverticulosis remain symptom-free, but others complain of abdominal cramping, bloating and constipation. Diverticulitis can cause sudden severe pain or tenderness in your lower left abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and changes in your bowel movements. The type of food you eat helps determine the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
Your physician will recommend a high-fiber diet for long-term management of your diverticulosis and prevention of diverticulitis episodes. When you experience symptoms of diverticulitis, the doctor may advise you to change to a clear liquid diet for two to three days, says MedlinePlus. After your symptoms improve, you can slowly introduce low-fiber foods while watching for new or worsening symptoms.
Fiber refers to the portions of fruits, vegetables and grains that your body can’t digest. White rice has been processed to remove some of the undigestable portions, so it qualifies as a low-fiber food that’s safe to eat after your diverticulitis symptoms begin to improve. Brown and wild rice, however, contain significant amounts of fiber. Avoid these types of rice until your diverticulitis attack is over and you’re back on your regular diverticulosis diet.
Undigested fiber creates residue that combines with waste products in your intestines to form stools, or bowel movements. Low-fiber foods like white rice provide enough residue to create soft stools that pass through your intestines easily and allow your bowel to colon to heal from the diverticulitis.
Drink plenty of fluids so your colon can combine fiber residue and water into soft, formed stools. If you notice that your diverticulitis gets worse when you add low-fiber foods like white rice, notify your doctor. He or she may want to admit you to the hospital for more intensive treatment.