The presence of diverticula -- small, sac-like pouches in the large intestine -- is known as diverticulosis, which most often has no symptoms. When food, stool or bacteria become stuck in the diverticula, they become inflamed or infected. This condition is known as diverticulitis. In general, most individuals with diverticulitis should follow a low-fiber diet to allow the intestines to heal. However, each person is unique, and some individuals may experience worsening symptoms with certain foods while others may be able to tolerate those foods.
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Vegetables to Avoid
During a diverticulitis flare-up, avoid high-fiber vegetables, which include any raw vegetables with skins or seeds and undercooked vegetables -- broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, artichoke, celery, eggplant, corn, potatoes with skin, spinach, kale, tomatoes and squash. Vegetable juice with pulp or seeds should be avoided, and smooth vegetable juice should be limited to 4 ounces per day. Gas-forming vegetables such as cabbage, sauerkraut, peppers, broccoli, beets, mushrooms, onions, okra, lima beans, parsnips and Brussels sprouts should also be avoided with diverticulitis, too.
Other Foods to Avoid
Other foods to avoid on a low-fiber diet include whole grains, like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice; raw fruits with skins; prune juice and fruit juice with pulp; dried beans, peas and lentils. Nuts, seeds and products containing them ought to be avoided. Greasy, fried and sugary goods are also off-limits. Milk and milk products -- which are high in the sugar lactose -- should be limited.
Prevention of Diverticulitis
Although it seems counter-intuitive, the high-fiber foods you restrict during a diverticulitis flare-up are what you should consume most of the time to prevent diverticulitis. Getting 30 to 35 grams of fiber per day is suggested by the Stanford University Medical Center. Along with a high-fiber diet, adequate fluid intake is recommended. Probiotic foods like yogurt and miso daily may be helpful.
Transitioning Back to a Normal Diet
Diverticulitis symptoms may include extreme abdominal pain, commonly in the left lower quadrant, as well as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. After you've followed a low-fiber diet for the flare-up and all of these symptoms resolve, you can slowly add back fiber-containing foods -- including vegetables -- as long as your doctor okays it. You may gradually add back other healthy foods you were limiting, such as dairy and whole grains, too.
- Stanford Health Care: Low Fiber Diet for Diverticulitis
- MedlinePlus: Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diverticular Disease
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Low Residue Diet Nutrition Therapy
- Stanford University Medical Center: Low Fiber Diet for Diverticulitis