Diverticulitis, the inflammation and infection of small pouches called diverticula that infiltrate the lining of your colon, is a complication of diverticular disease, which generally begins as diverticulosis. These small pouches can develop anywhere along your digestive tract but generally form in the colon. A diverticulitis diet does not treat or prevent the condition but it does help during symptom flares. Alcohol consumption during this time can further complicate symptom incidence and duration.
Diverticulitis Risk, Symptoms and Treatment
The exact cause of diverticular disease is not fully understood but factors involved in diverticula formation include a low-fiber diet, alcohol use, obesity, smoking and aging. Symptoms of diverticulitis include lower abdominal tenderness, nausea or vomiting, gas and bloating, urinary frequency and bowel irregularity. For some, symptoms can worsen and require hospitalization for treatment. Depending on severity of symptoms your physician may prescribe pain medication, antibiotics, a temporary low fiber and high fluid diet and avoidance of digestive irritants such as alcohol, coffee or tea and acidic produce.
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The goal of a diverticulitis diet during symptom flares is to give your digestive tract a break from irritants while you are being treated by your medical team. A two-to-three day clear liquid diet to include broth, pulp-free fruit juices, plain gelatin and water can help during a painful attack. After a few days of clear liquid you can reintroduce low-fiber foods slowly including eggs, white bread, milk and cheese, tender chicken or fish, well-cooked vegetables and white rice. Once your symptoms subside increase your fiber intake to normal levels. During the liquid and low-fiber phase of the diet do not drink alcohol because it may cause symptom relapse or worsening.
Gradual Fiber Increase
Normal daily fiber recommendations are between 25 to 38 g but do not rapidly jump from a low-fiber to high-fiber diet after experiencing a symptom episode. Add fibrous foods gradually including brown rice, fresh fruits, bean varieties and bran cereal. You can return to eating steamed or raw vegetables as well once you no longer experience symptoms. A high-fiber diet may help to minimize symptom recurrence and duration.
Alcohol and Diverticulitis
Consult your physician for exact recommendations for alcohol consumption after your symptoms subside. If you are able to include alcohol back into your diet, drink moderately to avoid further complications. Moderate consumption equates to no more than two standard beverages a day. A standard serving of beer is 12 oz. and a standard serving of wine is 5 oz. Liquor, or distilled spirits, standard serving is 1.5 oz.
Alcohol Use Cautions
You may have to take a course of pain medications and antibiotics as part of your diverticulitis treatment. Alcohol consumption while taking these types of medications can cause interactions. Dizziness, stomach upset, drowsiness, vomiting and diarrhea are a few of the symptoms you may experience if you mix alcohol with your medications. Discuss your desire to consume alcohol with your physician if you are taking medications.
- MayoClinic.com; Diverticulitis Diet; Mayo Clinic Staff; July 2009
- MedlinePlus: Diverticulitis
- American College of Gastroenterology; Diverticular Disease of the Colon; Ernst Bontemps, M.D. et al
- Cleveland Clinic: Colonic Diverticular Disease
- MayoClinic.com; Alcohol Use; If you Drink, Keep it Moderate; Mayo Clinic Staff; March 15, 2011