Diverticulosis & Lettuce

Close-up of fresh salad greens
Lettuce provides dietary fiber. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you have diverticulosis, small pouches lining your colon bulge through weak spots. Each of these pouches is called a diverticulum. This is a common condition – about 10 percent of U.S. adults over 40 have it. Your chances of developing diverticulosis go up as you age. Some 50 percent of Americans older than 60 have diverticulosis. Eating foods such as lettuce, can help you manage your condition.

Significance

Increasing your dietary fiber intake with foods like lettuce may reduce your symptoms of diverticulosis, as well as prevent complications including diverticulitis, which is an inflammation. Although this condition may have no noticeable symptoms, it may also cause lower-abdominal discomfort, cramp-like pain, constipation and bloating. The pain can be sudden and severe, or it can start out as mild pain that worsens over several days. You also may have nausea, cramping, vomiting, chills, fever or bowl-habit changes. Increasing dietary fiber is considered the primary treatment for this condition.

Benefits

Fiber is found in vegetables including lettuce, as well as fruits and grains. This indigestible portion of these foods keeps your stools soft and helps lower pressure inside your colon, helping the stools to move more easily. Consume 20 g to 35 g of fiber daily to gain a benefit. Lettuce is among foods with high-fiber content, providing, on average, about 1 g of fiber per cup, according to “Nutrition for the Older Adult,” by Melissa Bernstein and Ann Schmidt Luggen.

Prevention

Although it hasn't been proven, a low-fiber diet may cause diverticulosis, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The condition is common in America and other industrialized countries where low-fiber diets are the norm. It is rare in Asia, where high-fiber diets are the norm. Eating vegetable salads and other fibrous foods may help you prevent diverticulosis.

Considerations

Different types of lettuce provide varying amounts of fiber. For example, 1 cup of romaine lettuce has about 1.2 g of fiber, whereas 1 cup of iceberg lettuce has .7 g of fiber. Other foods have higher fiber content, including lentils, which have 15.6 g per cup, bran cereal, which can provide 9.6 g per ½ cup, cooked spinach, which has 4.3 g per cup, cooked carrots, which provide 2.5 g per ½ cup, and apples, which average 4 g per fruit.

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