Diverticulitis is a digestive disease that affects your colon. Many people develop small pouches, caused by the pressure of constipated stool pressing against weak spots in the intestinal wall. Sometimes these sacs become inflamed, creating the painful and potentially serious condition called diverticulitis. The most common symptom is pain, especially in the lower left abdomen. Although not proven, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse notes that while a healthy person should consume a high fiber diet, a person with diverticulitis needs to eat a low-fiber diet to give the colon a rest.
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Normally, you consume a high fiber diet to keep your stool soft. Fiber scrapes stool from the inside of your colon before the stool has a chance to harden, or constipate, in one area. When you are experiencing the symptoms of diverticulitis, however, dietary fiber can irritate your colon and worsen the pain. At these times, consume food that is naturally soft and contains high amounts of moisture to prevent stool from drying out and collecting along intestinal walls, causing the bulges that are typical of diverticulitis. Return to a high-fiber diet slowly as you recover from diverticulitis.
Food containing a high level of liquid and beverages soften the stool. Substances such as gelatin, pudding and yogurt have a lot of water. Drink canned vegetable juice to gain some of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Keep your stool soft by drinking plenty of fluids without caffeine because caffeine is a diuretic that will remove fluid from your intestinal tract and harden stool.
Soft foods are easy to digest. Eat soft foods that are low in fiber to avoid exacerbating the discomfort and other symptoms of diverticulitis. Canned or cooked skinless fruit is high in moisture. The USDA National Nutrient Database notes that raw watermelon and pears contain large amounts of water and are low in fiber. Cook vegetables to reduce the occurrence of gas, which can be particularly painful for those with diverticulitis. Consume refined white bread instead of whole wheat products.
Only plant foods contain dietary fiber, so low-fat meats and dairy products with high moisture content have a therapeutic role in the dietary guidelines for diverticulitis. Fat, while low in dietary fiber, sometimes leads to gastric upset so choose lean cuts of fish poultry and add plenty of broth to the dish. Choose cereals low in fiber and consume only white pasta, rice and noodles.