5 dietary tips to help avoid diverticular disease

October 9, 2015

Diverticular disease can be extremely painful, but it could be prevented through diet. Try these easy dietary tips to reduce your chances of diverticular disease.

5 dietary tips to help avoid diverticular disease

1. Eat more fibre

  • Provided you drink plenty of fluids as well, fibre protects intestinal walls by making stools easier to pass, and by decreasing tension within the walls.
  • Packing about 30 grams of fibre into your diet each day could cut your risk of developing diverticulitis by 47 percent.
  • If you've already had a painful episode, boosting the fibre in your meals could help prevent a repeat attack.
  • Researchers now suspect that fibre also promotes a healthier environment in the intestines. It provides a haven for beneficial bacteria and maintains the layer of protective mucus that lines the inner walls.
  • This healthy "inner landscape" seems to prevent the immune system from overreacting and causing inflammation in diverticula.

2. Snack on fruit instead of chips

  • Eating french fries, cookies or a small bag of chips five or six times a week can raise the risk of diverticular disease by as much as 69 percent.
  • By contrast, those who snack regularly on peaches, blueberries, apricots, apples or oranges can lower their risk by as much as 80 percent.
  • Avoid any fruits that give you diarrhea.

3. Opt for chicken or fish instead of red meat

  • Greek researchers have found that a diet loaded with red meat can raise your odds for diverticulitis by 50 times higher than a vegetarian diet can.
  • Eating even a medium (115 to 170 gram/four to six ounce) serving of beef, pork or lamb five or six nights a week can triple the risk of diverticular disease.
  • Having a weekly hot dog can raise the odds by 86 percent. A serving of processed meat, such as lunchmeat or ham, five or six times a week can double the risk.

4. Consume more good fats

  • Getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flaxseed (which also acts as a laxative) and flaxseed oil, walnuts or fish-oil capsules may lower levels of inflammation in your colon.
  • Taking one gram of fish oil once or twice a day could help, say digestive disease experts from the University of Maryland.
  • Check with your doctor before starting fish-oil supplements.

5. Add a probiotic

  • Diverticular disease can decimate beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • "Good" bacteria, available in supplements known as probiotics, can speed up bowel movements, protect the lining of intestinal walls and reduce inflammation.
  • Studies are beginning to suggest that bolstering their levels may cut the risk of repeat attacks of diverticulitis.
  • Look for Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, Saccharomyces boulardii, and bifidobacteria. Many probiotic products include a combination of these.

Increased intestinal wall tension from hard stools can make tiny sections of the wall bulge outward. These bulges can get  infected or inflamed, and you could develop diverticulitis. But if you eat a better diet, your chances of getting this painful disease could go down.

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