Preventing diverticulitis attacks
If you’re age 60 or older, there’s a 60 percent or greater chance that you have diverticular disease (diverticulosis). This means that small pouches (diverticula) have developed along the walls of your large intestine (colon).
For most people, diverticula never cause a problem. You may only learn of the disease as a result of a colon exam done for another reason. However, up to about 15 percent of those with diverticula experience a painful attack caused by inflammation or infection of a diverticular pouch (diverticulitis). A similar percentage of people may experience nonpainful rectal bleeding.
It’s generally felt that lifestyle improvements can reduce the risk of a first or a recurrent diverticulitis attack. Steps include:
- Gradually adopting a high-fiber diet — In one study, a high-fiber diet resulted in about a 40 percent decreased risk of diverticulitis attacks compared with a low-fiber diet. It’s recommended that men older than 50 get 30 grams of fiber daily and women older than 50 get 21 grams of fiber daily. This can be done by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, beans and legumes. Seeds, nuts or popcorn can also add fiber — and importantly, there’s no evidence that these increase diverticulitis risk, as was once commonly believed. A fiber supplement such as methylcellulose (Citrucel, others) or psyllium (Metamucil) may also be used to boost your fiber intake.
- Exercising regularly — Vigorous exercise such as jogging or running appears to reduce the risk of diverticulitis.
- Maintaining a healthy weight — In one study, obesity was associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of diverticulitis attacks, particularly in those who carry more of that extra weight in the abdominal area.
Digestive issues are common, and you can learn from others who are dealing with the same digestive health questions that you have at the Digestive Health group.
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Thank you for this
Mayo online was my go-to for more information ff my 1st miserable diverticulitis diagnosis this past October. After following my pcp's prescribed protocol, I had another lesser episode because I'd reintroduced some raw veggies too soon into my diet. I charted my daily meals for weeks and was very slow after the second bout to reintroduce new foods back into my diet.
Thanks for this Mayo newsletter article. It is an inexpressible comfort to have access to Mayo online and Connect for trusted health information and a place to share with others who are walking a similar path. Would like to add that by gradually adding more fiber and starting a walking program, I've not had another bout of diverticulitis. Yay!
Lovely to hear, fiesty76! I've had pretty much the same experience, with a nasty first-time attack of diverticulitis three years ago, with hospitalization and – equally nasty – antibiotics. Changing diet really helped, and I also make bone broth and consume it regularly. Apparently the collagen helps to soothe the intestines. Never had another attack, fingers crossed for all sufferers!
I have been diagnosed by 3 different doctors over my lifetime (77) of Gastritis, Diverticulitis and most recently_IBS. Each one has different diets. The IBS was diagnosed by phone by my Gastro. doctor. In the meantime, I discontinued my Letrozole (per Oncoligist) 5 yrs. out from Mastectomy. My gut is awful right now. My Onco. put me on a soft diet. That means very little fiber. Suggestions?
I was just diagnosed with diverticulitis. They think that is where my pain and swelling are comming from. I was diagnosed with IBS years ago, but It just kept getting worse. I am trying to figure out where to start. What is a good diet for the holidays? does anyone have any ideas? Most menu show a high fiber diet with most foods my body can not handle.
First. Do. You have diverticulosis or diverticulitis? The first is the existence of diverticula, the second diverticulitis is the infection of the diverticula. And can be diagnosed by blood tests & then take antibiotics.
I take Metamucil per my Drs direct but I avoid all nuts & seeds of all kinds. Amazing how many things have all tha “good fiber”. Especially granola which I love. But I’ve become a label reader.
If I get some minor pain in lower left side I start taking Tylenol& use heat. If it doesn’t go away soon or if a fever starts I go to the Doctor.
The antibiotics are tough ones, so I avoid if possible.
I had my first attack in Sept. of 2019. It was bad. I was doing too much caffeine and alcohol, overweight, not walking, too much red meat, etc..poster child for a "attack"! Since then I have dropped 35 pounds, workout for 45 minutes each day, Mediterranean diet, stopped alcohol and caffeine, feeling much better. Now the bad news….so a few days ago (3/20/23) in the middle of the night, out of the blue, I get another attack. Not as bad as the first one….but absolutely an attack. I have never read that stress is a factor but that's all I could think of that would cause it. I am doing the "Diver" diet right now of clear fluids for 3 days, then the "white" foods with no fiber….thought I had it in the rear-view mirror. I am 70 and have "dense" diver, so that's all a factor I would assume. I guess just aging is probably a "cause" in itself?