In recent years there have been changes to the dietary advice given on diagnosis of diverticular disease. So, in this blog I will be outlining the condition and the new advice about what the changes are for people to prevent infection and help with symptoms.
Diverticula are small pouches in the wall of the colon. Diverticulosis is when the muscular wall of the lower colon weakens and pockets (diverticula) form in the wall of the colon.
They are extremely common with 2 out of 3 people developing diverticula especially after the age of 40 and over. In people with diverticula, they may not suffer any symptoms. However, in some, diverticula can cause symptoms such as lower abdominal pain, bloating, change in bowel habit (constipation or diarrhoea) and mucus or blood in the stool – this is known as diverticular disease.
What causes diverticula to develop?
Although it’s thought that a westernised diet low in dietary fibre causes diverticula, evidence is conflicting. This is because lifestyle factors also influence results so it is more difficult to tease apart cause and effect.
Contrary to previous advice, it is now recommended that patients eat a healthy balanced diet including wholegrains, fruit and vegetables. There is no need to avoids seeds, nuts, popcorn or fruit skins.
How can dietary modification help?
With help from a specialist dietitian, further dietary modification towards a healthy balanced diet can help to minimise symptoms. For some, having a prior diagnosis of IBS, then getting advice on diet to improve IBS symptoms is also appropriate.
Diverticulitis is diagnosed when there is an infection within one or more of the diverticula. The symptoms of diverticulitis including worsening abdominal pain, high temperature, feeling sick or being sick. If any of these symptoms are experienced, medical advice should be sought immediately. Complicated diverticulitis requiring hospitalisation may be treated with antibiotics and fluids.