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What Are the Different Foods to Avoid with Diverticulosis?

Those with diverticulosis should avoid consuming fried foods.
A diagram showing diverticulosis and other colon conditions.
Popcorn can get stuck in the diverticula and cause pain.
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  • Written By: Laura Metz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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Diverticulosis is a medical condition in which small pockets known as diverticula develop within the colon. Anecdotal evidence recommends several foods to avoid with diverticulosis, but research has not proven that they cause problems. A patient with diverticulosis should keep a food diary to determine what foods he or she should avoid.

Many doctors recommend avoiding any foods that could get stuck in the diverticula. If food becomes caught in the diverticula it can irritate them, causing pain and an infection known as diverticulitis. Although many patients claim that they experience pain after eating certain small, hard foods, no scientific data has been found to prove this theory.

The foods that run a higher risk of entering the diverticula are nuts, seeds, and popcorn. Although some claim that even the small seeds in tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries can cause problems, most doctors say those are safe, especially if cooked. If any of these foods cause problems, they can be pureed in a food processor.

Fried and high fat foods are also considered foods to avoid with diverticulosis. These types of food take a long time to digest. This can cause bloating and increased pressure in the colon, which can cause pain and other complications, such as diverticulitis. Diverticula are weak areas of the colon, and therefore anything that causes extra pressure should be avoided.

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Some other foods to avoid with diverticulosis are low fiber foods such as white rice, pasta, and refined breads. Low fiber foods take extra time to go through the digestive process, causing increased pressure in the same way as fried foods. Diverticulosis patients should instead increase their fiber intake to help their colon process food easily.

Colonic stimulants, also called laxatives, can also cause problems for people with diverticulosis, whether they are in the form of foods or medicines. Laxatives can harm the colon and the diverticuli. They do not clean out the colon, and the digestive system can become dependent on them in order to operate.

Researchers have not proved that these foods cause problems, so many doctors recommend keeping a very detailed food diary to determine which foods are safe for each patient. To keep a food diary, a patient will need to write down what he or she eats at every meal as well as their medicines and bowel movements. By keeping track of what foods cause pain, a patient can determine what foods to avoid with diverticulosis.

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