If you have ever experienced the pain of diverticulitis you will understand just how debilitating it can be, as the main symptom of diverticulitis is a constant and severe pain that usually starts below your belly button, before moving to the lower left-hand side of your abdomen.
Besides severe stomach pain, other symptoms of an attack of diverticulitis may include:
a high temperature
a frequent need to urinate
pain when you urinate
bleeding from your rectum
If you are having an attack of diverticulitis your first port of call should be to your GP as you may need a course of antibiotics. However, by following my tips below along with your prescribed medication you will give yourself the best chance of a speedy recovery and less chance of a reoccurrence.
So, what is Diverticulitis and what Causes it?
Diverticulitis is an inflammatory bowel condition where the lining of the colon develops pouches, sacs or bulges. They most often occur in the lower area of the colon and can become painful and inflamed. When these pouches are under pressure, like when you’re constipated for example, or if you eat a food that irritates your gut, tiny tears and areas of inflammation can occur in the intestinal lining within the pouches. It is these little tears and reactions to the food you shouldn’t eat that become infected and inflamed, therefore resulting in diverticulitis.
The root cause of diverticulitis stem from the following:
· A low-fibre diet (less than 30g per day)
· An imbalance in intestinal flora
· Food sensitivities and intolerances
· Lack of exercise
A diet high in red meat and fat and low in fibre.
Certain medications including the use of NSAIDs.
Obesity – losing some weight with a healthy diet will have positive benefits.
How to Treat Diverticulitis Naturally
Take a close look at your Diet
It is no surprise that eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables has the most protective effect against diverticulitis.
Staying properly hydrated is also key in preventing constipation so make sure to drink enough water daily aim for a minimum of 2 litres.
1. Up your fibre intake to 20-30 grams per day
To treat and prevent diverticulitis, it is recommended to consume a high-fibre diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains – preferably grains like quinoa and well-cooked brown rice.
It’s also important to get both soluble and insoluble fibre into your diet.
Soluble fibre retains water and gels up during the digestive process which helps slow digestion and allows for the better absorption of nutrients from our food.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools and helps food and waste move smoothly through the digestive tract.
Foods high in soluble fibre include nuts, seeds (like flax and chia), beans, lentils, peas, and barley.
Foods high in insoluble fibre include whole grains and vegetables.
It is insoluble fibre that lowers the risk for diverticulitis, so make sure to eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetable daily.
2. Eat more probiotic-rich foods
Eating fermented foods like kefir, bio-yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha are also great ways to establish diverse intestinal flora naturally.
These good bacteria help negate food sensitivities and can even help prevent constipation, gas, and bloating which is important for keeping the walls of the colon free of inflammation.
3. Avoid inflammatory foods and drink
Cutting processed low-fibre foods from your diet is key to keeping inflammation out of the body. Other foods like dairy products, gluten, and red meat are known to increase inflammation within the gut and should either be avoided or consumed infrequently in small quantities.
Other foods to avoid with diverticulitis include any food allergies or intolerances you have as this flare’s inflammation in the gut. This is where keeping a food and symptom diary comes in handy.
if you have diverticulitis, you would be better off avoiding it as much as possible as it’s highly inflammatory.
The Diverticulitis Diet for Flare Ups
When a sudden flare up happens, it’s crucial to get the inflammation and infection in the gut under control.
As soon as you feel symptoms, you need to begin a liquid-only diet to help flush out the diverticula so that they can heal.
Drinking bone broths that are rich in natural gelatine is extremely healing for the gut lining, most especially if made at home.
You can make very simple yet tasty soups by simmering some fresh vegetables and a few chicken legs to create a wholesome broth filled with vital nutrients that are easy to digest.
Strain the broth and drink it three or more times per day for 2-3 days. Fresh ginger can also help settle the gut and reduce inflammation in the bowels. To use it, either simmer it in homemade broth or make a strong tea. Drink three times daily.
Once symptoms have eased, you can begin to slowly incorporate easily digestible foods like steamed vegetables and pureed fruits.
It super important to chew your food very well during this time to make digestion as easy as possible. Failing to do so may result in another flare during the healing process.
You can also consume fruit and or vegetable juices with some of the pulp.
Once you feel more like yourself, you can then incorporate fibre-rich foods like brown rice, whole fruits and vegetables.
This is the last stage where you can begin to eat more fibrous foods like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other root vegetables. You can also begin to experiment with other grains
Continue to document the foods you eat, when you ate them, and how you felt after.
Once you feel normal again without any symptoms, you can go ahead and slowly reincorporate regular foods back into your diet but pay close attention to how you’re feeling when you eat those foods.
The above diet is for if you are having a flare up of diverticulitis only.