Expert Q&A

Diverticulosis: Which Foods to Avoid?

What foods should I avoid if I have diverticulosis?

-Lisa from Ohio

Diverticulosis commonly occurs in the large intestine of people over 50 years of age and usually does not cause problems for people. It can happen because of an increase in pressure in the intestines either from:

  • Colon spasms
  • Chronic constipation.

Small pockets form in the intestines, usually where the muscles are weak. Diverticulitis occurs when these pockets become infected. This infection happens when stool gets caught in these pockets and usually clears up quickly with a soft, bland diet and antibiotics.

Until very recently, common medical advice for people with diverticulitis was to avoid nuts, popcorn, and foods with any seeds. The worry was that these foods could get caught in the pockets and cause infections. In recent years, it has become clear that these foods do not cause an increased risk of infection or diverticulosis. We now know that it is important to:

Dietary fiber is especially important for people with diverticulosis. Insoluble fiber increases the bulk of the stool and stimulates the bowel to move normally. Sources of insoluble fiber include oat bran and wheat bran. Soluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables. Both types of fiber help to keep the bacteria healthy in the intestines and assist in eliminating toxins. Eating a high-fiber diet with nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables keeps the bowels moving and healthy. Drinking plenty of water and adding a fiber supplement, such as ground flax seeds, can resolve constipation if it occurs.

For further information on the symptoms, diet and treatments of diverticulosis see the following articles from TheDietChannel: Diverticulosis, Dverticulitis & Diet and Dealing with Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.

Wendy Hodsdon, ND
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!