• Amarildo Prendi

Stop Eating these Foods to Prevent the Risk of Diverticulitis

If you have even the slightest working knowledge of diverticulitis, you've probably heard the "recommendation" to steer clear of any of the following: nuts, seeds, popcorn, corn—basically anything that seems difficult to fully digest, for fear that it will agitate the condition.

Turns out, that's faulty advice. There's no evidence that these foods increase the risk, in accordance to the Cleveland Clinic—in fact, it at once contradicts advice doctors give their patients to prevent the condition in the first place (to consume a healthy, high-fiber diet).

There are, however, a few foods you may also want to limit in your diet, either while you are enduring a diverticulitis flare or to avoid one in the future. Here's what we know about the dietary tweaks that may also be helpful.

What foods should you limit to decrease your risk of a diverticulitis flare-up?

To avoid a recurrence (or possibly stave off an initial bout) of diverticulitis, doctors and dietitians recommend a healthy, fiber-rich diet. It does not particularly matter which dietary pattern you follow, as long as it includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and different plant-based foods.

"We encourage our patients to focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that they should be eating," Dr, Warren says. As for foods to eat less of, experts and studies suggest that people limit their intake of:

  1. Red meat (beef, pork, or lamb)

  2. High-fat dairy (whole milk, cream, ice cream, etc.)

  3. Refined grains (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.)

The evidence is strongest for red meat consumption. One 2018 study posted in the journal Gut, involved the health and diet information from roughly 46,000 men over 26 years. The guys who consumed the most red meat per week (especially unprocessed red meat like steak) had a 58% greater risk of developing diverticulitis compared to those eating the least amount each week. The study does not prove the consuming red meat causes diverticulitis, but it does show an association. A person's risk of diverticulitis rose 18% per serving of red meat consumed per day.

Another large study, in Gastroenterology, examined universal dietary patterns, rather than individual foods. A typical Western diet (think: red meat, refined grains, high-fat dairy) was associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis, while something called a "prudent pattern" was tied to a decreased risk.

"The prudent pattern, which is high in fruits and vegetables, low in meat, low in processed foods, low in sweets, low in fat, is beneficial," Lisa Strate, MD, the study's lead author and professor of medicinal drug at the University of Washington in Seattle, tells H&H.

On a food-specific basis, Dr. Strate and colleagues concluded that the link between dietary pattern and diverticulitis is primarily due to fiber and red meat intake.

The take home message? It can also not be a single food, necessarily, that makes or breaks your risk of diverticulitis. As the authors of a recent systematic review in the journal Nutrients point out, "attention must be focused on the entirety of dietary pattern."

Originally published: Health.com

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