Low FODMAP diet and diverticulitis

It’s well-known that the low FODMAP diet can help relieve symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, this special diet may be more versatile than ever imagined. This is because recent studies show that the low FODMAP diet may be helpful for those with another gastrointestinal condition known as diverticulitis. Let’s learn a little more about this condition and how the low FODMAP diet may help those suffering from diverticulitis symptoms.

What is diverticulitis?

Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that are found mostly in the lower part of the large intestine.  They are caused when weak areas of your intestine give way under pressure. These bulges are common after age 40, and mostly don’t cause any health issues.

However, when these bulges tear and become inflamed and infected, problems can arise.  This inflammatory condition, known as diverticulitis, can cause symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, nausea, and constipation (diarrhea in some cases).

If you experience a severe case of diverticulitis symptoms, then you may need surgery. However, if a physician informs you that your case of diverticulitis is mild, then a treatment of antibiotics, rest, and a change in diet could help you feel better. Such a diet includes the low FODMAP diet.

About the low FODMAP diet

A low FODMAP diet eliminates foods that contain:

  • Fermentable foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha
  • Oligosaccharides such as beans, peas, lentils, onions, and garlic.
  • Disaccharides such as lactose-containing foods like milk, cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, pudding, and any milk-containing products such as certain soups, dressings, and sauces.
  • Monosaccharides such as honey and foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
  • Polyols such as apples, plums, pears, peaches, watermelon, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas, and sugar alcohols, to name a few.

This diet is typically used by those hoping to lessen symptoms of digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Typically, the elimination phase of the diet would be followed strictly for two to eight weeks. After that time, foods would slowly be added in to help identify which are the major trigger foods.  This process should be supervised by a qualified healthcare practitioner such as a registered dietitian familiar with the low FODMAP diet, to help ensure a safe transition from the elimination diet.

When you follow a low FODMAP diet, it’s important to have your pantry and refrigerator clear of trigger foods. Therefore, use this shopping list from Casa de Sante to ensure you have all of the low FODMAP food and drink staples on hand.

Diverticulitis and the low FODMAP diet

A 2016 report looked at the potential that the low FODMAP diet could help those with diverticulitis. The theory presented is that since increased pressure in the colon can lead to the development of diverticulum, and since the low FODMAP diet can help reduce gas and bloating, then the low FODMAP diet could help reduce and/or prevent the formation of diverticulum.

The low FODMAP diet is recommended to be much more suitable to help those with diverticulitis rather than a typically recommended high fiber and high FODMAP diet that could bring about significant amounts of gas and fluids in the colon due to fermentation. In turn, this could trigger the formation of diverticula.

Take home message

The low FODMAP diet is more than just a nutrition therapy for those with IBS. For those suffering with the inflammatory digestive condition diverticulitis, limiting FODMAPs can be a saving grace from painful symptoms. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis or know someone who has, then visit the Casa de Sante website today to receive more information, resources, and recipes so the low FODMAP diet can improve your quality of life today.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com

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