Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis occurs when pockets called diverticula form in the walls of the intestines, most commonly in the colon (the large intestine). This often is present without symptoms but is fairly common and is seen in approximately 40% of colonoscopies.


The thinking behind how diverticular disease develops has changed. Currently is appears to be multifactorial and involves a possible combination of the following:

  • Smoking
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • BMI, Waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio
  • Low physical activity
  • Chronic use of NSAIDs
  • A weak colonic wall structure
  • Slow colonic motility
  • Genetics
  • Low fibre intake
  • High red meat intake

A combination of a weakened bowel wall plus straining due to hard to pass stools results in bulges or protrusions. These bulges are the diverticula. As with all digestive conditions there is a crossover in the symptoms of bloating, altered bowel movements and pains. However, if the diverticula become infected and diverticulitis (inflamed diverticular) additional symptoms can present themselves.


  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in stool
  • Constant and severe stomach pain

Treating Diverticulitis with Dietary Support

Dietary support is based around 3 fundamental area.

  1. Encouraging regular and easy to pass bowel movements.
  2. Supporting the intestinal lining
  3. Reducing inflammation

It was initially believed that corn, nuts and seeds should be avoided in diverticula disease as there was concern fragments would become lodges in the bulges. This has now been revised as high fibre foods (which includes corn, nuts and seeds) are generally encouraged as they can make it easier to go to the toilet. I must reinforce that there is not a one size fits all approach to these conditions and if you know that certain food make you feel worse removing it for a period of time may be of benefit. The benefit of working with an experienced practitioner is that they can help to guide you through this maze.

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