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Should Patients With Diverticulitis Avoid or Up Their Fiber?

Q: Should patients with diverticulitis avoid or up their fiber?

A: It’s easy to understand why you’re confused. When it comes to fiber and diverticulitis, you’ll find many different answers online.

But the reality is that the Western world’s low-fiber diet likely contributes to how common diverticulitis is here.

Here’s why: When the colon has less fiber, the stool has less volume. This means the muscle in the colon has to squeeze harder and do less work. The thought process is that those higher pressures lead to the development of diverticular disease. It’s basically like “blow outs” from the side wall of the colon.

The best way to manage diverticular disease — whether you’ve had had an attack of diverticulitis or not — is to follow a high-fiber diet. Aim for 20 to 25 grams of fiber and six to eight glasses of water every day.

It’s important to note: There are some old wives’ tales about avoiding nuts, strawberry seeds and other foods, but those are just myths. A high-fiber diet is your best bet.

— Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute Chairman Conor Delaney, MD, PhD