Diverticular Disease


Adhering to a high-fiber diet is one key to keeping diverticular disease at bay( — . According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may help you manage this digestion disorder:

What You Need To Know:

  • Recognize the warning signs
    Seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms such as painful abdominal cramping, fever, and nausea
  • Diet right
    Help prevent the disease by eating a high-vegetable, high-fiber, and low-meat diet
  • Get moving
    Start a regular program of physical activity, such as jogging, to help prevent symptomatic diverticular disease

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full diverticular disease article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.

Dietary changes that may be helpful

Dietary factors influence the frequency and severity of diverticular disease recurrences. A diet high in fiber has been shown to be protective against diverticular disease. One study of food intake revealed a 50% increase in incidence of diverticular disease in people eating a diet high in meat and low in vegetables relative to those eating a high-vegetable and low-meat diet. In addition to helping prevent the disease, a high-fiber diet may also be useful as a treatment for diverticular disease.

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful

Obesity may be associated with increased severity of diverticular disease. Studies have yet to be conducted to determine if weight loss decreases signs and symptoms of diverticular disease in patients who are overweight.

Physical activity, specifically jogging or running, has been reported to protect against symptomatic diverticular disease. While the reason for its positive effect is not known, exercise is associated with reduced symptoms of a variety of other diseases of the colon.

Other therapies

For mild conditions, healthcare practitioners typically recommend adequate fluid intake and a high-fiber diet. Some severe cases might require a liquid diet or surgical removal of the affected portion of the colon. Giant diverticula always require surgery.

Vitamins that may be helpful

In people with diverticular disease, a fiber supplement may improve constipation. The results of double-blind of fiber supplementation for diverticular disease have been mixed. One study demonstrated a beneficial effect of fiber supplementation in people who suffered from abdominal pain and pain with bowel movements; whereas a second study indicated no improvement in these symptoms following fiber supplementation. Nevertheless, long-term fiber supplementation may protect against the complications of diverticular disease.

Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber that is derived from konjac root (Amorphophallus konjac). A preliminary clinical trial found that approximately one-third to one half of people with diverticular disease had reduced symptoms of diverticular disease after taking glucommanan. The amount of glucomannan shown to be effective as a laxative is 3–4 grams per day.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful

A preliminary trial of the herb psyllium supports the use of this type of fiber in relieving the symptoms associated with diverticular disease and constipation.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.



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New Food Label: Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Cholesterol

REading food labels

Read Food Labels

Q: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring that, by January 2006, food labels list the amount of trans fat together with saturated fat and cholesterol. What is trans fat?

A: Trans fat is a type of fat that is formed when vegetable oil is hardened through a process called hydrogenation. This process helps makes foods more solid, gives them shape, and prolongs their shelf life.

Q: What do saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in foods have to do with heart disease?

A: Saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in the diet all raise the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in the blood. The higher the LDL cholesterol, the greater the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), the main form of heart disease and a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States. Saturated fat and trans fat raise LDL similarly, but Americans consume 4-5 times as much saturated fat as trans fat. Saturated fat is the chief dietary culprit that raises LDL, but consumers need to know about all 3 – saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol – in the foods they eat to reduce their risk for CHD and stay heart-healthy.

Q: What foods contain saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol?

A: High amounts of saturated fat are found in animal products, such as fatty cuts of meat, chicken skin, and full-fat dairy products like butter, whole milk, cream, and cheese, and in tropical vegetable oils such as palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil. Trans fat is found in some of the same foods as saturated fat, such as vegetable shortening, some margarines (especially hard or stick margarine), crackers, cookies, baked goods, fried foods, salad dressings, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Small amounts of trans fat also occur naturally in some animal products, such as milk products, beef, and lamb. Foods high in cholesterol include liver, other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and full-fat dairy products.

Q: How will the nutrition label on foods be different?

A: The FDA’s rule requires that the amount of trans fat be listed on a separate line under saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts panel of the food label. The new label will enable consumers to know the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in a serving of the food they eat.

Q: How can I use the new food label to make heart-healthy food choices?

A: Check the Nutrition Facts panel of the food label. Choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. For saturated fat and cholesterol, you can also use the Percent Daily Value (%DV): 5% DV or less is low, and 20% DV or more is high. (There is no %DV for trans fat.) Some food products may not show the amount of trans fat until 2006, when the FDA rule will go into full effect. Use the Nutrition Facts panel to choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and if the trans fat is not listed, read the ingredients and limit products that list shortening or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which tend to be high in trans fat.

Q: Is it better to eat butter instead of margarine to avoid trans fat?

A: No. The combined amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in butter is usually higher than in margarine, even though some margarines contain more trans fat than butter. There are margarines available that contain no trans fat. Soft (tub) or liquid margarine usually contains less trans fat than hard (stick) margarine and less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter.