top of page

What Is Diverticulitis And What You Need To Know

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

What Is Diverticulitis? The Basics:

What is the difference between Diverticulitis/Diverticulosis? The first thing to know is that Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs when small pouches/sac-like pockets form in the intestine and push outward through weak spots in the colon's wall. Basically, Diverticulosis is the "condition"/disease that you have.

When symptoms arise, such as cramping, dark stools/bleeding, fever, inflammation, abdominal pain, and many other symptoms, doctors refer to this condition as diverticular disease, commonly referred to as Diverticulitis. Basically, Diverticulitis is the infection/problem/"flare-up" arising from your Diverticulosis.

We will go over all this in more detail below, along with tips for diet and supplements that have helped me and others. At the time of this post, I have been living with Diverticulosis for over 20 years (diagnosed). Please know we are not providing medical advice; we are simply gathering the latest relevant public data and sharing personal experiences. I found it very challenging to get info when I was first diagnosed. I would get conflicting info from different doctors; eat nuts... don't eat nuts, same with other foods.

We wanted to help others and start conversations about a disease affecting millions of people. It is estimated that more than 35% of U.S. adults between the ages of 47 and 59 and more than 73% of those older than age 80 have diverticulosis. According to last year's reports, over 210,000 people were hospitalized for Diverticulitis in the US alone. Yet there seems to be insufficient research in this field, and concise information is hard to come by.

**Make sure to check out very helpful/informative links at the bottom of this page**

What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticula are small pouches that bulge outward, usually through the colon or large intestine. It creates a "pocket" on the inside of your colon; If you have these "pouches"/pockets, you have a condition called diverticulosis. The older you get, the more likely you will develop this condition. More than half of all people over age 60 have it. Most people living with diverticulosis don't know they have it and don't present any symptoms. Symptoms of Diverticulosis for most people are minor; mild cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Diverticulosis is usually discovered through other routine tests for something else, like a colonoscopy/screen for cancer.

What Causes Diverticulosis/How Did I Get It?

Doctors believe the main cause is a low-fiber diet and an overabundance of processed food. Interesting fact: Diverticulosis is very uncommon in regions of the world where diets are high in fiber and rich in grains, fruits, and vegetables. A low-fiber diet contributes to constipation, which increases pressure within the digestive tract while straining during bowel movements. This pressure, stretching the intestine and straining over many years, is thought to cause/contribute to developing diverticulosis. Other related causes are obesity, diets high in bad fats, too much red meat, opioids, steroids, weak stomach muscles, and NSAIDs/ibuprofen/naproxen. Once diverticula/"pockets" form, they do not go away.

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis occurs when one or more Diverticula become infected in the areas of your colon/intestine that have Diverticulosis. Diverticulitis can come on suddenly and may lead to serious complications. You should contact a doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms below. FYI, a CT scan is usually done to confirm/identify Diverticulitis.

It is VERY important to see a doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms, it could mean you have a hole/perforation.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

  • Abdominal pain that gets worse fast; Pain that may or not be constant and persists for more than a couple of days. The lower left side of the abdomen is where most feel pain. However, the pain can sometimes be in the right side of the abdomen. This sometimes feels almost like an internal (bad) bruise in your abdomen when you jiggle or go over a bump in a car. You shouldn't be able to feel your colon.

  • Fever

  • Drastic changes to normal stool, very dark stool/black stool, has a metallic smell, or blood in your stool.

  • Nausea and/or Vomiting

  • If you have sharp and/or constant pain with a fever, you should see a gastro or go to the hospital ASAP!

Suggested Diet While Experiencing Diverticulitis Symptoms/Infection

During "flare-ups" of diverticulitis, most doctors recommend a clear liquid diet. A clear liquid diet means no solid foods. Always check with your doctor, but doctors usually recommend things like the following while on antibiotics/until pain goes away:

  • Beef/Chicken/Bone Broth, I highly recommend bone broth.

  • Clear juices such as apple juice; avoid orange juice/juices with the pulp.

  • Jell-O

  • Popsicles

See what food your doctor recommends while on antibiotics and directly after completing them. They will most likely suggest low-fiber foods while healing/getting over your infection; here are some examples:

  • Canned fruit, No seeds or skin!

  • Canned or cooked vegetables, No seeds or skin!

  • Yogurt, there is vegan yogurt if your digestive system has issues with lactose

  • Eggs

  • Low-fiber cereal

  • Tender chicken (not overcooked), ground or shredded. No oils/fat/grease. Meat is not recommended until pain is gone.

  • Bread, no grains/seeds

  • Crackers: Saltines/oyster, NOT fatty crackers like Ritzs or Club

Diverticulosis - Everyday Suggested Diet and Supplements

  • The below suggestions are NOT recommended when experiencing a flare-up/Diverticulitis! These are suggested for everyday life to avoid flare-ups!

  • First, avoid holding your poop!!!! If you need to go, then go!! I have found that going number two upon feeling the urge helps alleviate cramps and reduces my symptoms. It makes sense; after all, stretching/pressure/constipation is what doctors think is the main cause of this affliction. Nobody likes public restrooms, but your intestines will thank you for not backing them up!

  • A high-fiber diet is recommended. While it is recommended that we consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily, most people only get about half that amount. The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Ask your doctor; they may recommend a supplemental fiber product such as psyllium, methylcellulose, or polycarbophil.

  • Avoid too much cheese and meat, it is suggested to eliminate cheese entirely. Limit red meat and try to eat chicken or seafood/fish instead. I know, not what you want to hear, I love cheese and red meat myself! Unfortunately, it is highly likely this contributed to DV due to causing constipation.

  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet!

  • Fiber supplements come in many forms, including pills, powders, gummies, and more. Supplemental fiber products help to bulk up and soften stool, which makes bowel movements easier to pass. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help relax spasms in the colon that cause abdominal cramping or discomfort. I have found that probiotics help better than anything; more info on probiotics is below.

Basically, you need to keep a healthy gut biome and eat some foods rich in fiber. I have found that taking probiotics has helped alleviate, if not eliminate my cramping; I believe the probiotics also have dramatically reduced the frequency of infections/major symptoms that require medical treatment/antibiotics. It can be challenging to eat healthily; let's face it, we all want to eat healthily... but it's hard!

Over the years of living with Diverticulosis, I learned to add beans, fruits, and veggies to my diet. I by no means eat as healthy as I should, but I made progress and started eating better foods, I could tell my intestines appreciated it. When my doctor suggested probiotics, it was a game-changer!!! Within months, along with improving my diet, I was pretty much symptom-free, probiotics changed my life! I have put some links below to probiotics I take and have taken. I am not a "homeopathic" kind of guy, but I am convinced these have done wonders for me. It's not instant, it took roughly 3-4 weeks on probiotics for my biome to get healthy/productive and my cramping to diminish. Here is a site that gives some good info on the gut microbiome, Very important for reducing flare-ups and infections.

  • Here is a fiber supplement I take regularly... well, one glass a few times a week/as needed. You can try gummies or capsules, but my gastroenterologist suggests the good ol' powder, and I agree. I use the real sugar one, there is also a sugar-free one. I have a link below to both below. This, along with the probiotics, has dramatically reduced my symptoms and changed my life for years now.

  • Sugar-Free One

What Should You NOT Eat?

LOL, Well... This depends on which doctor/gastro you are talking to! But don't worry, I will try to help you with this one! Some links at the bottom of this section will provide additional information. I've had a few gastro doctors over the years, and some say you can eat seeds and nuts... And some have said not to eat these items or anything that you see when defecating, like corn. Some of my doctors believed these items could get stuck in the pockets and cause infection/Diverticulitis.

I didn't eat nuts or anything with seeds for years, and I love cashews and pistachios... anyway, I still got infections... often. There was a time when I would have up to four cases of diverticulitis per year. That is when I started pursuing the truth... or the myth...? I wanted to know the truth, aka facts, but unfortunately, the info wasn't easy to come by then, 20 years ago. FYI, I Have one major thing to share; if you're a drinker, you might not like this. When one of my gastro doctors convinced me to quit drinking liquor, it helped reduce cramping, symptoms, and infections. About eight years ago, I really changed my habits and started taking fiber and probiotics. The past eight years of my life have been great compared to the previous 12 years with Diverticulosis. Here are some links that will give you more info on currently recommended diets by doctors/gastro's.

Probiotics, What They Do And How They Can Help!

Probiotics have changed my life! I am an average guy, I have never been a big believer in supplements until I tried probiotics. I started using prebiotics and eating more greek yogurt, now I very rarely experience any symptoms/infections associated with my Diverticulosis.

The link below will provide a lot of good information on probiotics and prebiotics. You should always ask your doctor before taking any medications or supplements!

Recommended Probiotics

I personally take Align, the first one/pic listed below; my doctor recommended it by name. You might need to talk to your doctor and try different probiotics before finding the right one! I would definitely start with this one and see how your colon feels in about 30-45 days. I highly suggest you try the Align traditional capsules listed first. I have put some links for other highly regarded probiotics to try.

If you don't have Amazon Prime, Click the banner here to get Prime/quick free delivery, Its free for 30 days!

This is the traditional capsule I take once a day, helps keep my colon happy! This is a great deal on a 2-month supply!

This one is great for good gut health overall.

Pearls is a little round pill, very easy to take if you have problems swallowing pills!

Read below and check out the article link about inflammation. Here are some recommended supplements to keep inflammation down. After taking the first one listed below for 30 days, I noticed my body wasn't as stiff/better mobility. It also helped to reduce pain during flare-ups/infection.

If you don't already know, Magnesium citrate is a great option for people with constipation, most gastro's recommend as it has a "gentle" laxative effect. Magnesium citrate works by "pulling" water into the intestines. It makes your bowel movements softer and easier to pass.

Magnesium glycinate (also called magnesium bisglycinate) works with many neurotransmitters (chemicals in your brain), like GABA, to promote feelings of calm. Glycine can also improve sleep quality, promote a healthy circadian rhythm, improve blood sugar levels and help reduce overall inflammation in the body .

Recommended Books!

Inflammation plays a huge part in flare-ups. The first book below is one of the newest books helping us understand inflammation and how to combat it. The National Library of Medicine published an interesting article that sparked more research about inflammation and how it affects us. Check out the article here.

These two books are highly recommended, I have both, and they helped give me the knowledge to live a more normal life.

Additional Helpful Links

This post will be updated frequently to ensure we provide you with the latest info. We will also be posting new blogs. Please help support our efforts in bringing DV info to the masses!! We have some sponsored links on this page, which helps pay the bills to maintain/develop this site. We truly want to provide help and info to as many people as possible, and your support will assist us in doing so. Thank you in advance, and we hope our site helped you find the info you needed!

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn commissions at no additional cost to you by linking to Amazon/affiliate sites.

Check out other informative posts at Viva Gastro!

bottom of page