Posted on February 9, 2023 by Austin Lang
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Posted on February 9, 2023 by Austin Lang
That’s why following a great diet plan is essential for prevention and recovery. Still, things can be a bit counterintuitive. Do you want more fiber or less fiber? Should you avoid nuts and popcorn or not? What even is diverticulitis? We’ve got answers to all of these questions and more in this edition of the Medicare Diet.
Have you ever seen a bike tire that was about to fail? It usually has a bulge somewhere along the otherwise perfectly circular tubing. This bulge represents the weakest part of the tire, where the rubber is the thinnest. Because pressure naturally wants to equalize, air in the tire will stretch out the weakened area as much as it can, leading to a bulge.
It’s a bit gruesome, but our large intestines can experience a similar problem, forming bulges or pouches called diverticuli. Thankfully, these diverticuli are small and usually harmless, but they can get infected. The presence of diverticula is called diverticulosis, while the infection of diverticula is called diverticulitis, -itis referring to any inflammatory disease. In turn, this may result in bloating, inflammatory bowel disease, and other diverticulitis symptoms.
Diverticulosis is most common in adults age 40 and older, and your risk factors increase based on your diet and activity levels. When you have a diverticulitis attack, you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or other forms of gastrointestinal distress. Thankfully, these attacks can be identified with a colonoscopy and treated with antibiotics, but colonoscopy and antibiotic treatments are typically not fun.
If you’re actively having an attack, your first priority should be recovering. This means giving your intestines time to rest. Your doctor will advise you on a diverticulitis diet plan, but you’ll probably be told to follow a clear liquid diet. The best foods for diverticulitis include things like broth, juice, ice pops, and gelatin. It isn’t the most fun diet plan, but you only need to follow it for a few days. Here are some key tips to consider while you recover.
If you’re recovering from an attack, simmering broth for hours is probably the last thing you want to do. In that case, consider keeping a soup base like Better Than Boullion on hand to quickly add to hot water. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, shiitake dashi is an easy and wholesome way to make a savory broth. Skip the miso for now, though.
While fiber is usually key to a healthy colon, a professional dietitian may actually suggest you avoid it while recovering. Fiber foods bulk up stool, which can make it more difficult for our intestines to handle. Instead, we want to stick to a low fiber diet and meal plan for a few days.
You may have heard of the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet. This meal plan is designed for people recovering from gastrointestinal illness and is a cheap way to stay fed while recovering. However, it’s not exactly exciting. Fortunately, we aren’t just limited to those options, and we can make the options we do have more exciting.
If you made shiitake dashi earlier, it’s very easy to convert it into miso soup. Warm the broth, add tofu, and then slowly mix in miso paste (available at most Asian markets). It’s much tastier than what you can get in a pouch, though you should avoid adding seaweed (nori) until you can handle more fiber.
Another option, this time originating in China, is congee. It’s a simple porridge made by cooking starchy rice until it has an oatmeal-like consistency. This dish is often cooked in soup stock and served with meat or other toppings, but you can make it with water for a lighter dish. At this stage, you should be able to eat lighter meats like chicken and fish, so feel free to experiment.
Avoid red meat, beans, and any food high in spice, as they can irritate your colon and slow recovery.
Once symptoms have abated, you’ll want to begin incorporating more fiber intake into your diet. This will help stool pass more easily, reducing the chance of things getting caught in the diverticula and causing an infection. This means things like beans, whole grains, avocados, and fruits with skin.
You may have seen advice telling you to avoid nuts and popcorn. The reasoning behind this is that nuts and seeds can get caught in the diverticula, but recent studies have shown this isn’t actually the case. These foods are actually high in fiber and can help prevent future flare-ups.
If you’re looking for more high-fiber recipes, Mayo Clinic offers a list of high-fiber recipes on its website. To learn more about proper diets for other health topics, be sure to check out the rest of our Medicare Diet series right here on MedicareInsurance.com!
Depending on where you live, a Medicare Advantage plan can help you pay for groceries, including ingredients for recipes like the ones linked here. Call one of our licensed agents at (800) 950-0608 or enter your zip code into our free comparison tool to begin your search.
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Austin is dedicated to breaking down complex topics, like Medicare, in a way that's easy to understand. He graduated with an M.A. from Florida Atlantic University in 2018.