Diverticular Disease

What is diverticular disease?

Diverticular disease involves inflammation and infection of the abnormal pouches that form on the intestine wall. The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) states that one-third of Australians over the age of 45 years have diverticular disease, whilst two-thirds over the age of 85 years have this condition. Thus, this condition is very common and many are unaware they have it. 

A low fibre intake is an important risk factor for developing diverticular disease. This is because constipation can arise with a low fibre diet, resulting in harder stools that require more pressure to push them along the intestine. It is this added pressure which can cause these pouches to develop.

Symptoms do vary in severity from a mild attack to hospitalisation and can include:

- Nausea/ vomiting
- Fever
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
- Frequent/urgency to go to the toilet
- Stomach pain including bloating
- Bloody stools
- Nutrient deficiencies e.g. iron deficiency

How Can I Help?
My fundamental goal will be to prevent and manage nutrient deficiencies. This  will also involve identifying ‘trigger foods’ that may worsen symptoms. I can then help with recommending supplements that may prevent nutrient deficiencies, reduce symptom severity and/or ensure adequate energy intake. Furthermore, I will be  ensuring appropriate dietary fibre, particularly soluble fibre.

Particular focus will also be given to times when a high fibre diet versus a low fibre diet is suitable. To help you plan your meals, I will provide you with practical strategies to increase or decrease your fibre as needed. Generally, a low fibre diet is only required during symptom flare-up as a gradual transition to a high fibre diet is advised once symptom relief is reached.
- Better Health Channel
- The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)
Want to know more about how a Dietitian can help your diverticular disease?

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