Diverticulosis—the presence of small bulges known as diverticula in the lining of the colon—is widespread in the United States, affecting more than 30% of the adult population. Less than 5% of these individuals will develop diverticulitis—a painful condition in which the bulges become inflamed. Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for diverticulitis in this country. Treatment for diverticulitis can involve antibiotics and rest. Preventative measures such as eating a high-fiber diet, drinking lots of water, and taking a probiotic can help you steer clear altogether.
What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is the inflammation, and sometimes infection, of diverticula—small, protruding pockets that can form in the lining of your digestive tract. Diverticula typically form when your colon becomes weakened by pressure, though they’re usually so benign that most people are unaware they have them. When these pockets become inflamed, however, diverticulitis can cause abdominal tenderness, pain, nausea and vomiting, fever, and constipation or diarrhea.
There are several causes of diverticulitis. The most common are:
- Lack of exercise
- A low fiber diet that is high in animal fat
- Medications like steroids, opioids, and NSAIDs like Advil and Aleve
Most people with diverticulitis recover after a course of antibiotics, rest, and an improved diet that includes increased fiber. Some may develop complications and require surgery. These complications include:
- An abscess in the diverticula pocket
- A bowel blockage
- Fistulas between the bowel and other organs or between different parts of the bowel
How the Gut Microbiome Imbalance May Relate to Diverticulitis
As with most intestinal diseases, an imbalance in the gut’s microbiome is thought to be a contributing factor. When your gut microbiome is unbalanced, inflammation and infections like diverticulitis have an easier time taking hold, weakening your gut even more. Additionally, an already leaky gut, where the lining of the gut is thinning and bacteria can pass back and forth, makes it harder to recover from a diverticulitis flare.
This creates a vicious cycle:
- A flare-up of diverticulitis
- A weakened gut lining
- An increased susceptibility to infection
- Another flare-up of diverticulitis
Dealing with Diverticulitis
People suffering from diverticulitis are usually given a list of foods and medicines to steer clear of. As with many other intestinal issues, however, not all foods affect everyone the same way: what is harmful to one person may be perfectly fine for your, and vice versa. The best thing you can do is figure out which foods cause your diverticulitis to flare up and do your best to avoid it.
For instance, many doctors used to outlaw strawberries (because of the seeds), popcorn, and nuts. But recently, they have begun shifting to a patient-centered approach in which all the likely culprits are eliminated, then reintroduced one by one to see which ones are safe and which are triggers.
Other physician recommendations include:
- Well-balanced meals and snacks
- High fiber foods like beans and legumes, bran, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables
- Drinking enough fluids every day to work in tandem with the high fiber diet
How Gut Care and Probiotics Can Help
Probiotics and prebiotics can lessen the severity of a flare-up of diverticulitis and help reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that will help balance your current gut microbiome and protect you from infection. Prebiotics eliminate the bad bacteria so that more good bacteria can grow. If you suffer from diverticulitis, the first step to protecting yourself is to take a probiotic and a prebiotic to help your body remove waste without putting pressure on your colon.
At Jetson, our Gut Prep blend delivers the spores of good bacteria to your gut to germinate new colonies. When taken in conjunction with our Digest probiotic blend, you will have everything you need to restore your digestive balance.
Also, most diverticulitis flares that result in an infection require a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are great for emergencies, but they can ravage your gut microbiome and cause future health issues—like leaky gut syndrome. Our Gut Recovery is the perfect antidote to these issues. It replenishes the good bacteria during and after antibiotics, improves digestion, and boosts immunity.
Not sure which blend to try? Take our gut quiz now.