Dietary tips for large bowel obstruction and colitis

The colon is part of the digestive system and reabsorbs water and electrolytes through the colon mucosa. In addition, the large intestine fends off diseases and bacteria and also functions as a storage facility for stool. Colitis (inflammation of the colon) is an inflammatory process that can be acute or chronic. One of the most common forms of colitis is the widespread and well-known appendicitis.

Diverticulitis should be distinguished from such acute inflammatory processes. Diverticulitis describes chronic infections of mucosal protrusions as a chronic process with recurring symptoms.

In connection with diverticulitis, questions are repeatedly asked about a diet that suits the disease. It must also be taken into account that diverticulitis is a typical disease in Western civil societies and is practically not observed at all in Asia or Africa. Accordingly, it can be assumed that one of the main causes of the disease patterns is to be found in lifestyle and diet. In this context, it is also interesting that long-time vegetarians are significantly less affected.

Diet in the acute stage of diverticulitis

In the acute course of diverticulitis, one or more diverticula (protrusions of the intestinal mucosa) are usually infected. Typical symptoms are pain in the left lower abdomen, fever and increased inflammation values in the laboratory test. In case of such manifestations, the family doctor should be consulted urgently, who may also prescribe hospital care, antibiotic medication and a sparing diet. In an extreme emergency, surgery must be performed immediately, especially if fever and an unstable circulation are accompanied by the typical pain.

If no surgery is required acutely, special attention must be paid to nutrition in the acute stage of diverticulitis. It is advisable to completely avoid solid food for a few days. Liquid food and sparing food are compulsory and can be gradually built up to a light sparing food under individual nutritional counselling.

A diet plan in the sequence could then look something like this: Start with water, continue with tea and rusks, clear soups, creamy soups and yoghurt. This sequence is spread over a time frame of several days and must be set individually.

In the phase of the build-up diet, it is imperative to avoid fatty, spicy or flatulent foods in order not to further irritate the intestines. As soon as intestinal activity returns to normal, other foods can gradually be reintroduced into the diet.

A change in diet is recommended after diverticulitis

The top recommendation is: Change your diet to a high-fibre diet, similar to diverticular prophylaxis, even after an infection. In this way, you prevent a new inflammatory episode and also prevent a new diverticulum formation through a softer and more voluminous stool.

It is important when changing to a high-source diet that you also drink enough now. Water and tea are preferable.

In summary, we would like to give the following tips on dietary changes after diverticulitis:

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Important are the vegetable fibres and high water content.
  • Drink a lot! Dietary fibre is only helpful if you drink at least two litres of water or tea in parallel.
  • Prefer vegetables of the easily digestible variety such as tomatoes, carrots and courgettes.
  • Wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta are more suitable for diverticulitis nutrition than white bread.
  • If you have diverticulosis, you should avoid hard, pointed and hard-to-digest food components, such as the seeds of apples, pears or melons.
  • Wheat or oat bran and ground linseed are also good. Avoid constipating foods such as black tea, chocolate, cocoa, bananas and white flour products.

Allow time for the change to a diet rich in fibre and source material. And above all, stay consistent.