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Question : I recently had diverticulitis. I have read different recommendations regarding diet advice. For example, should I avoid nuts, popcorn and foods with seeds?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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June 25, 2014
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As we age, many of us develop small pouches that bulge out of the lining of our lower intestine. The pouches are called diverticula. And the condition is known as diverticulosis.

Sometimes an infection develops in one of the diverticula. This causes abdominal pain, often with fever. That’s diverticulitis.

For many decades, there was the widely held belief that a piece of nut, popcorn or large seed could get stuck in the opening of the diverticula. And that this could lead to diverticulitis.

But a 2008 study testing this belief showed some surprising results. More than 47,000 men ages 40 to 75 kept track of their food intake over 18 years.  None had diverticulosis at the start of the study.

Men who ate more nuts and popcorn actually had fewer cases of diverticulitis. The study results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

During an episode of diverticulitis, the bowel needs to rest. So during this time, I recommend a low-fiber diet. But once it’s over, getting sufficient fiber in your diet and drinking plenty of fluids may help prevent more pouches from forming.

A good diet to follow is a Mediterranean-style diet. It’s loaded with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  As for nuts and popcorn — enjoy!

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