People with diverticulosis are sometimes instructed to avoid foods that contain indigestible particles such as popcorn, nuts, and fruits with small seeds. However, a large study with detailed information on diet found that people who frequently ate nuts or popcorn were NOT more likely to experience diverticulitis than those who did not eat these foods. Therefore, it is no longer recommended that people with diverticulosis or diverticulitis avoid these foods.
People who eat a diet high in fiber are less likely to develop diverticulitis than those who eat little fiber (although, as noted above, a high-fiber diet does not appear to decrease the chances of developing diverticulosis). Reducing the amount of red meat in the diet may also decrease the possibility of diverticulitis.
Studies show that people who maintain a healthy weight and/or exercise regularly are less likely to develop diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding than those who are overweight or who do not exercise. Avoiding smoking is also likely to help prevent diverticulitis, especially perforated diverticulitis.
Minimizing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, may decrease the chances of developing diverticulitis. However, if you take aspirin for your heart or blood vessels, you should not stop aspirin without talking to your doctor. Opiate narcotics and corticosteroids also appear to predispose to diverticulitis.
Several different medications have been studied in hopes of preventing recurrent diverticulitis in patients who have had one or more attacks. Unfortunately, the best studied drug, mesalamine, has not reduced the likelihood of recurrent diverticulitis. There are only a few small studies on the use of probiotics (healthy bacteria) or rifaximin (a kind of antibiotic), so it isn’t clear if these medications might help reduce recurrent diverticulitis.