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The dos and don’ts of managing diverticular disease

January 1, 2022

Pay attention to symptoms and follow a healthy lifestyle.

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Stay away from nuts and seeds, and don’t eat popcorn — that’s what doctors said years ago if you had diverticulosis, a condition marked by tiny pouches (diverticula) that develop in the lining of the colon. The thinking was that little bits of food could get stuck in those pouches and cause inflammation or infection (which is called diverticulitis). Today we know the advice was wrong.

"You don’t have to worry about eating nuts, seeds, or popcorn. The evidence does not show a higher risk of diverticulitis in people who eat a lot of those foods, compared with people who don’t," says gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, a Harvard Medical School professor and the Anton R. Fried, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

In this guide, we will explain how diverticular disease can appear with little or no warning. We’ll show you how to tell when you may be having symptoms and give you steps you can take to keep the problem from developing in the walls of your colon in the first place, including tips on maintaining a healthy, high-fiber diet. We’ll explore the more common diverticulosis, then go into detail about the more serious diverticulitis, offering insight into treatments for both, as well as self-help and prevention strategies

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