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Dietitian can spruce up your diet

Peter Gott United Media

Dear Dr. Gott: I suffer from acute diverticulitis. Am I stuck forever eating bland and tasteless foods? Do you have any thoughts about my diet and foods I should avoid to prevent a recurrence of this condition?

Dear Reader: Diverticulitis is a common condition, characterized by repeated episodes of infection in the wall of the colon. When these areas become inflamed, pain and fever develop; there may be intestinal bleeding, too. The affliction is diagnosed by colon X-rays and is treated with antibiotics.

There is no unanimous consensus about the role of diet in preventing diverticulitis. Obviously, large portions of indigestible foods, such as salads and nuts, are best avoided. But many authorities do not prohibit moderate amounts of these edibles, providing these foods don’t consistently cause symptoms.

In addition, some experts advise against eating fruits with small seeds (strawberries, raisins and the like) on the theory that such indigestible seeds may trigger an attack or infection. This recommendation is far from universal, however.

I really don’t see a compelling reason why you should be restricted to a “bland and tasteless” diet. This seems a bit unnecessary to me. Nonetheless, I don’t want to give advice that runs counter to what your doctor has told you, so perhaps you should check with him about this specific point.

My patients with diverticulitis appear to do well on a healthful, well-balanced diet that goes easy on fiber. But I don’t restrict spices, and I certainly don’t recommend ground or pureed food. Perhaps a dietitian can spruce up your diet; ask your doctor to refer you to one.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Diverticular Disease.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: Are there exercises or physical training that would be helpful for irritable bowel syndrome? My physician is unfamiliar with treatment of this condition.

Dear Reader: There are no exercises specifically for irritable bowel syndrome, a common intestinal disorder marked by excessive gas, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or constipation.

Nonetheless, general exercises – such as brisk walking, hiking or swimming – may help you. As you may have discovered, irritable bowel syndrome is frequently worsened by stress and depression. Both these conditions may be tempered by exercise.

In addition, you might also try using Metamucil daily; its stool-bulking effect often stabilizes bowel function.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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