What exactly is diverticulitis?
Syda Productions/Shutterstock To fully understand what causes diverticulitis, you must take a few steps backward. Diverticula are small pockets that form in the colon. Not everyone develops these pockets, but they are pretty common, especially after age 40. They rarely cause issues—unless one of the pockets become inflamed or infected. “This is what we would call diverticulitis,” says Arun Swaminath, MD, director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “With diverticulitis, comes pain in the lower abdomen and fever,” he says. There may be other symptoms of diverticulitis too. So the question really becomes what causes diverticulitis?
Don’t worry about nuts and seeds
TalyaAL/Shutterstock Popcorn lovers, rejoice! Nuts and seeds likely do not cause diverticulitis, despite what people believe. This is a huge game changer as doctors have advised anyone with a history of diverticulitis to refrain from eating nuts, seeds, and popcorn. “We used to think that seeds or popcorn got stuck in these pockets and blocked them resulting in inflammation and infection,” Dr. Swaminath says. As it turns out, no surgeon has ever found seeds or nuts lodged in one of these pouches. Then a large-scale study sealed the deal: Men who ate nuts, corn, or popcorn frequently were found to have no greater risk of developing diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding than men who rarely ate such foods. This is great news as nuts are among the best disease fighters that we have in our pantries.