Doctors don’t know exactly why diverticulosis happens and why some people go on to experience diverticulitis while others don’t. So, it may not be possible to completely prevent this health condition. But there are things that may prevent diverticula from developing in the first place, or at least reduce the likelihood of them becoming inflamed once they do occur.
These prevention methods include:
- Following a high-fiber diet (people who eat more fiber appear less likely to have diverticulitis)
- Exercising regularly
- Drinking enough water and fluids (how much water a person needs depends on things like their activity level and geographic location, but according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, most adult cisgender men should aim for 3.7 liters per day and most adult cisgender women should aim for 2.7 liters per day)
- Maintaining a healthy weight (since obesity is a known common risk factor for diverticulitis)
Some health experts also recommend taking probiotics in food or supplement form to restore the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Many people find probiotics to be beneficial, although they haven’t been proven to prevent diverticulitis.
At least one study, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, found that people with higher levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop diverticulitis, suggesting that getting enough of this nutrient may also help prevent this condition.
In addition, while it’s not proven that smoking cessation can prevent diverticulitis, smokers are more likely to develop diverticulitis than nonsmokers. Also, some research indicates that people with diverticulitis who do smoke are more likely to experience complications and require surgery. So, quitting smoking (or never picking up the habit) could also be a good way to prevent diverticulitis.
What can you do for recurrent diverticulitis?
It may not be possible to completely prevent diverticulitis flare-ups, and once the diverticula develop they don’t go away. Fortunately, doctors agree there are certain measures a person can take to reduce the frequency and severity of their flare-ups. These measures are generally the same lifestyle habits that are thought to prevent diverticulitis, such as regular exercise, a high-fiber diet, healthy weight maintenance, and smoking cessation.
For people with recurring diverticulitis, regular communication with their doctor is important. This communication ensures they receive the individualized and timely treatment necessary to manage their symptoms and overall well-being.