November 2017 - The Wesley Communities

Diverticulosis and Nutrition

Diverticulosis is a chronic condition where there are sac-like pouches protruding from the large intestine. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is then known as diverticulitis.
The most commonly suspected cause of diverticulosis is a low fiber diet. Consuming low fiber can lead to constipation, which can make it difficult to pass stool and lead to straining. This straining can put pressure on the colon, which may lead to the development of the sac-like pouches. Individuals with diverticulosis should consume a high fiber diet to prevent constipation. A high fiber diet should include an additional 6 to 10 grams of fiber beyond what is typically recommended (25 to 35 grams a day). Foods high in fiber include:

  • Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, and other grains
  • Fruits such as prunes, apples, bananas, and pears
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit and vegetables with skin/peel on
  • Beans, peas, and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, crackers, and cereal Previous recommendations include avoidance of nuts, seeds, and hulls. There is no evidence to show this contributes to the development of diverticulitis, therefore the current nutrition recommendations focus on increased fiber.

When the sac-like pouches become inflamed or infected, your doctor may recommend no foods by mouth to allow your large intestine to rest. As you begin eating foods again you should slowly begin with low fiber foods that are easy to digest. Foods low in fiber include:

  • Tender well-cooked meats
  • Eggs
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Tofu
  • Cream of wheat and grits
  • Refined grains such as white bread and cereals made with white flour
  • Canned and/or well-cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Canned, soft, and/or well-cooked fruit, or fruit juice without pulp
  • Broth

As the infection and inflammation heals, fiber can slowly be added back into the diet.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Stroke and Nutrition

A stroke occurs when there is a change in the flow of blood to the brain that leads to a change in and/or loss of function. Some risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Family history
  • Health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity
  • Lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in fat and cholesterol, lack of exercise, and smoking

The effects of a stroke can vary, and depend on the location of the damage in the brain and the amount of damage. There may be changes in behavior or the ability to perform daily activities. Some individuals may find it more difficult to feed themselves or swallow. If these problems are present, an Occupational Therapist can help with self-feeding, while a Speech Therapist can help with swallowing problems. A doctor can help determine appropriate treatment options.
Healthy eating may help with weight and blood pressure management, which can help to prevent another stroke. In general, healthy eating involves:

  • Low sodium: to help control blood pressure.
  • Plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products: to help keep blood pressure under control.
  • Choosing heart-healthy fats: such as soybean, canola, olive, or flaxseed oil over saturated fats and trans fats to reduce the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels.

There are many ways to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. Some ways to start include:

  • Choose foods with less than 300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving.
  • Use herbs and spices, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food.
  • Choose carefully when eating out. Restaurant foods can be high in sodium.
  • Choose fiber-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and apples, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. Whole grains include whole wheat bread products, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Eat fatty, cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines) twice a week. These provide heart-healthy fats. Try to choose fresh or frozen varieties, as canned may be too high in sodium.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods, foods made with animal products, or fried foods. Trans fats are found in meat and foods that contain hydrogenated oils (e.g., peanut butter and margarine).
  • Limit cholesterol from food to 200 mg per day. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks, shrimp, and full-fat dairy foods.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Cancer and Nutrition

Cancer begins when cells in the body become abnormal. As these cells duplicate, a mass of tissue made of abnormal cells forms and is called a tumor. Normal cells grow and divide and know to stop growing. Over time, they also die. Unlike these normal cells, cancer cells continue to multiply and do not die when they are supposed to. If the tumor gets bigger, it can damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away and spread to other parts of the body.
Nutrition is important for both cancer prevention and treatment. If diagnosed with cancer, there are numerous treatments that can be utilized, all of which can cause side effects capable of affecting nutrition. Some effects of cancer treatments include:

  • Fatigue: Get plenty of rest, and if unable to eat large amounts, choose calorie-dense foods (e.g., butter, cheese, ice cream, and milkshakes)
  • Nausea and vomiting: Avoid excessive exposure to the smell of food, and take medications with food if able
  • Taste changes: Stay well hydrated (this can be linked to dry mouth) and eat citrus foods to stimulate saliva production
  • Dry mouth or thick saliva: Stay well hydrated and try sucking on ice chips
  • Sore mouth or sore throat: Pick soft, easy-to-chew foods; add gravy and sauce to food
  • Diarrhea: Drink plenty of fluids, choose low-fiber foods, and avoid irritating foods (e.g., dairy, sugar, and spicy foods)
  • Constipation: Eat fiber-rich foods and stay well hydrated
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss: Choose calorie-dense foods (e.g., butter, cheese, ice cream, and milkshakes)

There are also unique side effects that can vary depending on the location of the
cancer. For example:

  • Head and neck cancer may lead to chewing difficulties
  • Colon cancer may be associated with more gastrointestinal-related side effects (e.g., diarrhea)
  • Lung cancer may lead to an increase in shortness of breath, which can make eating more difficult

Nutrition is also important for cancer survivors, as well as those looking to prevent cancer. The following guidelines can help minimize the risk for cancer:

  • Eat plant-based foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and excessive energy-dense foods (e.g., chips, cookies, and candy).
  • Limit consumption of red meats (e.g., beef, pork, and lamb)
  • Limit consumption of processed meats (e.g., bacon, sausage, and salami)
  • If consuming alcohol, keep it to 2 drinks/day for men and 1 for woman
  • Avoid excessive salt consumption

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.