Can You Eat Popcorn With Diverticulitis?

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

Anyone who suffers from diverticulitis will be acutely aware of how embarrassing and painful a flareup can be. There’s nothing worse than dining out with your new love interest, only to be struck down mid-course.

Simple pleasures such as munching through a bag of popcorn at the drive-through pictures cannot be taken for granted. Throw caution to the wind, and the wind will be throwing caution to you! 

Read these little-known facts surrounding the chronic condition. We explore the definition and symptoms of diverticulitis. Learn what can trigger a flareup and the role that roughage such as popcorn plays. Scroll down further to discover useful tips for controlling the disease, and our final thoughts on the matter. 

Can You Eat Popcorn With Diverticulitis

What Is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a surprisingly common disease of the digestive system. Diverticulitis refers to the formation of tiny sacs or polyps (called diverticula) that form in the large intestine wall. These occur in weak areas of the bowel wall, where the blood vessels are found to penetrate.

Diverticulosis refers to the presence of diverticula, and diverticulosis is the word given for when diverticula become inflamed or infected. Infection can lead to very serious complications.

What are the risk factors for diverticulitis to develop, and what age groups are affected?

The debate on what causes this often debilitating condition to initially develop is ongoing. 

Many experts associate the onset of this condition with age and a loss of collagen in the intestinal wall. Reduced collagen ultimately leads to bowel walls becoming weaker. This weakness enables diverticula to then form and begin their attack.

Most doctors agree that this is an age-related condition. In fact, below the age of 40, cases are between just 2 – 5%. From the age of 40, cases rise to 20%. By the time you reach 60 years-old, the amount of reported cases are at an alarming 60%.

Other risk factors include smoking, a lack of exercise, not consuming enough water, and being overweight. The initial diagnosis of diverticulosis is also associated with a low-fiber diet.

Symptoms Of Diverticulitis

Asymptomatic means presenting with no symptoms. When diagnosed with diverticulosis, people are generally asymptomatic. However, when inflammation occurs,  the dreaded symptoms rear their ugly head. Symptoms included are:

1. Bloating

– One of the most common symptoms is bloating.

2. Diverticular Bleeding

– This is quite often painless.

3. Constipation

– An attack often results in constipation.

4. Cramps

– Cramps can fluctuate from being mild to chronic in severity.

5. Diarrhea

– This embarrassing symptom can occur suddenly and without any warning whatsoever. People with this condition regularly need to plan their day trips with care.

6. Nausea

– A flareup typically results in either feeling sick or having bouts of nausea. Acute attacks can result in nausea lasting for several hours.

7. Gas

– A flareup can cause loud and embarrassing gas to develop.

8. Medications

– Medications such as NSAIDs, opiates, and steroids can provoke the onset of this disease.

9. Fever

– If the flareup is particularly bad, people will typically experience fevers and feel very unwell.

Alas, the symptoms of diverticulitis are very similar to many other digestive illnesses. Due to this fact, getting a diagnosis is not always straight-forward.

What Can Trigger A Diverticulitis Flareup?

Alcohol consumption tends to cause a lack of helpful bacteria in your large intestine. This can result in a flareup. Similarly, smoking negatively impacts every area of the body, including the digestive system. Some food types are attributed to a diverticulitis attack. 

What Foods Can Cause A Diverticular Attack?

For those with diverticulosis or dealing with constipation, a diet that is higher in fiber may help. However, those suffering to cope with a bad bout of  are advised to avoid high-fiber foods and stick to water until the inflammation subsides.

Can Popcorn Cause A Flareup?

Until very recently, sufferers of this form of diverticular disease were advised to avoid certain foods such as corn, nuts, and seeds. It was believed that if these foods were trapped in the diverticula, they would irritate. Inflammation known as diverticulitis would then ensure.

This has not been officially proven.  So, is it safe to eat popcorn if you have diverticulosis or mild diverticulitis – or will this tasty snack result in serious consequences?  Let’s take a look.

What Is Popcorn Made From?

Popcorn is enjoyed as the snack of choice by many and originates from wild grass. This healthy and high-fiber cereal grain is composed of endosperm, germ and bran. Eating plain air-blown popcorn is a very healthy lifestyle choice. 

Can You Eat Popcorn With Diverticulitis?

The jury is out. Diverticulitis sufferers can rejoice. It is okay to eat popcorn. Gone are the days of advising people to avoid high-fiber foods. In fact, it is highly recommended. A diet rich in fiber supports optimal functioning of the bowel. It only needs to be avoided if you are suffering from an extreme bout of the condition.

That said, when we reach for the delicious snack, it is usually loaded with salt and sugar. This may cause a few issues. High salt and sugar content is an irritant and can not just cause inflammation, but enhance it too.

It Depends On How Popcorn Is Cooked

Air popped, using a little oil, and microwaving are all great options for cooking popcorn and keeping it healthy. Be aware of the ready-prepared microwave bags. These frequently contain huge amounts of butter, sodium, and sugar.

Final Thoughts

As a rule, popcorn should be considered a good, healthy snack option for people with diverticulitis.  When symptoms flareup, this corn kernel along with other high fiber foods are best avoided. In such instances, drinking water and eating a small amount of soft and easily digested foods is recommended. Once the bowel is calm and the diverticulitis is managed once more, you can resume enjoying the perks of popcorn. 

Much depends on the individual and the severity of the condition. Popcorn with pre-added salt and sugar may be okay as a one-off. Alternatively, cook the popcorn the healthy way, add a little sprinkling of salt or sugar to taste, and you’re good to go!