Often described as “pockets” on the bowel, diverticular disease is a very common condition, which is usually asymptomatic. The pockets develop when the lining of the bowel protrudes through the muscle layer to form small lumps on the surface of the bowel. The condition is mostly likely to occur in the sigmoid colon but occasionally can be present throughout the bowel. It is more common with advancing age and is present in a majority of the Western population past middle age. In most people the condition causes no symptoms but it can be associated with infection and pain (diverticulitis), bleeding or altered bowel habit due to narrowing of the colon.
A high fibre diet is usually recommended in patients with diverticular disease but no other special diet is needed. There is no evidence that seeds or nuts cause problems in people with diverticular disease. Surgical treatment is only required if there are complications such as recurrent infection, perforation or blockage of the bowel.