The relationship between diverticulitis and alcohol appears to be weak, with some studies suggesting it may play a causative role in the development of this digestive condition, while others do not. Patients with active diverticulitis may be advised to avoid alcohol along with other potential irritants because they can make a flareup worse. People with diverticulitis who have concerns about drinking alcohol can discuss them with a medical professional to see if there are any specific recommendations.
In diverticulitis, small pouches form along the intestinal wall. Some people have asymptomatic forms of this condition, where the sacs do not cause problems. Others experience inflammation leading to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other health issues. The reasons for why this condition develops are unclear, although there seems to be a genetic factor, and people with poor diets can be at increased risk. In regions where people tend to eat a high fiber, low fat diet, the incidence of this disease is very low.
Alcoholics tend to eat a poor diet, and this can create the illusion of a connection between diverticulitis and alcohol. The cause of the condition is actually the limited fiber and nutrition in the alcoholic diet, rather than the alcohol itself. People who eat a balanced diet and consume alcohol in moderation do not appear to have an increased risk of developing this condition, unless they have a family history of diverticulitis or other gastrointestinal complaints.
For patients with active flareups, it may be best to avoid alcohol, since it can irritate the gut and may make the inflammation worse. People who notice increased pain or bowel irregularity in connection with drinking should stop for the duration of the flareup to rest the digestive system. It is also important to eat lots of whole foods high in fiber, like fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains. This will help address the inflammation and make the patient feel more comfortable.
Studies on diverticulitis and alcohol, along with other environmental factors, are ongoing. These include look-back studies, where researchers examine medical histories for people diagnosed with diverticulitis to look for commonalities between them, as well as ongoing studies. Patients with a family history of this condition may want to see if they are eligible for any studies or clinical trials on new methods for preventing and treating diverticulitis. A gastrointestinal specialist can provide more information and help people apply for any open studies.