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What is a Low-Residue Diet?

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See the website’s page for low-residue diets for sample menus.

A low-residue diet may be in the cards if you have diverticulitis, an inflammation of the small pouches along the wall of your colon. Diverticulitis causes abdominal pain, fever, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and lack of appetite.

While it’s theorized that a high-fiber diet helps prevent diverticulitis, you might need a short-term low-residue diet when your diverticulitis symptoms flare up. Treatment for acute pain may include antibiotics, a liquid diet and a slow return to a high-fiber diet.

Aside from the occasional use of a low-residue diet for inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis, doctors may prescribe it for a partial intestinal obstruction.

While a complete intestinal obstruction is life-threatening and usually requires surgery, a partial one can sometimes resolve itself with a liquid or low-residue diet, says the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The diet takes some strain off the digestive system in breaking down food particles.

Intestinal obstructions can occur when abdominal adhesions -- tissues and organs that somehow get stuck together -- leave the intestine kinked or twisted. The resulting obstruction affects the passage of food or stool and causes severe abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting, bloating, loud bowel sounds, inability to pass gas, and constipation. Blockages can be diagnosed through an X-ray, a lower GI series and other means.

Remember that with any digestive disease, it’s best to receive nutritional counseling from a health care professional.


“Abdominal Adhesions.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 21 March 2012. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/intestinaladhesions/index.aspx

“Diet and Nutrition.” Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Web. 21 March 2012.

“Low-Residue Diet.” WebMD. Web. 21 March 2012.

“Diverticulitis - Treatment Overview.” WebMD. 21 March 2012.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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