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Article updated on:

September 26, 2023

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Do Probiotics Help Diverticulitis: Unveiling the Truth (2023)

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Do Probiotics Help Diverticulitis: Unveiling the Truth (2023)

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Probiotics and Diverticulitis: We scrutinizes current research on the role of probiotics in managing diverticulitis, a common gastrointestinal condition.

We assess the efficacy and possible mechanisms behind probiotics in treating inflammation in the colon's small pouches. Our analysis aims to offer insights for diverticulitis patients considering probiotics as a complementary treatment.

Do Probiotics Help Diverticulitis

Probiotics may help in the management of diverticulitis by modulating the gut microbiota and reducing inflammation. Diverticulitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and infection of small pouches called diverticula in the colon. Changes in the gut microbiota have been observed in patients with diverticulitis, with a reduction in anti-inflammatory bacterial species[1]. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts, have been studied for their potential role in the treatment of diverticulitis.

  • Gut Microbiota and Diverticulitis: Alterations in the gut microbiota can lead to mucosal inflammation, dysmotility, and bacterial translocation, all of which contribute to the development of diverticulitis[1]. Probiotics may help restore the balance of the gut microbiota and alleviate these symptoms.
  • Symptomatic Uncomplicated Diverticular Disease (SUDD): In patients with SUDD, probiotics may be beneficial in modulating the intestinal microecology and reducing symptoms. However, the available evidence is limited and of poor quality, with only a few studies showing a potential benefit of probiotics[2].
  • Current Guidelines: Due to the lack of definitive results and the heterogeneity of the available studies, current guidelines do not recommend probiotics for symptom relief in patients with diverticular disease[2].
  • Physician Recommendations: In primary care settings, some doctors recommend probiotics for the treatment of diverticular disease, and about 60% of them are satisfied with the efficacy of probiotics. However, the choice of an evidence-based probiotic can be challenging[3].
  • Limosilactobacillus Reuteri: This specific strain of Lactobacillus has been studied for its anti-inflammatory action in diverticulitis. However, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and optimal dosage[4].

Best Probiotics for Diverculitis

The best probiotics for diverticulitis have not been definitively established, as the available evidence is limited and of poor quality. However, some probiotics have shown potential benefits in the management of diverticulitis. It is important to note that the effectiveness of probiotics may vary depending on the individual and the specific strain of probiotic used. Based on currently available research, the following probiotics have been mentioned in the context of diverticulitis:

  1. Limosilactobacillus Reuteri: This specific strain of Lactobacillus has been studied for its anti-inflammatory action in diverticulitis. However, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and optimal dosage.
  2. Probiotics in combination with other treatments: Some studies suggest that probiotics may be effective in preventing the recurrence of diverticulitis when used in combination with other treatments, such as mesalazine (an anti-inflammatory drug) or salicylates. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the most effective combinations.
It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any probiotic supplementation, as individual needs and responses may vary. Additionally, maintaining a high-fiber diet and engaging in regular physical exercise are crucial components of managing diverticulitis and preventing its progression.

Understanding Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the diverticula, which are small, bulging pouches that can develop in the lining of the digestive system, particularly in the large intestine. These pouches form when the weak spots in the colon's muscle walls push outward. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, it leads to diverticulitis. This condition can range in severity from mild to severe, and it often requires medical intervention.

Causes of Diverticulitis

The exact cause of diverticulitis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be multifactorial. One of the main contributing factors is a diet low in fiber. When an individual consumes a diet lacking in fiber, it can lead to constipation and hard stools. When the stool remains in the colon for extended periods, increased pressure is placed on the colon walls, causing the formation of diverticula. Other factors that may contribute to the development of diverticulitis include obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and certain medications.

Symptoms Associated with Diverticulitis

The symptoms of diverticulitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may present with abdominal pain, usually localized in the left lower quadrant, and discomfort. Other symptoms may include bloating, flatulence, changes in bowel movements (e.g., diarrhea or constipation), and a mild fever. In more severe cases, individuals may experience intense abdominal pain, which may worsen with movement, nausea, vomiting, rectal bleeding, and a high fever. It is essential to seek medical attention promptly if these symptoms occur, as severe diverticulitis can lead to complications such as abscess formation or perforation.

Probiotics: An Overview

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host. They are commonly referred to as "good bacteria" due to their ability to promote a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. Probiotics can be found in various foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or they can be taken as supplements. These beneficial bacteria have gained significant attention in recent years due to their potential role in improving gut health and managing various gastrointestinal disorders.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms, mainly bacteria or yeasts, that are beneficial for the host when consumed in adequate amounts. The most commonly used probiotics are strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These probiotics work by colonizing the intestines and exerting various beneficial effects. They interact with the gut microbiota and help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms, promoting overall gut health.

Types of Probiotics

There are several types of probiotics available, each with its specific strain or combination of strains. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two common genera of bacteria used as probiotics. Within these genera, there are numerous species and strains available, each potentially offering unique benefits. Other less commonly used bacterial strains include Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and Escherichia. Additionally, some yeasts, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, have also been studied for their probiotic properties.

General Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics have been extensively studied for their potential health benefits. Some general benefits associated with probiotics include improved digestion and nutrient absorption, enhanced immune function, prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and alleviation of lactose intolerance symptoms. Probiotics may also contribute to maintaining a healthy gut microbiota composition, reducing the risk of certain gastrointestinal conditions, and supporting overall gut health.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Health

The gut microbiota, formerly known as gut flora, refers to the trillions of microorganisms residing in the human gastrointestinal tract. This complex ecosystem consists of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in various physiological processes and is intimately linked to human health.

Importance of Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota has numerous essential functions in the human body. It aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, produces vitamins, regulates the immune system, and helps in the development and maintenance of a healthy intestinal barrier. Furthermore, the gut microbiota interacts with the central nervous system and influences brain function, which has led to increasing interest in the gut-brain axis.

How Gut Microbiota Affects Overall Health

A healthy gut microbiota is essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Imbalances in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, have been associated with numerous health conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, and mental health disorders. Research suggests that promoting a balanced and diverse gut microbiota can have a positive impact on overall health and may contribute to the prevention and management of various diseases.

Role of Probiotics in Gut Health

Probiotics play a vital role in supporting the health of the gut microbiota. They work by directly interacting with the gut microbiota, modulating its composition, and enhancing microbial diversity. Probiotics can help restore the balance of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, particularly after disruptions caused by factors such as antibiotics, illness, or dietary changes. By promoting a healthy gut microbiota, probiotics contribute to maintaining good gut health and may prevent or alleviate certain gut-related diseases.

Probiotics and Gut-Related Diseases

The use of probiotics has shown promise in managing various gut-related diseases. Their potential to modulate the gut microbiota and alleviate inflammatory responses has been studied extensively. In the context of diverticulitis, probiotics have emerged as a potential complementary treatment option.

The Impact of Probiotics on Gut Inflammation

Inflammation plays a crucial role in the development and progression of diverticulitis. Research suggests that certain probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce gut inflammation. By doing so, probiotics may contribute to the alleviation of symptoms and the prevention of complications associated with diverticulitis.

Probiotics in Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements. Some studies have shown that specific strains of probiotics can help alleviate symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain and bloating. While further research is needed to establish the efficacy of probiotics for IBS, their potential in managing gut-related disorders is promising.

Role of Probiotics in Diarrhea Prevention

Diarrhea is a common symptom associated with several gastrointestinal conditions, including diverticulitis. Probiotics have been studied for their ability to prevent and manage diarrhea by restoring gut microbiota balance and enhancing the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Certain strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii, have demonstrated effectiveness in preventing and reducing the duration of infectious and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Probiotics in Managing Diverticulitis

The potential use of probiotics in managing diverticulitis has gained attention in recent years. Although more research is needed to determine the optimal probiotic strains, dosage, and duration of treatment, several studies have explored the mechanisms and benefits of probiotics in diverticulitis.

Possible Mechanisms of Probiotics in Diverticulitis

The mechanisms by which probiotics may benefit individuals with diverticulitis are not yet fully understood. However, several theories have been proposed. One possible mechanism is the anti-inflammatory effect of probiotics, which can help reduce gut inflammation and alleviate symptoms associated with diverticulitis. Probiotics may also promote the production of short-chain fatty acids, which can provide nourishment to the colon cells and contribute to a healthier gut environment.

Studies on Probiotic Use for Diverticulitis

Several studies have explored the potential benefits of probiotics in diverticulitis. A randomized controlled trial published in 2019 investigated the effects of a probiotic combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium longum in individuals with acute uncomplicated diverticulitis. The study found that the probiotics group had a reduced recurrence rate of diverticulitis compared to the placebo group. However, more research is needed to validate these findings and determine the optimal probiotic strains and treatment duration.

Probiotics as a Complementary Treatment for Diverticulitis

While conventional medical treatments, such as antibiotics and dietary modifications, are the mainstay of diverticulitis management, probiotics offer a potential complementary treatment approach. The use of probiotics in conjunction with standard therapies may help restore the balance of gut microorganisms, reduce inflammation, and alleviate symptoms. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating probiotics into the treatment plan.

Choosing the Right Probiotic for Diverticulitis

When considering probiotic supplementation for diverticulitis, several factors should be taken into account to ensure optimal efficacy.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Probiotics

Not all probiotics are created equal, and making an informed choice is crucial. Factors to consider include the specific strains of bacteria or yeasts, the potency or colony-forming units (CFUs), the product's formulation and quality, and the potential interactions with medications or underlying health conditions.

Recommended Probiotic Strains for Diverticulitis

While research specific to probiotics for diverticulitis is relatively limited, certain strains have shown promise in managing gut-related conditions and may be suitable for individuals with diverticulitis. These include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Saccharomyces boulardii, among others. However, further research is needed to determine the optimal strains and dosages.

Dosage and Timing of Probiotics

The optimal dosage and timing of probiotic supplementation for diverticulitis have not been clearly established. As the characteristics of probiotic strains differ, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer's instructions or consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations. Additionally, probiotics should be taken regularly, ideally at the same time each day, to maintain consistent levels in the gut.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Diverticulitis

In addition to incorporating probiotics, several lifestyle changes can be beneficial in managing diverticulitis.

The Importance of a High-Fiber Diet

A high-fiber diet is considered one of the cornerstones of diverticulitis management. Adequate dietary fiber intake helps promote regular bowel movements, preventing constipation and reducing pressure on the colon walls. It is recommended to consume a variety of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. However, it is important to gradually increase fiber intake to avoid potential exacerbation of symptoms.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress has been linked to gastrointestinal symptoms and may contribute to diverticulitis flare-ups. Implementing stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, regular physical activity, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can be beneficial in managing stress levels and reducing the risk of diverticulitis exacerbations.

The Role of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, including improving digestive function and promoting regular bowel movements. Engaging in aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, can help maintain healthy bowel function and reduce the risk of diverticulitis complications. However, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially for individuals with underlying medical conditions.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Probiotic Supplementation

While probiotics are generally considered safe for most individuals, there are potential risks and side effects to be aware of.

Common Side Effects of Probiotics

Common side effects associated with probiotics include mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These side effects typically resolve on their own within a few days as the body adjusts to the probiotics. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen, it is advisable to discontinue the use of probiotics and consult with a healthcare professional.

Contraindications for Probiotic Use

While probiotics are generally safe, certain individuals should exercise caution or avoid probiotic supplementation altogether. People with compromised immune systems, critically ill patients, those with a history of probiotic-associated infections, or individuals with specific medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before using probiotics.

Tips for Safely Using Probiotics

To ensure the safe use of probiotics, it is essential to follow a few guidelines. These include purchasing reputable probiotic products from trusted sources, storing them according to the manufacturer's instructions, adhering to the recommended dosage, and monitoring for any adverse reactions. As with any dietary supplements, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting probiotic supplementation.

Current Research on Probiotics and Diverticulitis

Research on the use of probiotics in diverticulitis is still relatively limited, and further studies are needed to establish their efficacy and optimal use.

Latest Studies on Probiotics for Diverticulitis

One study published in 2017 investigated the effects of a probiotic combination containing Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis on diverticulitis-related symptoms. The study found that the probiotic treatment group experienced a reduction in abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence compared to the placebo group. However, larger and more robust studies are required to confirm these findings.

Limitations of Current Research

The current research on probiotics for diverticulitis is limited by various factors. These include small sample sizes, a lack of standardized treatment protocols, variations in probiotic strains and dosages used, and the absence of long-term follow-up data. Additionally, the specific mechanisms by which probiotics exert their effects in diverticulitis are still not fully understood.

Future Research Directions

Future research on probiotics and diverticulitis should focus on addressing the limitations of current studies. Large-scale, randomized controlled trials with standardized treatment protocols and long-term follow-up are needed to determine the optimal strains, dosages, and treatment durations. Additionally, further research is required to investigate the mechanisms of action and potential interactions between probiotics and conventional diverticulitis treatments.

The Medical Community's Stance on Probiotics for Diverticulitis

The use of probiotics for diverticulitis is still a topic of ongoing research and discussion within the medical community. However, several health organizations have provided recommendations and guidelines regarding the use of probiotics in gut-related conditions.

Recommendations from Health Organizations

The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) states that probiotics may have a role in managing gastrointestinal conditions such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea. However, the WGO notes that the evidence supporting the use of probiotics for diverticulitis is limited, and further research is needed to establish their efficacy.

Views of Doctors on Probiotic Use

Opinions among healthcare professionals regarding probiotic use for diverticulitis may vary. While some doctors may recommend probiotics as a complementary treatment, others may advise caution due to the limited research and individual patient factors. It is important for individuals with diverticulitis to consult with their healthcare provider for personalized recommendations based on their specific health needs.

Patient Experiences and Testimonials

Patient experiences and testimonials regarding the use of probiotics for diverticulitis can provide valuable insights. Some individuals report symptom relief and improved overall well-being with probiotic supplementation. However, it is essential to interpret these anecdotes cautiously, as individual experiences can vary, and the placebo effect can influence perceived benefits.

In conclusion, while the use of probiotics in managing diverticulitis holds promise, further research is needed to establish their efficacy and determine the optimal strains, dosages, and treatment durations. Probiotics have shown potential benefits in managing gut-related conditions and modulating the gut microbiota, but they should be used as a complementary treatment alongside conventional medical therapies. Individuals with diverticulitis should consult with their healthcare providers to determine the most appropriate probiotic regimen based on their specific health needs. Additionally, incorporating lifestyle changes such as a high-fiber diet, stress management techniques, and regular exercise can further support the management of diverticulitis.



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