DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have asked you in the past a question about diverticulosis but haven’t seen an answer. I will ask again. What foods are not good to eat when you have diverticulosis? I was told that certain seeds, nuts and popcorn should not be eaten. I have had a lot of pain and want to know what foods to stay away from. – L.M.

A high-fiber diet is the recommended diet for diverticulosis – whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Fiber keeps stools soft. The colon doesn’t have to generate great force to move stool along the tract. High colon pressure promotes the formation of diverticula. Fiber prevents such formation.

For generations, doctors have banned nuts, seeds and popcorn for people with diverticulosis. They did so to prevent those foods from getting stuck in the narrow neck of the diverticula. Obstructing the diverticular neck causes the diverticulum to swell and burst – diverticulitis. However, no scientific study has ever demonstrated that these foods really do cause diverticulitis. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House (from the National Institutes of Health) agrees that there is no evidence that these foods are harmful to people with diverticulosis.

Since your own doctor knows you and your diverticulosis better than I do or any expert agency does, follow your doctor’s advice. If you choose to eat these foods and you develop stomach pain, stop. If they don’t bother you, continue with them.

Diverticulosis and its consequence diverticulitis are common problems. The booklet on these subjects explains both. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 502, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What is your opinion on magnet therapy? There’s even have a magnetic pad that fits over your mattress. – W.G.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved magnets for painful joints or back pain. The information on their effectiveness has been contradictory, with some favorable studies and some not so favorable. I’d invest only if there is a money-back guarantee.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How soon after taking medicine is it OK to drink alcohol? I say an hour is enough time. My wife thinks it should be four hours. Who is right? – B.N.

First you should make sure your medicine is compatible with alcohol. Some medicines aren’t. In that case, you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all while taking the medicine. It takes the stomach about four hours to empty its contents. Medication, however, doesn’t stay in the stomach for that long. If your medicine is compatible with alcohol use, the answer is a compromise: You should be safe if you wait about two hours after taking it.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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