occurs when small, bulging pouches develop in your digestive tract. 

When one or more of these pouches becomes inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis.  It can produce an acute, sometimes devastating illness, characterized by severe abdominal pain in the left lower part of the abdomen, fever and prostration (extreme physical weakness or emotional exhaustion).

The treatment usually consists of fluids, bed rest, and antibiotics and sometimes a hospital admission.

Diverticulosis is much less common in lifelong vegetarians.

No one is born with these pouches, but in Western societies, half the population will develop at least one, and usually a few dozen, by age 60.

The colons of people living in underdeveloped countries show a virtual absence of diverticular disease. Healthy, low, pressures in the colon happen when the diet is high in starches (potatoes, beans, rice, pasta and tofu), vegetables, and fruits

While you are recovering from an acute attack of diverticulitis, eat a healthy starch-based diet with some helpful modifications for indigestion (cut out fruit juice and onions) and constipation (add ground flaxseeds).  

There is no reason to avoid seeds or any other natural plant foods, as particles from these will not get stuck in your diverticuli.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications are largely used to treat symptoms rather than the cause.

A high fiber diet will decrease the likelihood of developing new diverticuli. The diverticuli already formed are permanent herniations of the colon, and will not disappear except by surgical removal, which is rarely indicated.

In the EPIC study of 47,000 men and women living in England or Scotland and studied for nine years, it was found that consuming a vegetarian diet with a high intake of dietary fiber was associated with a lower risk of admission to the hospital or death from diverticular disease.  A high-fiber diet results in large stools that are easy to pass.

Animal foods, including meat, poultry, fish and dairy products contain no fiber.  If there is not enough fiber in your diet then your stool is hard to pass and movement requires contractions of the bowel at very high pressures. Years of elevated pressures produce ruptures in the walls of the intestine (balloon-like bulges) called diverticula.

People with inflammatory bowel diseases are at greater risk than the average American for developing colon cancer. This provides another reason to change from your high-fat, high-cholesterol, low fiber diet.

Remember, what you put into your intestines determines their health. 

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© 2010-2016 Melinda Coker

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