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Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is a condition characterized by the development of diverticula, which are small pockets of hollow or fluid filled tissue, on the lining of the bowels. The diverticula may be as small as a pea or much larger.

This condition can be caused by a variety of factors. In most cases, it is formed when the pressure within the intestinal walls is increased by excess waste, gas, or fluid. As a result, diverticula form in weakened areas of the wall. Diverticulosis may also develop from straining during bowel movements and most often occurs in the lower portion of the colon, also known as the sigmoid colon. This area is affected more often because this is where the greatest amount of compression takes place.

Some research indicates this condition may occur as the result of colon spasms, though this theory has yet to be proven. Supporters of this theory believe these spasms are promoted by a low-fiber diet and dehydration. Whether or not dehydration and low fiber actually cause this condition, or just the resulting constipation, is yet to be proven. Approximately 10% of individuals over the age of 40 and 50% of those over age 50 develop it.

Symptoms

In most cases, there are no symptoms associated with the condition. For this reason, it generally is not discovered until a person undergoes testing for an unrelated health concern. Typical symptoms include:

  • Bleeding in variable amounts
  • Abdominal pain or cramping after eating
  • Bloating
  • Changes in bowel movements in the form of diarrhea and constipation
  • A feeling of pressure in the abdomen
  • A tickling sensation in the abdomen

In the 20% of cases where complications arise, rectal bleeding may occur. This condition is referred to as Diverticular bleeding. In severe cases, an infection may also develop in a condition known as Diverticulitis.

Preventing the Problem

Diverticulosis can be prevented by maintaining healthy bowel habits. Similarly, people already suffering from this digestive disorder may be able to reduce their chances of experiencing complications by following healthy habits. Healthy bowel habits include having regular bowel movements and avoiding constipation and thus the subsequent straining.

In order to maintain regular bowel movements, it is important to use the bathroom when the urge occurs rather than “holding” it. Engaging in regular physical activity also helps keep things working well, as does following a high fiber diet and drinking plenty of water.

Diverticulosis Diet

According to the American Dietetic Association, good bowel health requires eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day. Fiber can be obtained from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods that are particularly high in fiber include:

  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • cabbage
  • asparagus
  • carrots
  • beans
  • squash
  • berries
  • crackers
  • whole grain breads and cereals
  • bran products
  • brown rice

Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water is also necessary, particularly when increasing fiber consumption. This is because fiber cannot be absorbed by the human digestive system. As a result, it remains within the colon and soaks up water, which helps create looser stool. But, if enough water is not consumed, the fiber will soak up all the moisture ambient and this actually leads to constipation.

It is important to avoid using laxatives as a method of treating Diverticulosis.  Laxatives do not actually cleanse the colon and, even worse, can make the colon dependent upon them to work efficiently. Similarly, enemas should be avoided because they can further damage the colon if not administered properly. Therefore, it is best to use all-natural organic supplements to occasionally cleanse the colon and keep things moving properly.

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