Diverticular Disease is a disease of the colon. The colon is a part of the large intestine that excretes the waste and toxic materials from the body.
Diverticular Disease comes in two types: diverticulosis and diverticulitis:
- Diverticulosis develops when pouches form inside the colon, and these pouches are called diverticula.
- Diverticulitis develops when diverticula (the pouches) become inflamed.
Up to now, the cause of this disease is not clear. Although many experts think that it can be due to low fiber diet. Fiber is that part of the food that the body doesn't digest. Instead, it stays in the colon, absorbs water, and makes the bowel movement much easier. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber. When a person doesn't take in as much fiber as required, the result can be constipation or hardened tools. Straining during constipation can cause diverticula to form inside the colon. This can lead to diverticulitis when pouches are infected with the bacteria from the stool become inflamed.
Luckily, most people suffering from this condition do not complain about severe discomfort. However, it's important to note that it can affect some people with serious symptoms such as:
- pouch rips
- blockage in the digestive system
- rupture of colon that transfers the stool into the abdomen
Since low fiber has been pointed as the culprit for this disease, many experts attest that a high-fiber vegetarian diet can greatly reduce the risk of developing this condition.
In a recent study in the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, it has been found that vegetarians are 30 percent less prone to diverticular disease than people who eat meat. This study, which appeared on the online edition of BMJ, involved 47,033 adults. About 15,400 of them were vegetarians.
After almost 12 years, 812 people in the study developed diverticular disease, which resulted in hospitalization. Six of these people died. Among those 812 people, as mentioned above, there were 30 percent less vegetarians, proving that vegetarians have less chance of developing this disease. Eating 25 grams of fiber a day lowers your risk of hospitalization or death from diverticular disease.
It's not just fruits and vegetables that you must consume more of but also whole grain products like wheat breads, whole grain cereals, and many more. Since fiber is the "broom" that can sweep away the toxic substances in the colon, it is the key in diverticular disease prevention. It can also prevent recurrence if you already suffered from this disease.
People who live in the United Kingdom and the United States have low fiber diet compared to other countries. This is the reason why diverticular disease has gotten the nickname, "disease of the Western civilization".