Diverticular Disease of the colon is very common. It is more commonly found in Western cultures, particularly older people because the incidence of diverticulosis actually increases with age. It is virtually unknown in communities where the diet is very high in dietary fibre. Diverticula look like pockets in the bowel lining that make it more difficult for waste products to pass through the bowel. They can also trap waste material, becoming inflamed.
Many people can have diverticular disease without realising it because they may not have any symptoms. Some of the more noticeable symptoms can include abdominal pain, variable bowel habit, gas, bloating or urgency of defecation. Abdominal pain is usually in the lower abdomen, more frequently on the left side, and can often be worse in the morning, being relieved by passing wind or defaecating. Diverticular Disease can also co-exist with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and therefore the symptoms for both may be similar. These symptoms can also be similar to those of other diseases such as Bowel Cancer or Colitis. To exclude these other conditions and diagnose diverticular disease, investigations such as a colonoscopy will need to be performed.
What to do about Diverticular Disease?
A good healthy diet is essential. You should follow a high fibre diet and use bulking agents made from natural plant products, such as Metamucil. You should also drink lots of water and do regular exercise. By eating more dietary fibre, you may find that constipation and abdominal pain improve, but initially you may have more bloating. Unprocessed bran is usually the cause of this, especially if it has been finely milled to produce small flakes. Eating this type of bran is can often cause more problems than it actually fixes. Some windy foods that cause problems for people include dairy products, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, canned beans, onions, legumes and artificial sweeteners.
- EAT MOST – Fruits, Vegetables, Breads, Cereals.
- EAT MODERATELY – Lean meat, Chicken or Fish, Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt, Eggs.
- EAT LEAST – Fats, Salt, Sugar.
High Fibre Foods include:
- Wholemeal Bread
- Wholegrain Cereals
- Legumes(dried beans, peas and lentils)
- Fruits (but not juices)
- Vegetables (cooked vegetables often have more fibre than salads)