Divert the Diverticular DiseaseBy: Evita Basilio
Diverticular disease consists of three conditions that involve the development of small sacs or pockets in the wall of the colon, including diverticulosis, diverticular bleeding, and diverticulitis.
Diverticula are small pouches that bulge outward through the colon, or large intestine found in the condition called diverticulosis. Most people with diverticulosis don’t show symptoms and it isn’t until the pouches become inflamed or infected that diverticulitis develops (which can be very serious).
Prevention is Key!
Diverticular disease becomes more common as people age. About half of all people over the age of 60 have it. Doctors believe the main cause is a low-fibre diet.
Fibre serves an important role in the digestive process, softening stool and helping it move more smoothly through the colon. A lack of fibre can cause constipation, which makes stools harder and more difficult to pass, putting stress on the muscles of the colon which may lead to the development of diverticula.
Our westernized diet is low in fibre and high in fatty foods. Our days are busy, we forget to drink enough water, and sometimes we just don’t have the time to respond to bowel urges. A combination of this plus smoking and a lack of exercise all contribute to diverticular disease.
Where Can You Get Fibre?
Fibre can be found in fruits, legumes such as dried beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, nuts and seeds, vegetables and whole grains. It’s important to remember that with a high-fibre diet, you need to drink plenty of water to help push the material through your colon! Click here for a list of some high-fibre foods.
Did you know? Canadian women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day. Most Canadians are only getting about half that much!
2 Tbsp of ground flaxseeds gives you 15% of your Recommended Dietary Allowance of fibre. Add ground flaxseeds to oats, smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods – you can even try breading chicken or fish with it. A 2 Tbsp serving contains 3.8 grams of fiber and a dose of omega-3 fatty acids to boot!
Flaxseeds are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel that travels through your intestines. This type of fibre can help lower your total blood cholesterol. It also appears to positively affect intestinal flora as soluble fibre is a substrate for the production of short-chain fatty acids, which serve as a fuel source for colonic cells. Insoluble fibre stays intact, travels through your gut and helps pass food. It can help alleviate constipation and keep your digestive tract healthy: less stress on colon muscles = diverticula won’t form!
Back to the Basics
Eating whole foods instead of processed foods is the easiest way to get more fibre in your diet. Keep a water bottle with you and quench your thirst. Stay active. Most of all, if you need to defecate, don’t wait!