About 10 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. This is a condition where the colon (large intestines) develops small pockets that bulge outward through weak spots, similar to a hernia. About half of all people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis. The pockets form when pressure inside the intestines build up, usually because of constipation. This condition is called Diverticular Disease.
Symptoms of diverticulosis are sometimes never experienced. Although they may include mild cramps, bloating, and constipation. Other disorders, which mimic these symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach ulcers. These symptoms do not always mean a person has diverticulosis.
When these pockets become infected or inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. The most common symptom of diverticulitis is abdominal pain or tenderness around the left side (quadrant) of the lower abdomen. Diverticulitis can lead to bleeding, infections, perforations, tears, or blockages. These complications always require treatment to prevent them from progressing and causing serious illness. If infection occurs, the severity of symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping, and constipation. It is not known how infection can occur, but it may begin when stool or bacteria are caught in these pockets. An attack of diverticulitis can develop suddenly and without warning.
The most likely cause of diverticulosis is a low-fiber diet because it increases constipation and pressure inside the large intestine. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet may reduce symptoms of diverticulosis and prevent complications such as diverticulitis.
Other causes you should consider are bowel habits, related pain, diet and medications. This is also considered a stress-related disorder. It is known that stress and smoking make symptoms worse.
Dietary fiber is an important part of our daily diet. Although most fiber is not digested, it gives us many important and healthy benefits. Fiber retains water, which allows for softer and bulkier stools, lowers pressure inside the intestines so that bowel contents can move through easily, which in turn prevents constipation and hemorrhoids Fiber binds with cholesterol and eliminates this substance from the body. A high-fiber diet can also reduce colon cancer risk as well as keep our digestive tract clean. The recommended amount of fiber is 25 to 35 grams each day.
You can increase your fiber intake by eating these foods: whole grain breads and cereals such as whole-wheat bread, cooked brown rice, bran cereal, plain, cooked oatmeal, cooked white rice; fruits like apples, pears, tangerines and peaches; vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, squash and tomatoes; and starchy vegetables like kidney beans, baked beans, lima beans and potatoes.
Foods such as nuts, popcorn hulls, and seeds including sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame should be avoided.
In some people, the seeds in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries and poppy seeds, may cause a problem.
People differ in the amounts and types of foods they can eat. Decisions about diet should be made based on what works best for each person. Keeping a food diary may help identify individual culprits in your diet.
Alfalfa is a great source of Vitamin K, which is often deficient in people with intestinal disorders. 2,000 mg in capsules or tincture is recommended.
Aloe Vera promotes the healing of inflamed areas. Drink 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice, 3 times a day. It can be mixed with 1/2 a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile.
Pau D'arco is an antibacterial and cleansing herb. Drink two cups of this herb as tea, daily or as a tincture.
Green drinks or whole green food drinks contain chlorophyll and are extremely beneficial for this condition.
To relieve pain, massage the left side (quadrant) of the lower abdomen. Stand up and do gentle stretching exercises.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
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