Keep an eye on your symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you have diverticulosis, a condition characterized by microscopic pouches (diverticula) that grow in the lining of the colon, doctors used to advise you to avoid nuts and seeds, as well as popcorn. According to the theory, little pieces of food could get lodged in the pouches and induce irritation or infection, depending on the theory (which is called diverticulitis). We now know that the advice was incorrect.
There's no need to be concerned about eating nuts, seeds, or popcorn. There is no indication that people who eat a lot of such foods have a higher risk of diverticulitis than people who don't. " Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, a gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School and Anton R. Fried, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, agrees.
What else do we know about managing diverticular disease today? Here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind.
Don't be concerned about diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis is a frequent ailment, especially as we age. By the age of 60, it affects roughly 40% to 60% of people, and it usually starts in the lower-left part of the large intestine (the sigmoid colon). "We believe that increasing colon pressure drives diverticula out through weak places in the colon wall," explains Dr. Friedman. "Diverticulosis is usually asymptomatic, and unless you have had a colonoscopy or abdominal imaging, you won't know you have it."
Do inform your physician about any bleeding.
Rectal bleeding occurs in roughly 5% of people with diverticulosis when a tiny blood vessel in a diverticulum ruptures. Diverticular haemorrhage is the medical term for this. It is unknown what causes it. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines [a prominent class of pain treatments that includes aspirin] or blood thinners might cause bleeding. " According to Dr Friedman,
Even if the bleeding is small and stops on its own, contact your doctor to have it checked out. You should go to the emergency room if there is a lot of bleeding and you feel lightheaded or dizzy. You could lose a lot of blood, and you'll need to figure out what's causing the bleeding and get medical help. " Dr. Friedman has some suggestions.
Don't Strain in the Bathroom
Putting pressure on your diverticula (for example, if you're constipated) can cause one to burst (perforate) and become inflamed or diseased (diverticulitis). We're not sure what causes perforation. One possibility is constipation. " According to Dr. Friedman, "We do know that 4% to 15% of people with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis," says the expert. Do report pain.
Pain and cramps in the lower-left portion of the abdomen, as well as diarrhea, constipation, fever, nausea, and vomiting, are all signs of diverticulitis. If the pain persists or becomes unbearable, contact your doctor. In mild cases without a fever, antibiotics may not be necessary, Dr Friedman explains. However, if your diverticulitis is serious, you'll need to be taken to the hospital and treated for a few days with intravenous antibiotics and a liquid diet. Around a third of diverticulitis, cases are severe.
Maintain a healthy way of living.
A healthy lifestyle is beneficial to your gut. If you smoke, make an effort to quit and maintain a healthy weight. Diverticular problems are linked to smoking and obesity.
Diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding are linked to vigorous physical activity (such as running, swimming laps, or playing tennis or basketball). Any exercise that keeps your heart and lungs beating (like brisk walking) is thought to foster a diverse population of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which are linked to healthy ageing and lifespan.
Don't forget to eat well. Traditional Western diets, which are low in fiber and heavy in saturated fats, particularly red meat, have been linked to an increased risk of diverticulitis.
Is changing your diet going to help? The findings are contradictory. Dr. Friedman says, "We still think a high-fibre diet is vital because it's beneficial for heart health, reduces chronic inflammation, and makes the bowels flow more regularly, which helps to maintain gut health and relieve pressure against diverticula."
Drink plenty of water and eat 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber from beans, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds per day.
"Yes, nuts and seeds, which were long thought to cause diverticulitis, are really high in fiber and linked to a variety of health benefits," Dr. Friedman explains. "Your gut will appreciate you if you consume a handful of nuts and seeds every day."
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