Diverticulosis Diet Recommendations

Our evolutionary diet consisted of high-fiber food with chunks of red meat and a smattering of fish thrown in every now and then.  Our ancestors grazed on berries, plums, fruits or whatever they ran into as they hunted and gathered for their next big meal.  Naturally, our stomachs evolved according to what they ate.  Because they relied mainly on what nature could provide in raw form, the modern-day stomachs in turn have an affinity for un-processed meals.  Anything tampered by humans through artificial means often leads to digestive disaster.

Such is the case with diverticulosis.  Diverticulosis is a digestive condition brought about by a huge shift from plant-based diet to processed food pyramid.  Wear and tear on colon (large intestine) walls over time may weaken some spots, and internal pressure in the large intestine caused by hard stools push out these weak spots to create pouches, or diverticula.  They are generally painless protrusions, until they become inflamed and infected – a condition known as diverticulitis.

Not surprisingly, diverticular disease is more common in industrialized countries like North America, Europe and Australia, where processed food came about at the same time as the start of industrialization.  Modern city life has aggravated urban dwellers’ access to leafy greens and starchy carbohydrates, because hectic lifestyles make it easier to reach for anything that can be popped in the oven for dinner.  While there is an emerging movement in the United States to go green and local with food and slow with cooking, the proliferation of convenience stores and fast food outlets is too hard to resist.

That path of least resistance leads to diverticular disease. The road to diverticulosis is lined with chips and dips, diet soda, quarter-pounders, frozen pizza and canned soups.  They are all certainly tasty because they are bad for the body.

Diverticulosis is seldom diagnosed because symptoms, if any, are general digestive discomforts like cramping in the abdomen, bloating and irritable bowels.  Only when it has progressed to diverticulitis does it present real danger.  Before that happens though, just fill your plate with anything plant-based (preferably organic).

The general rule of thumb to fight off the “bulges” is “the rougher, the better.”  Fiber comes in two forms:  soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber is what you get when you eat the apple without the skin; insoluble fiber is what you get if you only eat the apple skin.  The soluble type transforms into a jelly-like substance when it binds with water; the insoluble type only bulks up as it meets with water, and transforms very little.  The stomach can’t digest the rough parts of plant, so they cruise along the intestinal tract, sweeping up dirt along the way.  When they finally pause at the colon for elimination, they carry with them a lot of water, toxins and insoluble fat.  But because they have high water content, the stool is easier to pass and does not create internal pressure in the large intestine while it awaits evacuation.  So even if the colon has developed weak spots, it is less likely to bulge outwards.

Across all medical literature, treatment for diverticulosis points to switching to fiber-rich diet.  Intervention can be done through various means, from antibiotics to surgery, when the diverticula have become infected.  However, the only real long-term solution to diverticular disease is to “rough it” the way our ancestors did.  Plus, regular consumption of insoluble fiber (artichokes are the best) banishes muffin tops and flabby arms, and prolongs life.  Ask any octogenarian about what they eat, and chances are very good that they only eat what nature has prepared.  Fiber may not be as tasty as deep-fried potato and corn snacks, but the stomach won’t mind.