There is some recent news about diverticulitis or diverticulosis, which is a condition wherein small pouches appear in the large intestine and has been graphically likened to weakened portions of a tyre that protrude outwards under pressure.
An article in the New York Times explains the appearance of this condition which has only happened in modern times. It says:
“People living in industrialized countries have paid some hefty health-related prices for their relatively affluent lives, like high rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis. But there is one extremely common health problem linked to affluence that few are aware of, unless they suddenly become seriously ill. That problem is diverticulosis, out-pouchings in the large intestine resembling weakened areas in tire tubes.”
“Though common in well-developed countries, diverticular disease is virtually unknown in the poorer countries of Asia and Africa, where people subsist mainly on high-fiber vegetable-rich diets. Diverticulosis was unknown in this country too until the early 1900’s, when Americans began moving away from fresh-from-the-earth high-fiber foods and instead adopted diets replete with processed foods made from refined flour lacking the fibrous bran in whole grains.”
“As American diets became richer in meats, fat, sugar, and highly refined processed foods, the plates had less and less room for fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And despite years of efforts to get people to eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables for their overall health, only about a third of Americans have taken the advice.”
“Both the soluble fibers found in foods like oats and many fruits and the insoluble ones in whole wheat, corn and virtually all plant foods — helps to keep the stool soft and easy to eliminate. Diets lacking in adequate fiber often result in hard stools and constipation, prompting those afflicted to exert excess pressure on the colon when attempting a bowel movement. It is this pressure, repeated over and over through the years, that is believed to be the cause of diverticular pouches.”
The article explains what is known about this condition in terms of avoidance and some recently revised dietary advice from the experts regarding the consumption of nuts and seeds which were thought to be liable to get caught up in the tiny pouches and lead to irritation and inflammation. On this aspect the article says:
“Let me start with some good news for the many millions of people who have been told that they have diverticulosis and should avoid eating foods containing small seeds and that they should never eat nuts.”
“It turns out that this longstanding bit of medical wisdom was based on virtually no scientific evidence, just guesswork, and unless you have already developed inflamed or infected diverticula, your diet need not be so restricted, most experts say.”
“You no longer have to seed tomatoes, you can enjoy strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and you can even eat nuts as long as you chew them thoroughly.”
So the consensus of expert opinion about diverticulitis seems to be that we should all eat more fruit and vegetables, and you can’t have too much fibre in your diet, no matter what kind it is.