Diverticular disease of the colon occurs when diverticula or pockets develop in the colon, especially the sigmoid colon. More than one third of people over 45 years of age, and two thirds of people over 85 years of age have some diverticular pockets.
Only about a quarter of people with diverticular pockets develop some symptoms of disease. A colonoscopy or barium enema is usually used to diagnose diverticular disease.
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Not enough fibre in the diet causes diverticular disease. A low fibre diet can lead to increased pressure inside the bowel and diverticula are caused by this pressure acting on the walls of the bowel. In a recent study in the United States, it was found that people who had a high fibre diet were much less likely to develop diverticular disease.
Diverticulitis is the most common form of diverticular disease. Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticula (pockets) become inflamed. The symptoms experienced are usually pain in the lower left abdomen together with feelings of nausea and loss of appetite. Bowel habits may be disturbed. The symptoms of diverticulitis settle once the inflammation has been controlled.
Papaya is a good home remedy for diverticulitis which is commonly used for helping in digestion. This fruit is the only one containing a natural digestive aid known as papain, which cleans the digestive track. Take a good ripe papaya from the market and you can use it in different forms like a juice, with honey, along with other fruit etc.
Eat foods high in fibre - cereals, fruits and vegetables
Chew food slowly and thoroughly.
Drink plenty of liquids, including fruit and vegetable juices, milk, and water
Avoid straining when going to the bathroom
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Aloe vera promotes the healing of inflamed areas. It also helps to prevent constipation. Drink 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice three times daily. It can be mixed with a cup of herbal tea if you wish.
Other herbs beneficial for diverticulitis include cayenne (capsicum), chamomile, goldenseal, papaya, red clover, and yarrow extract or tea.
Caution: Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, as ragweed allergy may result. Avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed. Do not take goldenseal for more than one week at a time, and do not use it during pregnancy. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or glaucoma, use it only under a doctor's supervision.
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To prevent diverticulosis, there’s one simple change you can make: Eat more fiber. It prevents constipation and the resultant straining to produce a bowel movement, which weakens the bowel walls and creates these painful pockets. The best sources of dietary fiber are whole grains, legumes, crisp vegetables, and fruits with the skin on.
Once diverticulosis begins to cause symptoms, however, you’ll want to avoid specific types of fiber in your diet. Insoluble fiber–the kind that does not dissolve in water–can still be beneficial, but it is also more prone to collect in the narrow necks of diverticuli. Examples of insoluble fiber are nuts, seeds, corn, and the skins of apples, cucumber, and tomatoes.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a soft gel and is less likely to plug up diverticuli. This type of fiber is found in oat bran, flaxseed meal, barley malt, gelatin, peeled apples, brown rice, and psyllium seed husks. Such fibers are an essential part of the diet to prevent recurrent attacks of diverticulitis.
Because poor digestion aggravates symptoms, chew your food thoroughly. Some people find it very helpful to supplement their diets with digestive enzymes, such as bromelain from pineapple stem and papain from papaya (follow manufacturer’s recommended dosages). Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the digestive tract, so avoid them whenever possible.
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