Diverticular disease and diverticulitis are part of the same condition usually affecting the large intestine.
With diverticular disease, bulges and pockets can appear in the walls of a weakened large intestine, usually affecting the descending colon (down the left-hand side of the abdomen), but there is a condition called pan diverticular disease, where pockets can develop throughout the whole length of the large intestine and, in some cases, the small intestine, stomach and oesophagus too.
The risk of developing diverticular disease increases as we age, and many people are walking around completely oblivious to the fact that they may have diverticular pocketing until they have to have a routine abdominal scan and the diverticular pockets are picked up. Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms of diverticular disease whatsoever.
However, in some cases diverticular disease can cause pain, usually in the lower left side of the abdomen, loose stools, constipation, sometimes rectal bleeding and a high fever. If the latter two symptoms are in evidence, it can be an indication of diverticulitis, where the pockets have become inflamed or infected. This is a medical matter and a visit to the GP is recommended as soon as possible. If you have severe pain and bleeding, and you can’t contact your GP phone 111 immediately. Antibiotics may be required to control these symptoms as uncontrolled diverticulitis can lead to bowel perforation and sepsis, life-threatening conditions.
If you have been diagnosed with diverticular disease then ensuring you have a healthy, balance diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, salads, wholefoods, cereals, good quality fats and oils is imperative. Here’s a list of other simple things you can do to help manage the condition and prevent any flare-ups of diverticulitis:
Avoid constipation at all costs. Constipation will increase your risk of developing diverticular disease, as stool that is retained in the descending bowel for long periods can stretch the bowel in this area, increasing the risk of pockets forming, as well as causing waste matter to get trapped in the pockets with the potential to cause inflammation and infection.
To help keep your stools soft and avoid constipation, drink at least 2 litres of water daily. This is on top of normal tea and coffee.
Fibre helps to bulk out your stools and this helps maintain normal transit time in the bowel further reducing the risk of getting constipated. The recommended amount of fibre daily is 30gms, including vegetables, fruits, beans and pulses. You can also take a fibre supplement if you feel that you are short of the daily recommended amount. Try my Just For Tummies natural Fibre tablets made from sugar beet.
Avoid eating anything with pips and seeds in – ie tomatoes, kiwi fruit.
Eat at least 2 portions of oily fish weekly for their crucial Omega 3 natural anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t like oily fish, then take a daily fish oil supplement like my own Just For Tummies Omega 3 super-high-strength capsules. The Government and the Department of Health recommend taking a fish oil supplement if you’re not consuming oily fish.
Eat plenty of fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi and drink fermented drinks like kefir. If you don’t like the taste then take one of my Just For Tummies Live Bacteria probiotic capsules daily before meals.
Do some exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. This will help reduce episodes of constipation, as well as decrease your risk of getting bowel cancer.
Consider having colon hydrotherapy treatment at least every four months to help reduce constipation and to help keep the diverticular pockets clean.
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