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High Fiber Diets Can't Prevent Diverticulosis



Fiber can do some amazing things for the body, but it can't prevent diverticulosis. According to research published in the journal Gastroenterology, people who eat lots of fiber may still be susceptible to this common gastrointestinal disease.

Medical scientists from the University of South Carolina at Chapel Hill made the discovery when they investigated whether diets and sedentary lifestyle increased the risk for diverticulosis. They selected 2104 volunteers who underwent outpatient colonoscopies between 1998 - 2010. The test subjects, who ranged from 30 years - 80 years of age, were interviewed to assess their diet and physical activity levels.

The researchers looked at low fiber and high fat diets as well as levels of physical activity. The data was validated instrumentality so as to minimize the likelihood of inaccurate results.

Through the assessment, the team learned that high fiber diets didn't provide any extra benefit against diverticulosis. The number of people with the condition was correlated with age i.e. the older the volunteers, greater were the chances they had diverticulosis.

Investigators also noted that volunteers who had more than 15 bowel movements per week were 70% more likely to suffer from diverticulosis. In fact, the more fiber the volunteers consumed, the greater the risk for the disease.

On the other hand, found no relationship between either physical inactivity or consumption of red meat and diverticulosis. In other words, sedentary people who liked to eat a lot of red meat were not at significant risk for developing diverticulosis.

Diverticulosis is a medical condition characterized by weakening of the muscles in the large intestine. Structural changes to the colon causes pouches to form and affected individuals will pass stool more frequently than normal. Thus it shouldn't really come as a suprise that high fiber diets would only aggravate diverticulosis. (By the way, diverticulosis shouldn't be confused with "diverticulitis" which is the result of inflamed pouches in the large intestine).  

Based on the evidence, lead researcher Robert S. Sandler and his colleagues concluded:"A high fiber diet and increased frequency of bowel movements are associated with greater, not lower, prevalence of diverticulosis."

This makes sense if you think about it: Insoluble fiber, or "roughage", helps the body to pass stool more easily. Therefore people who are suffering from a condition that increases the frequency of their bowel movements, eating foods that are known to facilitate the passage of bowel, would seem to only make the problem worse.


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Article Sources 

Peery, A., Barrett, P., Park, D., Rogers, A., Galanko, J., Martin, C., & Sandler, R. (2011). A High-Fiber Diet Does Not Protect Against Asymptomatic Diverticulosis Gastroenterology DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2011.10.035

Diverticulosis - wikipedia.

Diverticulitis - wikipedia.


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