While it was rare before the 20th century, diverticular disease is now one of the most common health problems in the Western world. It’s a group of conditions that affect the digestive tract. Diverticulitis is the most serious type of diverticular disease.
Formations called diverticula are key components of diverticulitis. Diverticula are pouches that occur along your digestive tract, most often in your colon (large intestine).
These pouches form when weak spots in the intestinal wall balloon outward. When these pouches become inflamed, or bacteria gather in them and cause an infection, you have diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis often requires treatment because it typically causes symptoms and can lead to serious health complications.
Multiple factors seem to lead to diverticulitis:
A low-fiber diet: A lack of dietary fiber has long been suspected as a risk factor, but research has had conflicting results. Nevertheless, it’s still thought by some to be related to the onset of diverticulitis.
Heredity: Diverticulitis seems to have a hereditary link. A study of siblings and twins proposes that more than 50 percent of potential risk of diverticular disease comes from genetics.
Obesity: Being obese is a clear risk factor for diverticulitis. Research has shown that obisity raises the risk of diverticulitis and bleeding, but researchers aren’t sure of the reason behind this link .
Lack of physical exercise: It’s unclear if a sedentary lifestyle is a real risk factor. However, research suggests that exercise reduces the risk of diverticular disease. People who exercise less than 30 minutes a day appear to have increased risk.
Smoking: Research shows that smoking increases the risk of symptomatic and complicated diverticular disease.
Certain medications: Regular use of asprin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may raise your risk of diverticulitis. The use of opiates and steroids appears to raise your risk of perforation, a serious complication of diverticulitis.
Lack of vitamin D: One study found that people with complicated diverticulitis may have lower levels of vitamin D in their system than people with uncomplicated diverticulosis. This study suggests that vitamin D levels seem to be related to complications of the disease, although the exact reason is unclear.
Sex: In people age 50 and younger, diverticulitis appears to be slightly more common in men than women. In people older than 50, it seems slightly more common in women.
• Reduce lifestyle stressors and avoid internalizing stress; incorporate balance and relaxation into life; include deep breathing exercises and biofeedback devices. • Avoid constipation and maintain regular, healthy bowel function. • Stay well-hydrated with plenty of pure, filtered water. • Exercise regularly to build muscle tone; avoid a sedentary lifestyle. • Avoid use of laxatives and enemas. • Avoid tobacco in every form; avoid chronic caffeine consumption. • Properly manage any infections. • Use safe, organic cosmetics and household cleaners to avoid exposure to excess chemicals, which can signal inflammation and oxidative stress.
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Eat a low residue soft-food diet while symptomatic, including low-fiber and no seeds or nuts; avoid fibrous vegetables;drink pure, filtered water, and consider resting the bowels by consuming liquids • Avoid all grains including wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, bulgur, amaranth, quinoa, teff (crackers, cookies, bread and pastries). • Avoid dairy products. Goat’s milk and cheese from goat’s milk may be acceptable if no sensitivity to these foods exists. • Avoid all supplements that use black pepper extract, also called piperine or bioperine. • Avoid sugar and sweetened products. • Avoid carageenan-containing products since this can irritate the GI tract. • Avoid any known food allergies and food sensitivities. • Avoid any foods that cause diarrhea. • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in omega-3 fats; include olive oil, wild caught fatty, cold-water fish, grass-fed beef, nut butters, and omega-3 eggs. • Use herbs and spices high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric, rosemary, ginger and basil.
Chiropractic Care and Diverticulitis:
The nervous system controls digestive function from several different regions. The vagus nerve which courses out of the brain stem and runs near the atlas bone innervates all the major organs of digestion and functions to stimulate the digestive process. Other major areas controlling the pace of digestion include the sympathetic nerves coming out of the thoracic & lumbar regions and the sacral parasympathetic nerve fibers. Spinal misalignment in any of these regions can lead to neurological compromise and altered digestive function.