Presence of small pouches called diverticulum in the lining of the large intestine or colon is known as diverticulosis. It usually occurs in older adults. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of all people above the age of 60 have diverticulosis. However, most people with diverticulosis are unaware of the condition, which is usually diagnosed during medical checkups.
Symptoms develop in about a quarter of people with diverticulosis, especially when the diverticulum becomes inflamed. Lower abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal cramp, constipation and bloating are common symptoms of diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is more common in people on low fiber diet. A fiber deficient diet leads to constipation. Pressure applied to the colon while passing hardened stool damages the colon wall. Weak spots develop in the colon wall, where the colon lining bulges out to form small pouches. Diverticulosis can be treated naturally with dietary modifications. However, complicated diverticulitis requires treatment with oral or intravenous antibiotics. Surgery is sometimes needed to treat the condition.
How to Treat Diverticulosis Naturally
High Fiber Diet
Increasing fiber intake is considered the best option for treating diverticulosis naturally. By easing bowel movement, dietary fiber helps to treat constipation. When soft bowel content passes through the colon, it exerts less pressure on the colon wall. People with diverticulosis should try to consume about 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Most of the daily fiber requirement can be met by consuming a diet rich in plant products.A predominantly vegetarian diet containing whole grain cereals, beans, fruits with skin, leafy green vegetables, peas, cruciferous vegetables and other vegetables, preferably with skin are the sources of dietary fiber. Although there is not scientific evidence to support the harmful effect of seeds and nuts in triggering the symptoms of diverticulosis, to avoid the risk of seeds and nuts entering the diverticulum, sometimes they are avoided by diverticulosis patients.
If you cannot get sufficient fiber from diet alone, consider taking a fiber supplement such as psyllium seed husk or methylcellulose. Fiber supplements can be taken up to three times a day. Fiber products absorb water to form a gelatinous mass that helps to transport wastes through the colon. However, if sufficient water is not present in the abdomen, by absorbing the small fluid content in the stomach, it may worsen constipation. To avoid constipation, fiber supplements should be taken with at least a full glass of water.
Omega-3 fattyacids present in fish oil are beneficial for people suffering from diverticulosis. The anti-inflammatory effect of the essential fats helps to reduce the inflammation of the colon lining. People with diverticulosis can take about 1 gram of fish oil supplement once or twice daily. However, fish oil supplement should not be taken with fiber supplements. Fiber may reduce absorption of essential fatty acids.
Flaxseed oil is a source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, flaxseed can help to alleviate the symptoms of diverticulosis.
Studies suggest that regular physical activities can provide relief from diverticulosis. People with diverticulosis should reserve at least 30 minutes each day for moderate intensity aerobic exercises.