Diverticular disease is the general term used to describe a number of different disorders that affect the intestinal tract. A diverticulum is a sac-like out pouch found on any part of the gastrointestinal tract - but most common, by far, in the large intestine, especially along the last section, just before the rectum.
The presence of these pouches is called diverticulosis which frequently develops after middle age. If the diverticula become inflamed, which usually only happens when food becomes trapped in a pouch, then the condition is known as diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis is said to have no symptoms but disruptions to the digestive system, including painful cramps, diarrhoea and constipation, have all been linked to the problem. Severe abdominal pain and fever are all signs of diverticulitis.
A liquid diet and rest can treat mild cases of this disease but some 20% of sufferers do not improve and are subsequently operated on. Of those under the age of 50 who do need surgery, men outnumber women three to one.
Diverticular disease is the usually the result of a long, slow build-up of dietary mucous against the walls of the intestine. Over time, these deposits solidify, narrowing the passage through which the faeces must pass.
The intestine responds by trying to expand to maintain normal functioning and it is in the weakened areas of the intestinal walls that the first diverticular pouches appear.
If left untreated, diverticulitis can lead to more serious even carcinogenic conditions. This is because, after digestion, the residue of bile salts can react with any putrefying food, especially meat, which has become trapped in the pouches to create cancer-causing metabolites. This is a risk, not an unavoidable prognosis but it highlights the importance of tackling the root cause of any digestive disturbance.NATURAL HEALING
Avoid whole nuts and seeds as these can penetrate the pouches and lead to further discomfort and infection. Instead, eat more pineapple and papaya - both of which contain potent digestive enzymes that will help reduce inflammation. This is one condition where it is crucial to treat the underlying cause.
Avoid all the mucous-forming foods, including wheat, rye and dairy products, since these will exacerbate the problem. Instead, look for fibre from chickpea or soya flours, fruit and vegetables and from amaranth, oat bran, millet and spelt and sprouted grains and legumes.
Consuming plenty of seedless fruits and vegetables will dissolve the build-up of waste matter without resorting to more invasive techniques such as colonic irrigation, where, if the intestinal wall has been damaged, there could be further risks.
Eat little and often and do not skip breakfast.
Althougha high fibre diet is required it must be the right type of fibre. Psyllium husks are recommended as they can help alleviate the symptoms but do not attack the cause. Drink two large glasses of mineral water with psyllium husks.
Correcting the intestinal flora balance
Prebiotic and probiotic foods are important to correct the balance of intestinal flora. Antibacterial mouthwashes and unnatural toothpastes, excess sugar and refined foods, intolerance to certain components in foods and medications can all upset this balance and lead to inflammation and intestinal overgrowths of yeast and pathogenic bacteria which then crowds out the beneficial bacteria that reside in the guts.
Prebiotic foods containing carbohydrates such as inulin encourages a healthy intestinal environment to benefit probiotic intestinal flora. Prebiotic is a fairly recently coined name to refer to food components that support the growth of certain kinds of bacteria in the colon (large intestine).
Oligosaccharides, resistant starch and fermentable fibre feeds these bacteria who have an important influence on the rest of the body.
The human digestive system has a hard time breaking down many of these carbohydrates. Almost 90% escapes digestion in the small intestine and reaches the colon where it performs a different function: that of a prebiotic. The bacteria that feed on fermentable carbohydrate produce many beneficial substances, including short-chain fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin K2 and certain B vitamins. They also promote further absorption of some minerals that have escaped the small intestine, including calcium and magnesium and vitamin K2 is vital for the use of vitamin D in the body.
Prebiotic foods that feed the existing beneficial bacteria
Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria and come from the fermentation process that the food has been allowed to undergo. During and after any treatment with antibiotics, it is advisable to include more probiotic foods in the daily diet to replenish the friendly bacteria that are wiped out by antibiotics. It is advisable to consume probiotics at least an hour before other foods to enable enough beneficial bacteria to survive and pass through the strong stomach acids.
Probiotic foods that contain beneficial bacteria
Yoghurt (with live cultures)
Try a juicing regimen: Carrot and apple juice in the mornings, carrot and celery in the evenings and a combination of carrot, beetroot and cucumber through out the day. An excellent tip for maintaining good digestive health for everyone is to drink a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon when you get up in the mornings. See the Raw Juice Therapy page.
SPROUTS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO NUTS AND SEEDS
Considered as wonder foods. They rank as the freshest and most nutritious of all foods available to the human diet. By a process of natural transmutation, sprouted food acquires vastly improved digestibility and nutritional qualities when compared to non-sprouted embryo from which it derives. Sprouted foods have been part of the diet of many ancient races for thousands of years. Even to this day, the Chinese retain their fame for delicious mung bean sprouts. Sprouted legumes and grains provide all the essential phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. They should form a vital component of the diet. Sprouting requires no constant care but only a daily rinsing with water. See the Micro Diet Sprouts page
NATURE CURES DIVERTICULITISStay away from substances that can damage the colon further such as sugar, alcohol, coffee, medications, artificial additives such as aspartame, pesticides and household and cosmetic toxins.
Visit the Cleanse and Detoxify page to try that regime first which can clear the body of toxins and infection.
Drink one litre of bottled mineral water per day to avoid chemicals additives such as fluoride and chlorine and provide more of the essential minerals the body needs. One glass should be consumed just before sleeping to help the body eliminate waste and toxins from the body and the brain.
Meat and eggs (Three times a week)
Fish (Three times a week)
Anchovies, bloater fish, carp, cod, eel, halibut, herring, hilsa fish, kipper, mackerel, octopus, pilchards, salmon, sardines, shellfish, sprats, squid, swordfish, trout, tuna (fresh only) and whitebait and all other oily fish. Anchovies are high in sodium so not advised for those with high blood pressure. Deep sea fish and bottom dwelling shellfish can be contaminated with mercury so it is advisable to consume these with some algae, coriander and other green leafy vegetables or sulphur-rich foods which can chelate (bind to) mercury and eliminate it from the body.
Fibre (At least one every day)
Amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa and teff. Consume one tablespoon of psyllium husks per day in a large glass of water or sprinkled onto meals as it has powerful properties that can support digestion and excretory processes and will work within two days to fix many colon and digestive issues.
Vegetables (A selection of at least four colours per day meaning all have been eaten at least once a fortnight)
Algae, alfalfa, artichoke, ashitaba, asparagus, aubergine, beetroot, bell peppers (all colours), broccoli, carrot, celery, chicory, collard greens, courgettes, cress, cucumber, daikon, garlic, kelp, marrow, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, seaweed and spinach, Swede, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips and watercress. Algae, such as chlorella and spirulina, contain many important nutrients and minerals often lacking in land-based crops. Take one tablespoon of one of them per day. Also consume three or four chopped garlic cloves per day. Let them and other allicin-producing plants, such as chives, leeks, onions and spring onions, stand for ten minutes to allow for the process, that produces allicin in these plants when they are damaged, to take place. Allicin has many powerful properties that benefit the health.
NOTE: Avoid tomato seeds.
Legumes (Three times a week)
Fruit (A selection of 2 or 3 colours per day meaning all have been eaten at least once a fortnight)
Apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, berries, cherries, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, grapefruit, grapes (black or red), mango, maqui berries, mosambi juice, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranate, tangerines and watermelon.
NOTE: Avoid fruit with small seeds such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.
NOTE: grapefruit can interact with many medications.
Dried Fruit (As snacks or added to meals daily. Best eaten with a handful of nuts and seeds)
Juice (Pure, additive free, unsweetened, preferably home-made - daily as often as required)
Beetroot (raw), carrot, coconut water, cranberry, elderberry, grape, lemon, lime, mango, mosambi, nasturtium (freshly pressed), orange, papaya, pineapple, pomegranate and tangerine. See also Raw Juice Therapy for many raw juicing recipes.
Seeds (Grind into a fine powder and added to meals daily)
Flaxseeds, hemp, nasturtium, poppy, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and watermelon. Hempseeds provide the correct balance of omega-6 (inflammatory) to omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids and should be consumed daily. A handful of pumpkin seeds can be sprinkled on any dish or in sandwiches daily and add many important nutrients.
Nuts (Grind to a fine powder and add to meals daily. Best consumed with fresh or dried fruits to obtain the correct balance of vitamin C and E)
Almonds (five per day), brazil nuts (2 per week unless excessive sweating, through exercise or fever, has taken place, then eat 2 per day, cashews, chestnuts, coconut, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts (5 per day).
NOTE: Using cold-pressed nut and seeds oils provides a way to gain the healthy nutrients in these foods.
Sprouts(See the Micro-diet Sprouting page to find out how to grow your own then add to meals and snacks daily)
Alfalfa, almond, amaranth, barley, broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, chickpea, corn, hazelnut, fenugreek, flaxseeds, kamut, leek, lemon grass, lentil, lettuce, milk thistle, mizuna, mung beans, mustard, oat, onion, pea, peanut, radish, rice, rocket, rye, quinoa, sesame, spinach, spring onions, sunflower, turnip and watercress.
Common Herbs(To be consumed as often as possible daily in meals or as teas)
Angelica pubescens, borage, burdock root, black seed, cnidium monniera seeds, common stinging nettles, damiana leaves, dandelion, devil's claw, drumstick, elecampane, false unicorn, golden seal, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, horsetail, hydrangea, Japanese or Chinese knotweed, jasmine, kudzu root extract, huang lian, lavender, liquorice root, lobelia, maca root, milk thistle, motherwort, noni, oatstraw, pan pien pien, passion flower, periwinkle, pine needles, Queen of the meadow, red clover, rock-rose flowers, saffron, saw palmetto, schizandra, scutellaria, slippery elm, yellow dock root, valerian, and wild strawberry leaf.
Oils (Cold-pressed only and used to cook with or dress vegetables and salads, especially with foods that contain fat-soluble nutrients, such as carotene, to enable absorption)
Coconut oil, flaxseed, grape seed, coconut oil, olive, rapeseed and a blend of sesame and rice bran oils. Also take one capsule of cod liver or krill oil daily, especially during the winter months between October and April in the Northern hemisphere.
Derivatives (To be consumed and used as desired on a daily basis)
Aloe vera juice, anise seed tea, barley grass (powder or juice), bergamot tea, black strap molasses, brewer's yeast, brine pickles, chamomile tea, green tea, honey, miso, peppermint tea, pine needle tea, tea and tofu. Barley grass is one of the rare plants to contain vitamin B12 so is a useful addition to the diet of those that limit meat intake.
At least one (and ideally many more) natural foods and derivatives should be consumed each day from each of the categories above. Pick one of the six colours of fruit and vegetables to consume daily. Yellow/orange, white, red, green, black/blue/purple and cream/brown. Nature has kindly colour coded natural food for us and each colour provides specific nutrients and minerals in the right balances which are required daily. At least one iron rich green leafy vegetable or herb should be consumed daily.
If appetite does not allow enough consumption, juice them or make teas by steeping them in hot water for 20 minutes, then strain and drink immediately to gain the nutrients without the bulk. Teas can be gently reheated and honey and lemon added to make them more palatable and to add additional beneficial nutrients. See the Nature's Colour Codes page.
NOTE Non-heme iron is found in tea and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. However, tea and green leafy vegetables also contain oxalates that block the absorption of iron. To assist the body in the absorption of non-heme iron eat a couple of strawberries, a kiwi fruit or some orange, tangerine or mango at the same time.
NOTE: To benefit from foods containing fat-soluble nutrients, such as the carotenoids in carrots and tomatoes, always eat together with oily foods like rapeseed oil, olive oil, fish, nut or other seed oils or avocado because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are only absorbed into the body along with fats and can then assist with the manufacture of the essential vitamin A nutrient.
NOTE: Motherwort may be habit forming.
CAUTION: Many herbs are powerful and can react with medications. Always check before taking at the same time as any drugs.
NOTE: Some nutritional yeasts, especially brewer’s yeast, can also interact with medications. Those who are on Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor antidepressants (MAOIs) medication are especially at risk. It is also best avoided by those carrying the herpes virus as it can induce a attack.
Try to avoid refined and processed foods, any foods with additives such as aspartame, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugar, table salt (use Himalayan pink crystals or unrefined sea salt), white flour and white rice (choose whole grains and brown or wild rice).
Only eat the following fruit and vegetables if they are organic because of the risk of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides:
"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. Its intention is solely educational. If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional. Nature Cures does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information provided here or the outcome of using it.
© Copyright 2010 Nature Cures. All rights reserved.