Recently I learned something new about myself. Not anything extraordinary or shocking, but it does involve my health. Following a colonoscopy on Friday morning, a doctor discovered that I have diverticulosis.
What is diverticulosis?
In the lining of the colon or lower portion of the large intestine, small pouches or sacs which bulge outward can develop in weak spots of the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. When a person has several pouches, they have the condition called diverticulosis. Uncommon in younger adults, about 10 percent of Americans older than 40 have the condition. Diverticulosis becomes more common as people age and an estimated 50 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have the condition.
What causes diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is usually caused by chronically increased pressure and strain on the colon wall. A common contributing factor to the development of diverticulosis is constipation, something which we all have experienced at some point in our lives I imagine. Constipation may cause people to strain when passing stool during a bowel movement. The straining may cause increased pressure in the colon which contributes to the small herniations of the colon wall. Hereditary factors and lack of exercise may also be associated with diverticulosis.
I’ve learned that diverticulosis is rare in rural Asia and Africa where people regularly eat high-fiber diets. It is believed that a diet low in fiber is the primary contributing factor to the development of the condition. In Western industrialized countries, especially the United States, England, and Australia, we commonly do not eat enough foods rich in fiber.
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Digestive Health and Complications of a Low-Fat Diet: What is Diverticulosis?