What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a condition that many people can be diagnosed with following a colonoscopy. Digestive symptoms like abdominal pain, constipation and bloating may be early symptoms of this condition and prompt an investigation such as a colonoscopy.

The colon is an approximately 150cm tube that makes up the last part of the intestines. Most of the nutrients we eat get absorbed in the stomach and small intestines. Undigested material enters the colon and travels through the tube absorbing water and leading to production of solid stool matter.

If waste material passing through the colon is hard, it can put pressure on walls of the intestine resulting in the formation of small pouches called diverticulae. Occasionally these pouches may become infected leading to diverticulitis which means inflammation in the colon.

Diverticulitis is preventable

Approximately 50% of people will have diverticular by the age of 50 and the main risks are being obese, smoking, leading a stressful life and eating a low fibre diet. Pain is usually left sided and may be made worse by eating and relieved by passing wind.

If there is inflammation occurring in the system, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting may also occur. One third of patients who have diverticulitis may develop complications including the development of abscess and narrowing of the bowel.

Diverticular disease is preventable. The best way to avoid it is to eat a high fibre diet and avoid constipation. Many people eat much less than the recommended daily fibre intake and need to boost their diet with fruit and vegetables, grains like spelt and quinoa, oat bran, beans and lentils which will help support a healthy gut microbiome. A person can have unfriendly gut bacteria that can cause inflammation – this is particularly exacerbated by the stress hormone, cortisol which can impact the makeup of the gut bacteria.

What helps restore the healthy gut bacteria?

I recommend bone broth which is highly nutritious and has antibacterial capabilities. It is very useful if appetite is affected due to inflammation. Probiotics are also very important especially if there is any history of taking antibiotics or steroids. Good quality fish oils are hugely anti-inflammatory and are best taken in liquid form for a faster healing effect.

Magnesium helps with the transit of food and is a muscle relaxant so key in terms of helping to avoid constipation. Magnesium citrate in a powdered form can be made into a drink which is easily absorbed and helps with digestive symptoms like sluggish system and slow transit of food. It is also known as nature’s anti-stress mineral so important for supporting the nervous system.

Aloe Vera juice is a rich source of antioxidants and may be used as a natural laxative also. It is available with other key ingredients included as a digestive support including chamomile and peppermint oil.

The main place to start is with diet choices and add in supplement supports for healing and reducing inflammation.

Blog post written by Davina Dowling, Nutritional Therapist

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