Did You Know?
Diverticulosis and diverticulitis emerged in the early 1900s in the United States of America. This was the time when steel-rolling mills were introduced and processed foods became a part of the American diet.
The terms diverticulosis and diverticulitis are closely associated, however, they are not the same. Diverticulosis is when a person has one or multiple diverticula in their digestive tract. Diverticula are small bulging sacs that are commonly formed in the large intestine. However, they may also occur in the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine. Most of the time, these sacs do not cause any problematic symptoms and this is when this condition is known as diverticulosis.
Diverticulitis, on the other hand, occurs when these pouches become irritated or inflamed due to an infection. Here, a person may experience various symptoms including abdominal pain (usually on the lower left side), nausea, fever, change in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), chills, cramping, and rarely, diverticular bleeding that is indicated by blood in stool or bleeding from rectum.
The treatment for this disease depends upon the severity of the condition. If the symptoms are mild in nature, usually home treatment is advised by the doctor. This involves certain lifestyle changes including alteration in the diet, physical activities, and more. The following section explains the same in details. However, note that these natural treatment methods are not applicable to serious cases of diverticulitis. Treatment under a trusted medical expert is a must. In fact, even when it comes to the mild cases, consultation with a healthcare specialist is advised.
Natural Ways to Treat Diverticulitis
Various speculations have been a part of what causes this disease in some people and not the others. Some theories blame aging, while others point at the absence of adequate amount of fiber in the diet. However, a concrete reason has not been established yet, with various experts still researching on the same in the hope of finding a breakthrough. Meanwhile, the following points will help you understand the best lifestyle remedies that can help you deal (or prevent) this problem in the long run.
The amount of fiber you consume plays a crucial role in your bowel health. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), although, for more than half a decade, a low-fiber diet was associated with diverticulosis and diverticulitis, recent research concludes that a low-fiber diet was not the causal factor of this disease. In fact, it is observed that a "high-fiber diet and more frequent bowel movements may be linked to an increased rather than decreased chance of diverticula".
When dealing with diverticulitis, experts suggest to have a low-fiber or liquid diet to prevent stress on the digestive tract. Once the infection is healed, it is suggested to slowly increase the amount of fiber in the diet, so as to avoid the occurrence of symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and gas. It is recommended to get in touch with a healthcare expert for guidance regarding the pace and amount of fiber intake in the diet.
The bowel needs ample amount of rest to heal from the infection, which is why a low-fiber diet, or liquid diet is advised during the initial few days. Another way to help your bowel heal, is to respond to its urges to visit the loo, without any delay. Holding the need to excrete feces makes the stool hard and dry, thereby making it difficult to pass through. This leads to constipation wherein the extra force and pressure needs to be applied to help the stool exit the body. This leads to added stress on the colon.
Fiber is essential for smooth digestion as it helps in making the stool soft and easy to pass. Experts advise to eat adequate amount of fiber for this reason. Consumption of liquids is also very helpful in the process, as it is only due to an adequate amount of liquid intake that the fiber becomes soft. In the absence of liquids, eating too much fiber may cause constipation.
Another way to prevent or control the ill effects of this condition is by managing one's weight. In fact, studies have found association between diverticulitis and obesity. Also, lack of physical activity and stress are linked with this condition. Becoming a part of the weight management program will give you more than one benefit. Once your symptoms are stable, it would be helpful in getting involved in a 30-minute exercise routine everyday. Physical activities not only help reduce weight but also help reduce stress, which is another causal factor of this disease.
According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), "Some studies have focused on the role of decreased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in causing decreased relaxation and increased spasms of the colon muscle ... However, more studies are needed in this area." Experts suggest that exercising increases the serotonin levels in the body, which implies that it can also aid in treating/preventing diverticulitis.
Probiotics are the live bacteria that play a crucial role in a healthy digestive tract. Diverticulitis occurs in the colon when there is an imbalance in the healthy bacteria and the disease-causing bacteria. It is believed that this may cause chronic inflammation and infection in the colon. Consumption of probiotics helps increase the amount of healthy bacteria that aids in the healing of the problematic symptoms of this disease. Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt, but may also be consumed in the form of supplements. If need be, speak to your physician for the brand you should opt for.
Perhaps you would want to confirm with your healthcare specialist before opting for this alternative treatment, but many people with this disease have benefited from the consumption of aloe vera juice or supplements. This plant has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that help in healing the painful symptoms of this disease.
Garlic is an excellent antibiotic and a great natural ingredient to aid digestion. Its healing properties help in not only treating diverticulitis but also preventing it from recurring. It is suggested to have two to three cloves of garlic in its raw form to avail its natural benefits completely. Confirm with your healthcare specialist regarding its supplements and their usage.
You must avoid the consumption of alcohol and caffeine completely. Smoking is also linked with the onset of this disease, so it would be best to give up this habit as well. Make sure that you are leading a healthy and active lifestyle that includes not only a nutritional diet but also a diet that is friendly with your digestive tract. In any case, diverticulitis is not a disease that can be treated at home without the guidance of a medical expert. Remember, the actual condition of the disease needs to be monitored beforehand through physical examination and diagnostic tests. Mild cases of this disease can be treated at home with the aforementioned ways, but not without the intervention of a physician.
Disclaimer: This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice. Kindly consult your physician before opting for any of the self-care measures listed above.