Diverticular disease comes in two forms: diverticulosis, which happens when small pouches develop in the colon, and diverticulitis, which happens when these pouches become infected or inflamed.
In the United States, diverticulosis exists in about half of those over the age of 60. Ten to 25 percent of this group will develop diverticulitis, which can happen quite suddenly and without warning.
Though physicians aren’t entirely what causes diverticular problems, they occur most commonly in countries where low-fiber diets are widespread and are quite rare in countries where diets are rich in fiber from vegetables.
Foods high in fiber move through the digestive system much more easily and quickly than low fiber foods. Low fiber diets cause constipation, and constipation causes the muscles to strain to move stool. This straining increases pressure in the colon, which probably causes the bulging diverticula pouches.
It’s interesting to note that the early 1900s, when American doctors first observed diverticulitis, were also the time when the percentage of low-fiber, processed foods was in American diets.
For now, doctors and medical researchers both say that consuming sufficient fiber is the best way to prevent diverticular disease. Though upping fiber intake fiber won’t get rid of existing diverticula, it may prevent more from forming and it will definitely relieve constipation.
That means your mom was right—eating your vegetables does make you healthier!