All current literature recommends that the most effective way to prevent or manage diverticulosis is through the adoption of a diet high in fibre. Fibre is the indigestible portion of plant foods which aids in bulking up the stool (by forming the bulk or the roughage) to assist it in passing through the body to assure regular bowel movements.There are two type of fibre in the diet, soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which aid in the creation of a stool and prevent constipation.
1) Soluble fibre: dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft texture in the intestines. This fibre is the bodies main means of bulking the stool.
2) Insoluble fibre: passes through the gastro-intestinal tract virtually unchanged.
As plant materials are passed through the body, the removal of water, protein, fats, carbohydrates and essential nutrients occurs.
Upon entering the colon, all that remains to be digested is water. The colon should remove this remaining water, thus forming the stool.
If an individual is not eating sufficient amounts of fibre containing foods, a very dry, hard stool is produced. Stools of this consistency have difficulty moving through the bowel and require higher amounts of pressure to be passed through. Gradually the body becomes incapable of creating these high amounts of pressure, and begins to rely on the force of the movement of the abdominal walls to transport stools through the bowel. This is known as straining, and puts an excessive amount of pressure on the abdominal wall, resulting in the formation or aggravation of diverticula.
On the other hand, diets containing sufficient amount of fibre end in the production of a softer, bulkier stool, which is easily moved through the bowel without requiring high pressures to do so.
By ensuring an adequate amount of fibre in the diet it is possible to prevent the occurrence diverticular disease or to manage existing diverticular disease by reducing the required pressure for stools to pass through the bowel.
Current recommendations for fibre intake per day are:
1 At least 25 grams of fibre per day for adult women.
2 At least 30 grams of fibre per day for adult men.
3 28 grams of fibre per day for pregnant women over the age of eighteen.
4 27-30 grams of fibre per day for women who are breastfeeding.
Another requirement for the formation of a soft, bulky stool is an adequate fluid intake. This will ensure that the stool retains sufficient water to be soft and that the bowel is able to produce mucous. The secretion of mucous allows the stool to pass easily through the bowel rather than sticking to the wall of the colon.