Nutritional Path to Wellness

Nourishing Mind, Body, & Spirit

Category: Gut

Diverticular Disease

Diverticula are small pouch-like little sacs in the colon. They are formed over time due to a low fiber diet and constipation leading to inflammation and diverticular disease. Diverticulosis is the condition of having diverticula. Diverticulitis is the inflammation of the diverticula.

Diverticulitis is accompanied by pain and fever. Since the colon is inflamed the bowel needs rest with only a clear liquid diet for a couple of days and then gradually reintroducing solids making sure to increase your fiber.

Anyone that has had diverticulitis does not want a recurrence and is hesitant about eating certain foods, namely nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn. Studies in recent years have refuted this. Without any good evidence, certain foodstuffs such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, and corn have long been implicated in the development of diverticulitis and are often advised against by physicians. They were thought to provoke diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding by causing luminal trauma. In a large prospective study of men without known diverticular disease, Strate et al found that nut, corn, and popcorn consumption did not increase the risk of diverticulosis, diverticulitis, or diverticular bleeding (Beckham & Whitlow, 2009; Strate et al, 2008).

A high fiber diet will prevent and heal diverticular disease. Just remember if you are increasing your diet you would need to increase your fluids as well. Avoid processed and refined foods. Eating whole foods with whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables will ensure a healthy gut.

Beckham, H. & Whitlow, C. B. (2009). The medical and nonoperative treatment of diverticulitis. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 22(3), 156 – 160.

Strate, L. L., Liu, Y. L., Syngal, S., Aldoori, W. H., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2008). Nut, corn, and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease. Journal of the American Medical Association. 300(8), 907–914.

Gut – Brain Connection

The gut has a lot of the same cells that are in the brain, specifically neurons and glial cells. The glial cells mop up the neurotransmitters that are produced from the communication between neurons. The glial cells can become inflamed due to an immune response. When the glial cells aren’t working properly the neurons continue to be stimulated by the neurotransmitters that are hanging around. This creates a lot of “noise” in the brain hindering brain function.

If you have an imbalance of organisms in your gut, then the byproducts produced by these organisms can elicit an immune response causing inflammation. The brain needs nutrients to optimally function. If the gut is too irritated or inflamed to absorb those nutrients, then the brain becomes impaired. It would then appear that you have psychological issues, learning difficulties, memory problems, fuzzy thinking, etc.

Certain kinds of “bugs” in your gut can also manipulate your food cravings. If you have fungus, for example, you may crave sugar. It’s an evolutionary mechanism of the microbiota so it can be fed what it needs to survive. The microorganisms residing in your gut have a direct influence on how you feel.

When you are stressed your gut tenses up due to the sympathetic nervous system response. You are unable to digest or absorb food very well. This deteriorates the ecology of the gut. We therefore need to take the whole person into account when looking at what’s going on. The kind of food are you feeding your microbiota will be very telling of what types of microbiota that are inhabiting your gut. Plus, are you living a stressful lifestyle and inhibiting digestion?

The size of the hippocampus has been directly correlated with blood sugar levels. Brain atrophy is shown in people with blood sugar levels of 90, even before your sugar is high enough to give a diagnoses of diabetes. Eighty percent of adults in the United States have fasting blood sugar of 90 or above. We are literally losing our minds over sugar.

So, what’s the best diet? Whole foods with complex carbohydrates. Three quarters of a cup of cultured vegetables has ten trillion healthy organisms. The plan is to feed the good “bugs” and starve the bad “bugs” shifting the population into a friendlier environment. And, of course, lifestyle modifications to reduce stress. A nutrition and lifestyle plan can be implemented to fit into your unique lifestyle.

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