Monday, October 28, 2013

Diverticula and Colon Cancer - Due to Insufficient Dietary Fiber

It’s a fact that diseases or illnesses of the large intestine such as colon cancer and diverticula can be caused by a diet low in fiber. For this reason, we shouldn’t be consuming foods just to satisfy our hunger, but also to prevent the risk of both illnesses. If you have the tendency to eat a lot of processed or refined foods for example, you should be aware that when foods are processed or refined, almost all of the natural fiber are removed. However, one dietary approach that we can take to reduce the risk of diverticula and colon cancer, is to incorporate sufficient dietary fiber in our daily diets.

What is Dietary Fiber
Fiber is a form of complex carbohydrate. A high fiber diet gives a person a feeling of fullness without added calories. Food rich in fiber includes starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grain breads, and cereals,  Because dietary fiber cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes, it passes down the intestinal tract and adds bulk to the stool which helps us to move our bowels. During the digestive process, it binds water  --- producing softer, bulkier stools, and aids in a more rapid movement of waste materials through the intestines. Thus, it plays an exceptional role in the digestive system.  It’s quite normal for individuals who frequently consume a diet rich in fiber to experience easy bowel movements.

If a person’s diet is low in fiber, during digestion, there won’t be enough fiber to bind water; hence the stools will be hard. The formation of hard stools can create extra squeezing work for the large intestine. Over time, this excessive amount of squeezing can weaken the walls of the large intestine, leading to diverticula. Most typically this occurs in the descending colon (which lies on the left side of the body). Diverticula can sometimes lead to lower GI bleeding and/or pain, classically in left lower quadrant(diverticulosis). Diverticula can also become inflamed (diverticulitis)

Because the bladder is located next to the descending colon, in severe diverticulosis, the diverticula can rapture and adhere to the bladder, even creating a communication between the two. This colovesical fistula can cause pneumaturia (air in the urine) and fecaluria ( feces in the urine).

Colon Cancer
Studies show that cancer of the large bowel (colon cancer) is very common in economically developed countries such as the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. On the contrary, colon cancer is relatively rare in less developed areas of Africa, where the diet is usually lower in fat and animal protein, and consists of high-fiber, unprocessed plant foods.

Although the recommended amount of fiber intake is about 25 to 30 grams per day. Most people in the United States eat only 10 to 12 grams of fiber daily. Simply increasing your daily intake of  fiber, or in other words, eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and cereals daily, can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer, diverticulitis, and even breast cancer.

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