Diverticulosis is the presence of small pockets, or tics, in the wall of the colon, primarily of the sigmoid colon just above the rectum. The condition is uncommon in cultures and countries where diets feature lots of high fiber foods like grains, fruits, and vegetables. In industrialized countries, like the United States and Great Britain, our low fiber diet leads to poor bowel habits. This leads to an increase in pressure in the colonic wall as it works to remove the stool, and thus “tics” form along the colon lining.
By the age of 80, 2/3rds of Americans will have some degree of diverticulosis. However, many won’t even know it unless they have a colonoscopy. For those unlucky 10 to 20 percent of patients who have an “attack” of diverticulitis, the symptoms are easy to recognize: left lower quadrant abdominal pain and tenderness, fever, and an elevated white blood cell count on blood testing. A CT scan (specific x-ray of the intra-abdominal organs) may show inflammation around the colon.
Are there some foods like popcorn that lead to a diverticular attack? There is no convincing scientific evidence that foods like popcorn, seeds, or nuts become entrapped in the tics and lead to diverticulitis. Most dietitians and gastroenterologists agree though that a lack of fiber combined with increased fat can contribute to an overactive (spasmodic) colon. This increase in activity can lead to pressure build up within the colon, and subsequently results in pressure in any diverticuli.
Drink plenty of water, get a proper amount of fiber in your snacks and diet, and keep processed foods and alcohol in moderation.