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An information guide
Diverticulosis is a disease of the colon. It is called a 20th Century
disease as it is due to our eating more processed foods.
What is it?
Small pouch-like areas develop in the wall of the bowel. They range
in size from a few millimetres to several centimetres. The pouches
themselves do not cause any harm until they either become
inflamed (swollen) or start to bleed. Roughly a third of the
population has some evidence of diverticular disease and this
increases with age.
How is it caused?
It is thought to be caused by the low fibre (roughage) content of
your present diet and seems to improve if you increase the amount
of fibre you eat every day.
How will it affect me?
Most patients with Diverticulosis do not have any symptoms but
about 20% of patients develop signs of inflammation and another
15% suffer rectal bleeding. At other times you may suffer
occasional cramp-like abdominal pain and pass small stools like
rabbit droppings.
There have been several clinical studies to suggest that a worsening
of the disease can be prevented by eating extra fibre. It may take
some months for the fibre to cause an improvement.
You must remember that the disease has often been developing
slowly for over 20 or 30 years and it is unreasonable to expect a
recovery overnight with the high roughage regime.
Roughage helps you produce soft bulky stools and will lessen spasm
in the bowel resulting in fewer cramp-like pains. The following
gives you a guide to those foods with a high roughage content.
Foods with a high roughage content
Extra roughage must be taken into your normal diet because many
of todays foods are so refined that much of the natural fibre has
been removed during processing.
Good cereals to take, particularly in the mornings, to supplement
roughage include porridge, All Bran, Shredded Wheat, Alpen and
Choose breads with wholewheat flour, such as the granary loaf.
Avoid white bread or even the normal form of brown bread, as
both are over refined.
You should try to eat all types of fresh fruit, or dried fruit such as
raisins, prunes, figs or dates and also nuts.
Bran provides the cheapest and most natural way of adding
roughage to your diet. You can buy it from most health stores or
chemists. It is pleasant to take with milk, adding nuts and raisins to
make a breakfast cereal. Fruit juice can also be mixed in with the
bran to make it easier to eat. Bran can also be added to other
cereals, porridge and soups, and can even be added to normal flour
when making bread. The amount of bran you use should be
adjusted to make sure that you open
your bowels once a day producing a normal, soft stool.
What else can I do to help?
Other things you can do to improve the amount of roughage you
eat is to double or treble the average portion of vegetables with
your meals.
Do not peel apples, but eat the skin as well as the flesh of the apple.
Use wholemeal flour when cooking and, if you feel hungry in
between meals, nibble raw vegetables or fruit. The best type of
vegetables which contain roughage are celery, radish and
Try to get into the routine of eating a piece of fruit with every meal
and before going to bed at night.
It is important you eat the correct amount of roughage. You will
find the right quantity for yourself through trial and error. You can
then continue eating this way for the rest of your life.
Roughage is a natural food, so there is no risk in overdoing it. Apart
from improving your present bowel condition it may also prevent
other bowel disorders from occuring.
Bran is the safest and most effective way of keeping the bowels
open naturally, and it is also the cheapest.
General tips
The healthier you are generally, the better your body can prevent
any symptoms occuring. The best way you can help yourself is by
• do you need to loose weight?
• are you taking regular exercise?
• is your diet healthy?
• how do you relax and reduce the stress in your life?
• if your body does not seem normal, do you seek medical advice?
• if your bowel habit changes or you pass blood, do you seek
medical advice?
If you have any questions about your condition, please contact the
Colorectal Nurse Specialist:
Clinical Nurse Specialist contact numbers:
Fairfield Hospital, Bury
0161 778 3475
Royal Oldham Hospital
0161 778 5535/0161 627 8419
North Manchester General Hospital
0161 720 2805
If English is not your frst
language and you need help,
please contact the Ethnic Health
Team on 0161 627 8770
Jeżeli angielski nie jest twoim pierwszym językiem i potrzebujesz pomocy proszę skontaktować
się z załogą Ethnic Health pod numerem telefonu 0161 627 8770
For general enquiries please contact the Patient
Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0161 604 5897
For enquiries regarding clinic appointments, clinical care and
treatment please contact 0161 624 0420 and the Switchboard
Operator will put you through to the correct department / service
Date of publication: April 2005
Date of review: May 2014
Date of next review: May 2017
Ref: PI_SU_043
© The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
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