Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ever hear of Diverticulitis?

A little over two years ago, at age 39, my husband was diagnosed with Diverticulitis (Diver for the unfortunate ones in the know).  Diverticulosis is a disease in the Large Intestine/Colon when small pouches called diverticuli are formed.  These diverticuli can get infected and the disease is then known as Diverticulitis.  That’s when things really hurt and it becomes extremely dangerous.  A liquid diet and very strong antibiotics are prescribed and a diet low in fiber is begun.  For over two years we lived with multiple bouts of infections, antibiotics, and the stupid liquid and low fiber diet.  We completely missed our 10th wedding anniversary because he was sick in bed.  The first doctor that ever diagnosed him said that he would need surgery.  Surgery?    

As the disease worsened, we started looking into the why's and how's.  What causes it and most importantly can it be treated naturally, with diet and without surgery?  We discovered a ton of information on the topic but no real answers.  One diet, which claimed to be the cure and only cost $39.99, was a bit too restrictive and vague, but we happily paid the fee to find out if it would work.  It theorized that Diver comes from “an allergy” to the mixtures of certain food categories – proteins & fats, foods high in water (vegetables), and starch foods (carbs).  Basically it said to never have all 3 together, just 2 categories at a time and make sure that there is a 4 hour window in between meals so there is no chance of the different enzymes to intermingle.  It also said to never drink while you are eating but we’ll talk about that in a different post!

The research definitely pointed to a western diet as the culprit.  We discovered many possible causes – milk, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.  And soda.  My husband had been a heavy soda drinker since he was a child and the research we discovered stated that soda can weaken the colon, specifically the acids and artificial colorings and flavors in it.  Drinking soda (even diet soda) is linked to diabetes.  Diet Soda, NPR.

So we stopped.   We stopped drinking soda, we stopped eating nuts and seeds, we stopped drinking milk and we stopped eating peanut butter.  Unfortunately, the infections persisted and surgery was a necessary step.  This past March, he had 6 inches of his "disease riddled" colon removed.  This was a life-changing experience, and he now has a clean bill of health. But, once he was feeling better, we started right back in with our bad eating habits.  The weight he had lost while sick over the 6 months prior to the surgery started to creep back.  This is when the light bulb went off!  We needed to make a change... low carb was the answer.  There are many options out there: Paleo, Ketogenic, South Beach, Zone, Sugar Busters, etc. but we chose Atkins because it is easy for us to follow.  

Diverticulosis has been a common disease in adults over 50, where some people may have it and not know it or never get an infection.  But new studies are finding that it is getting more common in people as young as in their 20s, especially those who are obese.

Some interesting information about Diver (as referenced in this scientific journal): it is a disease of the 20th century, only introduced as a condition in 1904.  It is common in industrialized Western nations, but has a very low occurrence in Asian and African populations.  Why is there such a difference? A striking difference between these two populations is the diet - specifically the amount of dietary fiber consumed.  Early studies showed that the the rising incidence of diverticular disease in the Western world could potentially be due to a gradual decrease in consumption of dietary fiber over the course of the last century. Specifically, the advent of roller milling and the process of refining sugar during the Industrial Revolution removed a large source of fiber from Western diets. This would explain why the first reports of increasing diverticular disease appear in the literature about the time the first cohort of children raised on refined sugar and white flour came of the age where diverticular disease begins to occur, about 40 years after the start of the Industrial Revolution.  If you choose to read the journal, there is also evidence from animal studies to support this.

Sugar, Diver, Obesity, Diabetes - it's all linked and my wish is that we can get to a place where the numbers of these cases are going down, not up at a ludicrous rate.  I will end this today with one statistic that I learned in Fed UpIn the last thirty years, the number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes in adolescents went from 0 to 57,638. 


No comments:

Post a Comment