When intestinal diverticula become inflamed they trigger diverticulitis: symptoms, risks and proper diet
We don't see them. But they are small "bags" that are created along the intestinal wall, especially in the colon. In fact, it happens that the intestinal wall is no longer so resistant to the stimuli it is subjected to, with the muscles working. The result is that in the weakest points, over the years, species of "hernias" are created. Here, told in simple terms, the history of intestinal diverticulum, which can remain so, and therefore give symptoms and signs typical of its presence (which is often completely silent) or it can become inflamed, giving way to diverticulitis.
Who is most at risk?
In general terms, diverticula are precisely like small "hernias" of the intestine, which are often linked to poor eating habits maintained over the years. In the absence of dietary fiber, the fecal mass is insufficient to support the strain of the intestinal muscles. Over time, this mechanism, which is also observed in people who have been suffering from constipation for years, increases the pressure inside the intestine and induces a collapse in the weakest points of the wall, where diverticula are formed.
Having made this necessary anatomical premise, one can well understand a fact: when it is said to observe a diet rich in fiber, which allows you to maintain a regular rhythm for bowel movements, and to observe the right rules to combat constipation, obviously including even physical activity, in practice the foundations are created to counter the risk of diverticula being created.
In fact, if it is true that the risks of having lesions of this type increase with age and the relative "fatigue" of the tissues, it is equally undeniable that prolonged constipation facilitates the onset of these alterations. Precisely for this reason the modern diet based on very refined foods and low in whole foods represents a risk factor because the lack of dietary fiber facilitates the onset of wall weakness.
Regarding the signs of their presence, it must be said, the diverticula are often "silent", so much so that they do not lead to any disturbance. Maybe they are discovered by chance, during a diagnostic test done for other reasons. But there are people where their presence makes it manifest, in the form of excessive flatulence, diarrhea, stomach pains or other symptoms that suggest intestinal problems.
Diverticulosis or diverticulitis?
Let me be clear. Each person must address the presence of diverticula, once they have been discovered, together with their doctor to know how to behave. In general, it is often preferred to follow the situation over time: if there is no inflammation of the diverticula, a diet very rich in fiber, fruit, vegetables and whole foods is recommended to help the intestine work properly. Surgery can be prescribed by the doctor if there are complications.
The situation obviously changes when it comes to diverticulitis, i.e. the diverticula are inflamed and therefore, in addition to creating disorders more easily, they can more easily face complications. If it is true that to reduce the risks of undergoing diverticulosis, a diet very rich in dietary fiber is indicated (fruit, vegetables and whole grains are rich in it) because this diet helps the intestine to work properly, the situation changes if they are present inflammatory pictures: in this case the diet recommended by the doctor (do not let yourself go to do it yourself) may also be low in dietary fiber and targeted treatments become necessary to control the situation, both to limit intestinal contractions and to reduce the risk of infections develop or worsen.
It is also important to check the evolution of the health picture of the entire intestine through scheduled checks over time, to observe what is happening and be ready to intervene.