Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Recent Info on Diverticulosis

Bad news: If you're middle aged, there's a significant chance you have diverticulosis (30% of U.S. adults between 50 and 59). If you're over 65, you have a 65% chance. And, scarily, there is increasing incidence among individuals younger than 40 years of age. And you won't know without a colonoscopy (or other scan).

Good news: Diverticulosis is not harmful in and of itself.

Bad news: Diverticulosis puts you in peril of diverticulitis (I can't keep the terms straight, either), which is ghastly, and may be easy to mistake - at least at first! - for more pedestrian lower gastro symptoms. It's no joke: in Europe, diverticulitis accounts for about 13,000 deaths annually.

Good news: Your odds are good. Even if you have diverticulosis, you probably won't get diverticulitis. Incidence is 4 - 15%.

Bad news: Traditional medical advice is to completely stop eating nuts and seeds. No more granola, poppy-seed bagels, berries, tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc. In the fast breezy read you're doing now, that sounds bearable. But when a doctor actually tells you this, it's shocking. Tomato sauce covers a lot. And being told to never eat another strawberry feels like walking through a portal into a new reality.

Good news: Latest research shows dietary restrictions don't affect your likelihood of diverticulosis turning into diverticulitis. Gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, a Harvard Medical School professor says (here), citing recent research:
"Yes, nuts and seeds — foods once thought to trigger diverticulitis — are actually full of fiber and are tied to many aspects of good health," Dr. Friedman says. "You can eat a handful of nuts and seeds every day and your gut will thank you for it."
I showed the article and study to Slog technical advisor Pierre, who, for 30 years running, has perpetrated the longest shaggy dog joke in history by never once failing to declare any scientific/medical link, headline, or study I've sent him to be "NONSENSE!" He has broken his perfect run, stunning me by quietly accepting this one. "New evidence trumps old wisdom,” he shrugged. “That's science."

Here's the money quote from the study: "The evidence does not show a higher risk of diverticulitis in people who eat a lot of those foods, compared with people who don’t". Pierre notes that it says nothing about getting diverticula, it is only concern with the incidence of the disease. It does not address the possibility that seeds may or may not cause diverticula, only that the diet does not affect the probability of their getting inflammed"

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