Diverticulosis

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This week is evidently digestion week. It began with an email from a friend on helping out with a digestive condition called “diverticulosis,” which she referred to, unknown of the spelling, as “diver-tickle-o-sis.” Next, some friends came over for dinner and, naturally, we talked about IBS while eating. I’m a classy dinner host no doubt.

For starters, diverticulosis is a condition, an extremely common one, where pockets form in the intestines and fill with fecal matter. They are basically small blowouts in the intestinal walls, where it balloons out and gets clogged. As this mass ferments and continues to stretch out the intestinal walls, inflammation can set in, causing the development of a condition called diverticulitis.

As with IBS, these conditions are both caused and exacerbated by malabsorption, and more specifically in the case of diverticulitis, dietary fiber.

Of course, the standard recommendations set forth by much of the medical establishment is to choke down more fiber. Treatment for diverticulitis involves antibiotics and fiber supplements and a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This, folks, is like treating an eye infection with a hydrochloric acid-filled eye dropper.

Fiber is indigestible matter. It takes a cow several stomachs and thousands of times more enzyme capacity and fermentation to break down plant fibers – cellulose, hemicellulose, etc. Humans, however, are not really built to consume that much fiber. On top of that, when we damage our digestive tracts through poor nutrition – a phenomenon noted by Robert McCarrison reliably and consistently with humans and virtually any species he was able to test, fiber becomes increasingly problematic.

Of course, we’re left not knowing what to do about such a situation, because we are led to believe that fiber is a healthy food. If we don’t get enough fiber, we will get colon cancer and constipation, and who knows what else. Plus, we are also inundated with information about fiber’s ability to lower cholesterol levels and reduce weight. Well, I’m sure you know this. Just about every cereal box in America marketed as a health food has some kind of fiber-related cure-all claim with it and a nice heart worked into the logo or graphics on the box – at the very least, a heart-shaped bowl. Well, if eating a “healthy” diet, which is high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, then you should consider eating the most “unhealthy” diet possible, especially if you have a digestive problem such as diverticulitis.

Although I’d love to spend hours going into the fallacy that “fiber is good for you,” originally perpetrated in error by Denis Burkitt several decades ago, going in to great detail on Walter Willett’s Nurses Study that showed fiber, as a substance, does jack diddley for us – I am not. That has already been done by Gary Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories (chapter “Fiber”). On top of that, Konstantin Monastyrsky has created an avalanche of evidence condemning the consumption of copious amounts of fiber, particularly in supplement form and in breakfast cereals. His site, featuring comical new video, which cites only information from prestigious medical journals maligning fiber, is worth a visit.

Instead what I’d like to do is focus on what I would do if I had diverticulitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or any other fiber and malabsorption-related inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract – eat a low-density, low-residue, no-sugar diet.

Firstly, women suffer from digestive problems far more than men. The main reason is that women eat “healthier” than men. Instead of eating “unhealthy” foods that humans have relished since the beginning of time – and that we all come into this world wanting, women often eat Special K with skim milk and half the fruit off the Chiquita banana lady’s hat for breakfast, and throughout the rest of the day they eat gigantic salads as the bulk of their meal with more whole grains. Face it, women order salads at restaurants like there’s no tomorrow. Not only does a diet “overly rich in starch (carbohydrates) disturb digestive function” as McCarrison observed with certainty, but the fiber load from so many vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains in the “healthy” diet is enough to break the levees, and certainly enough to fan the fires of digestive misery.

Fibrous foods cause so many problems – diverticulosis for one because of the massive bulky stools that they create, because they are high-residue and take up a lot of space as they charge their way through the intestines. All this means is that, to obtain the same amount of energy that you can get from a stick of butter (800 calories), you would have to eat several bowls of cereal with skim milk and fruit. You’d have to eat pounds of broccoli. More stuff has to be digested, and, even more importantly, a large portion of the whole grain cereal (the fiber) or fruit and vegetable fiber must pass undigested through the digestive tract. This expands the intestinal walls creating diverticulae for one, a condition that is present in up to 50% of adults over 60, and numerous other problems. Plus, this feeds bacteria which ferment this mass, causing bloating, discomfort, more inflammation and irritation, both constipation and diarrhea, and flatulence – all things I haven’t experienced in a long, long time.

So, simply switch to a low-density, low-residue, low-fiber diet. Like magic, much of this disappears, as digestion improves to a level that most have never experienced while eating the typical American “healthy” diet, which as we know, almost always starts with a bowl or two of cereal with whole grain toast and fruit. The first time I ever experienced it I had no idea what was going on. This happened in Japan, home of the world’s lowest-fiber diet. It was amazing, it was the first week of my life that I hadn’t farted. At the time I was confused. I thought it had something to do with being in a clean, sanitary country or something. Uh, not so much. White rice (no fiber), soba noodles (no fiber), fish, a tiny amount of seaweed and hardly any fruits or vegetables – that’s Japanese cuisine for ya. Digestive heaven for a kid raised on Raisin Bran, an apple a day to keep the doctor away, and hearty portions of vegetables and salad with every ‘complete’ meal.

I’ve taken this digestive heaven to 7th heaven now, as my diet is not only exceedingly low in fiber, but 80% of my caloric intake comes in the most consolidated form of food energy there is – fat. Little goes in, and little comes out. This doesn’t mean constipation. In fact, fat speeds up transit time more than any other type of food. My stools are moist and come daily and regularly. Proteins and fats leave next to no residue whatsoever. My diet is very low in carbohydrates and therefore fiber, as only carbohydrates contain fiber. My stomach is flat and small, which has provided appetite reduction, which in turn means even less food passing through the digestive tract, less inflammation, better nutrient absorption (which fiber undeniably disrupts) and more.

For inflammatory digestive disorders:

Eat a low fiber diet – This may mean a reduction or even a total elimination in some cases. Eat small amounts of vegetables (as a garnish, not as the bulk of the meal), and make sure they are well-cooked. Raw vegetables and salads, for the most part are out of the question. Sea vegetables provide the highest nutrient to fiber ratio and are ideal plant foods (nori, dulse, kelp, wakame, etc.). Breakfast cereals are completely out of the question – the digestive destroyer. Beans and legumes, not a chance. You can also juice cucumbers and such to get nutrients, but avoid sweet-vegetables and fruit juice.

Eat fewer carbohydrates – This isn’t totally necessary, but it makes the diet easier. Plus, eating a diet based on refined, low-fiber carbohydrates is less than optimal for obvious reasons. Best carbohydrate sources for digestive problems are white rice, peeled potatoes and other peeled root vegetables, pearl barley, cream of rice, etc. Wheat and other grains can give people a lot of problems and are best avoided when possible.

Eat plenty of protein – Meats are digested almost completely, which is ideal, but still require digestive work, and tend to provoke constipation when eaten in excess without accompanying fats and carbohydrates. Get adequate protein, but don’t overdo it. It’s better to get the bulk of your calories from fat, especially if you are also overweight.

Eat the holiest of holies, fat – Fat is not the killer (ask professor Reaven at Stanford). Saturated fat, in particular, is always the best choice for any health condition. It is the Messiah, crucified by the powers that be in defense of cheap derivatives of grain-based commodities, from Kellogg’s (Kloggs for short) to margarine. Butter and coconut oil are best. Coconut oil in particular is strongly antibacterial and perfect for treating any bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. Other fat choices to replace calories from fibrous foods include coconut milk, cream, cream cheese, olive oil, bacon and lard, and other fatty foods that humans have savored, free of disease, since the beginning of time. Nuts and avocadoes are not healthier fats. In fact, if you have a digestive problem, those are terrible choices. Nuts are extremely high in fiber by weight and difficult to digest.

Avoid sugars – Most sugars are poorly absorbed. The most poorly absorbed is fructose, particularly when fructose is the predominant form of sugar, as in whole fruits, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and pure fructose. Fruit, despite its nutritional value, is a very poor choice for someone with digestive problems, as it contains both fiber and fructose (up to 60% of us do not absorb fructose properly, leading to a host of disorders – IBS being one of them). Also watch out for lactose. Milk, especially pasteurized milk lacking lactase enzymes, is totally inappropriate for someone with an inflammatory digestive condition. It is pure bacteria food.

Eat three times per day – Eat regular meals, as evenly spaced as possible. Do not snack in between, but allow ample rest. This also helps digestion and regulates normal peristalsis. By keeping carbohydrates low to moderate, removing sugars, and being aggressive with fat and protein you will greatly reduce the urge to snack.

Sample meals:

Breakfast – 3 eggs scrambled in lots of butter with cheese and a few spinach leaves. 1 corn tortilla or just a little fried, peeled potatoes/hashbrowns with it.

Lunch – Beef stirfried in coconut oil with red peppers and nori over white rice – finished with butter.

Dinner – Mashed potatoes made with tons of butter, cream, and/or melted cheese with grilled chicken or fish. Small side of green beans cooked thoroughly – grandma-style (using traditional wisdom, which for millenia new that the proper way to eat vegetables was peeled if possible, and then cooked to mush, which breaks down the fiber matrix, making it more digestible)

For very severe digestive problems, protein may have to be reduced to once daily, with other meals consisting of starch and fat.

Afraid to try it? Just as Konstantin Monastyrsky says, author of Fiber Menace, “switching to a low-fiber diet is not chemotherapy.” Just do it gradually. For further guidance, particularly on making the transition to a reduced-fiber diet, please visit his website.

Diverticular disease (diverticulosis). When fiber increases stool size beyond the normal confinements of the large intestine, it causes the outward protrusion of the intestinal wall. The pouches that are formed are called diverticula (plural). When the diverticulum (singular) gets inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. The diverticulitis is localized to specific diverticula because they may retain a fibrous fecal mass indefinitely. The eventual inflammations inside the diverticula are caused by the same mechanical, chemical, and bacteriological factors that are behind IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
-taken from http://www.fibermenace.com/

11 Comments

  1. In today’s world, our bodies still require the complete balance of pure nutrients and energy provided by healthy foods. The modern demands of our fast-paced world have led to the processing of food to the point of non-nutrition.

    Reply
  2. Hello Matt! Thank you for helping spread the great word about coconut oil!

    Yes, coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, etc. Indeed, cheap derivatives peddled by the “powers that be” will eventually bring a lot of people to a health crisis. Actually, a lot are already in the middle of one.

    Take care.

    Cheers,
    Frederick
    http://www.coconut-oil-central.com
    Your Drugstore in a Bottle

    Reply
  3. Dear Matt,

    What is your Lipids’ profile ?

    What are the results of your Hormones’ blood-tests ?

    BE MAN enough to publish the REAL results !!

    Cheers,

    DEGOLEM

    Reply
  4. I have no idea. I have not been to a doctor in 6 years, and have had no blood work done since childhood.

    And I assure you I’m plenty man enough to publish any results you like as they come. Your mom can attest to my manliness if you need a second opinion.

    My guess is flawless. That you would even suspect that I would have imbalances there suggests that you know nothing of the dynamics of how lipids and hormones are affected by lifestyle and diet.

    Reply
  5. I have been – BY NOW – following your (READING–) GIGESTs for a while. Manliness got nothin' with science NOR objective FACTS.
    I did not question your machismo OR physicAL PERFECTION; if YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR UPCOMING BOOK/PUBLICATIONS/SERVICES >> THEN YOU NEED BECOME MORE ACCOMMODATING TO THE MEDICAL CONVENTIONS; take agood xample from Dean Ornish ( who published all(?-!!) his lab-works results >>AS the ACE promotive CARD to his ACTIVITIES…

    Again I enjoy reading you >> I cherish the gift ( that combined with labor ) you have for evaluating ISSUES differently YET intelligently, BUT then I cannot escape where you run off your own seams…

    Positive criticism IS constructive EDITORIALISM.

    Sincerely,
    DEGOLEM.

    Reply
  6. I’m plenty accomodating. For example saturated fats lower VLDL while fructose raises it. Thus, following a diet devoid of fructose and high in saturated fats, lowers VLDL, and because of fructose’s effect on blood lipids and fructose’s lipogenic effect, such a diet drastically lowers biomarkers of inflammation and serum levels of saturated fats (despite what you ingest). Of course, carcinogenic polyunsaturates are greatly reduced in a high-saturated fat diet as well. Like our good buddy omega 6, the precursor to the formation of molecules associated with every single disease that has seen doubling and tripling over the last several decades, namely asthma, autism, diabetes, obesity, allergies, and some autoimmune conditions.

    Ornish has taken a diet that disrupts fat metabolism and removed the fat. Sure it produces results, and the methodologies of science, which can lead to such misdirection as to believe that a comletely unhistorical diet could be ideal, have led Ornish and his followers to think that what they have concluded is correct and somehow genius.

    Just like having car trouble that prevents a car from driving forward, you can certainly slam that puppy into reverse and still get where you need to go. But that doesn’t make it smart or safe. Fixing the root problem and driving forward, in a way that is smarter and safer is a much better idea.

    I’m merely suggesting to remove the cause of heart disease and other related afflictions, the hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, hyperinsulinemia, and hypercholesterolemia associated with it. There are plenty of ways to overcome these conditions. I’ve known people who have done it through supplementation alone, eating a vegan diet, and more. All I suggest is a way that provides good nutrtion in a viable long-term strategy for the majority of mankind, not for an Ornish study group, in which participants struggle against their own physiology to succeed.

    Being accomodating to what mainstream medicine teaches is a huge stumbling block. The status quo on health needs to be challenged, confronted, and unraveled. People literally look at a plate of bacon and eggs and think “heart attack.” That is some serious conditioning and a big problem when you think back on how these associations were created — the generalizations and oversimplification they were built upon — i.e. Ancel Keys and Jeremiah Stamler. It was they who built a theory without using proper scientific inquiry. And here we are, fat as hell, rapidly degenerating. 95% of the world population is diseased, and a low fat vegetable-based diet like what the American public has an unconscious infatuation with is not the best answer. It might help some, but it’s not a solution.

    Reply
  7. Acutally, I would like to echo the request by previous anonymous. Would you care to post your numbers? I know you have not been to a doctor in a while, but there is no harm and getting all the tests done.

    I agree with you idea of eating lower fiber, but it would be great to have your own anecdotal evidence to back up your assertion. That would also give me motivation to follow low fiber high fat diet.

    Reply
  8. I will give you the best numbers that put one at risk for heart disease, and are indicators of being in a diseased state.

    The biggest risk factor for degenerative disease of nearly all kinds is waist circumference. It is so superior as an indicator to cholesterol levels it is absurd to talk about cholesterol.

    My waist circumference is 33 inches, the same as it was my Freshman year of high school. More importantly, I don’t require exercise to maintain this, so I have much greater insurance that this number won’t start to creep up, especially considering that it was higher with 40 hours of exercise per week than it is now if I exercise 40 minutes per week.

    My resting pulse is below 60.

    My basal body temperature, the greatest single indicator of health, is 97.8-97.9 consistently, a sign that I do not have the cause of heart disease and all other ailments – hypothyroidism (type I or type II). Below 97.8 is considered virtual proof of a low metabolism. Check your armpit temperature first thing in the morning for several days if you are curious about your own.

    My blood pressure is 104 over 62.

    It is doubtful that I will ever know, or care about what my cholesterol levels are or triglycerides, especially knowing how these levels get elevated and their total lack of association with dietary fat of any kind.

    I will however, someday start checking my blood sugar levels, but haven’t started yet. Anyone with a fasting glucose over 90 is extremely ill, regardless of what their other blood tests come back telling them.

    My blood pH is perfect, although I haven’t tested this in a while. I also believe this to be an excellent marker of overall health.

    As for a low fiber diet to improve digestion, anyone who tries it will get results within a week’s time. I would be shocked if anyone cut fiber down, eliminated sugars, and didn’t have miraculous results within days. Everyone I know who has tried it has had instant success, myself included. No gas, less stomach pain, smaller stools. The only danger is carbohydrate starvation or getting insufficient fat. The thyroid gland controls transit time, and needs large quantities of fat and some carbohydrate to keep from being strained. In other words, fat must substitute for fiber to keep things flowing and avoid constipation. Fiber is a much poorer choice though, as most people have bacterial overgrowth which any undigested carbohydrate exacerbates, particularly fructose, splenda, sugar alcohols, and fiber.

    Reply
  9. Thanks for this post Matt. Also the video you linked was the funniest thing I've ever seen. That guy is a comic genius.

    I have had problematic digestion for years, which I can trace back to around the time I started Weight Watchers. Low Fat/high fiber means nothing is going to move. I've increased by saturated fat, eliminated fructose, but still things aren't ideal. I still probably eat too much fiber. A lifetime habit is hard to get past. It's difficult not to start the day with whole wheat toast, etc. I'm going to start trying to cut out all raw veggies and bread and see if that helps.

    Reply
  10. I just discovered your blog today, after seeing Lustig's youtube video Sugar–The Bitter Truth and doing some Googling.

    I have enjoyed reading your stuff today because you are one of the few people I've read who is familiar both with low-carb nutrition and Pimentel's studies on IBS and SIBO.

    I am a 54-year-old male. I discovered, more or less by accident, that my lifelong IBS was ameliorated–not cured–by low-carb eating. That was about 20 years ago. Then, about 3 years ago, I read Pimentel and experienced another qualitative improvement by avoiding raw plant foods and adding small amounts of refined grains.

    I tried Pimentel's elemental diet and I tried his antibiotics. None of those helped at all.

    After a couple of years of eating the Pimentel way, I started to get antsy, because I wanted to reduce the IBS symptoms that remined. I did more than 6 months of Paleo eating. I ate no grains, tubers, legumes, or dairy, and had mostly meat and low-carb plant foods. I started getting more diarrhea, more cramps, and more flatulence.

    So, on June 6, 2008, I went to "zero-carb" eating, thinking that my problems were caused by the fibrous plant foods that I was consuming. I have been zero-carb ever since. And my health has continued to deteriorate.

    On January 6, 2009, unless I undergo a miraculous change, I will abandon zero carb. I will return to meat, fat, eggs, low-carb cheese, and Pimentel-level quantities of refined grains.

    Thanks for the info. Like I said, I don't see anyone else on the web talking about this stuff.

    moises

    Reply
  11. Moises –

    Your progression is very similar to what many of us that have gravitated to 180DegreeHealth have followed. It's a simple formula of identifying problem areas and then further cutting down the list of foods that we tolerate in progressively extreme diets. The result is digestive and metabolic weakness and dietary imprisonment.

    180 has basically morhped into a diet rehab sanctuary. Follow along with us and read my Digestion eBook, and I think you'll find the courage to attack your weaknesses head on, improve the core problem (which is typically metabolic), and be able to achieve the ultimate goal – eat a delicious, satisfying, and healthful mixed diet without negative consequence.

    Reply

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