Take these steps to avoid ailments that afflict your colon.

“The best way to protect yourself against diverticulitis and bleeding is to take steps to keep diverticulosis from occurring,” says Dr. Matthew Hamilton, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and medical editor of the Harvard Medical School Guide Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.

Lowering your risk

First, address the factors linked with a higher risk of developing diverticulosis. They include the following:

Being overweight. Research has found that men with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, classified as obese, have a 78% higher risk of diverticulosis than men who have a low normal BMI of less than 21.

Smoking. A 2018 analysis published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine found a 46% higher risk of diverticulosis in smokers than in nonsmokers.

Taking certain medications. There are several drugs linked with an increased risk of diverticulosis and lower intestinal bleeding, such as corticosteroids, opiates, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen (Aleve). “This does not mean you should avoid these medications, especially if you use them to treat other conditions, but check with your doctor if you take them regularly,” says Dr. Hamilton.

Keep your system smooth

You can further lower your risk of diverticulosis, and thus bleeding and diverticulitis, by improving your digestive system’s overall health. Here are some strategies.

Get enough fiber. Fiber helps to bulk up stools and move waste through your intestines, so you can maintain regular and healthy bowel movements. Not eating enough fiber also raises your risk of constipation, which causes you to strain when using the bathroom. Over time, this excess pressure can weaken the colon walls and increase the chance diverticula will form.

How much fiber do you need? A 2020 review in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed 30 grams of fiber per day had a 41% lower risk of developing diverticulosis and diverticulitis than those who ate 7.5 grams daily.

However, on average, adults eat only about half this amount daily. One way to gauge your fiber intake is to base it on your daily calorie intake.

The National Academy of Medicine suggests people eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. This comes to 34 grams based on 2,400 daily calories, 28 grams for 2,000 calories, and 22 grams for 1,600 calories.

There is a wide selection of high-fiber foods from which to choose. (Go to /fiber for a list of common fiber-rich foods from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.) But here are some tips for adding more fiber to your diet:

  • Include fruits, vegetables, or both with each meal.
  • Eat beans, lentils, or peas at least three times a week.
  • Choose pieces of fruit or a palm-sized serving of nuts or seeds as snacks. Also, add them to other foods like yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.
  • Switch out traditional pasta for versions made from whole wheat, quinoa, chickpeas, or lentils.
  • Eat more whole grains like brown rice or bulgur instead of white rice.

Make regular bathroom trips. Holding a bowel movement also can increase straining. Track your bathroom trips so you can better predict when they are most likely to occur. If you battle chronic constipation, talk with your doctor about taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Take a walk. Any kind of exercise and activity supports a healthy digestive system. Also, try walking for 15 minutes after eating. This can speed up how fast food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, which can encourage more regular bowel movements.

As you age, there’s a good chance you’ll develop diverticulosis, a condition that affects the walls of your colon. In fact, about 58% of people over 60 have diverticulosis, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Diverticulosis occurs when tiny bulges (called diverticula) form in weak areas of your colon’s inner wall. These bulges occur naturally over time, but certain conditions and lifestyle habits can accelerate the process. For instance, people with frequent constipation or irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to develop diverticulosis, especially at an earlier age.

The bulges themselves usually don’t cause symptoms or problems. Most people never know they have diverticulosis, as it’s usually discovered after a colonoscopy or a CT scan for an unrelated issue.

However, diverticulosis can lead to a more serious condition called diverticulitis. This occurs when one or more of the bulges becomes inflamed or infected. It typically causes pain in the lower abdomen, most often on the left side, often with fever and fatigue. Diverticulitis requires immediate medical attention and sometimes hospitalization. In some cases, even surgery is needed.

The other possible complication of diverticulosis is lower intestinal bleeding. As diverticula become enlarged, the wall of the colon weakens, which may lead to a break in one of the small blood vessels that feed the inner lining.

“The best way to protect yourself against diverticulitis and bleeding is to take steps to keep diverticulosis from occurring,” says Dr. Matthew Hamilton, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and medical editor of the Harvard Medical School Guide Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.

Lowering your risk

First, address the factors linked with a higher risk of developing diverticulosis. They include the following:

Being overweight. Research has found that men with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, classified as obese, have a 78% higher risk of diverticulosis than men who have a low normal BMI of less than 21.

Smoking. A 2018 analysis published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine found a 46% higher risk of diverticulosis in smokers than in nonsmokers.

Taking certain medications. There are several drugs linked with an increased risk of diverticulosis and lower intestinal bleeding, such as corticosteroids, opiates, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen (Aleve). “This does not mean you should avoid these medications, especially if you use them to treat other conditions, but check with your doctor if you take them regularly,” says Dr. Hamilton.

Keep your system smooth

You can further lower your risk of diverticulosis, and thus bleeding and diverticulitis, by improving your digestive system’s overall health. Here are some strategies.

Get enough fiber. Fiber helps to bulk up stools and move waste through your intestines, so you can maintain regular and healthy bowel movements. Not eating enough fiber also raises your risk of constipation, which causes you to strain when using the bathroom. Over time, this excess pressure can weaken the colon walls and increase the chance diverticula will form.

How much fiber do you need? A 2020 review in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed 30 grams of fiber per day had a 41% lower risk of developing diverticulosis and diverticulitis than those who ate 7.5 grams daily.

However, on average, adults eat only about half this amount daily. One way to gauge your fiber intake is to base it on your daily calorie intake.

The National Academy of Medicine suggests people eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. This comes to 34 grams based on 2,400 daily calories, 28 grams for 2,000 calories, and 22 grams for 1,600 calories.

There is a wide selection of high-fiber foods from which to choose. (Go to /fiber for a list of common fiber-rich foods from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.) But here are some tips for adding more fiber to your diet:

  • Include fruits, vegetables, or both with each meal.
  • Eat beans, lentils, or peas at least three times a week.
  • Choose pieces of fruit or a palm-sized serving of nuts or seeds as snacks. Also, add them to other foods like yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.
  • Switch out traditional pasta for versions made from whole wheat, quinoa, chickpeas, or lentils.
  • Eat more whole grains like brown rice or bulgur instead of white rice.

Make regular bathroom trips. Holding a bowel movement also can increase straining. Track your bathroom trips so you can better predict when they are most likely to occur. If you battle chronic constipation, talk with your doctor about taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Take a walk. Any kind of exercise and activity supports a healthy digestive system. Also, try walking for 15 minutes after eating. This can speed up how fast food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, which can encourage more regular bowel movements.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Matthew 15:11 ESV It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Colossians 3:1-2 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Proverbs 17:22 ESV A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Luke 21:34 ESV “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Proverbs 16:3 ESV Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Galatians 5:1 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Matthew 7:7 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Romans 7:25 ESV Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Colossians 3:2-5 ESV Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Matthew 5:28 ESV But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study

www.agapetemplesda.com

www.adventistontario.org

https://www.hopechannel.com/au/learn/courses

breathoflife.tv/

https://3abn.org/all-streams/3abn.html

http://www.nadadventist.org/article/15/contact-us

https://www.adventist.org/en/utility/contact/

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