Eating Fiber to Prevent Diverticular Disease

High fiber diets protected women from developing diverticular disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Dietary fiber can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A recent study showed that getting enough daily fiber may help to prevent a digestive system disease.

Researchers looked at data on women's diets and followed up with them to see if they developed diverticular disease.

Diverticular disease causes pockets to form along the large intestine. Sometimes these pockets become irritated and bleed.

This study found that women who ate more fiber, especially from cereals and fruits, were significantly less likely to develop the disease.

"Work with a dietician to develop a diet plan."

Francesca Crowe, PhD, of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit in the University of Oxford, led this study.

Diverticular disease occurs when pockets form along the large intestine and then become inflamed. In serious cases of diverticular disease, the pockets may bleed and become infected.

This study looked at the link between diverticular disease and dietary fiber.

The researchers used data from the Million Women Study, which included 1.3 million women aged 50 to 65 years old.

The participants completed lifestyle and diet questionnaires.

The study used 690,075 questionnaires from women without known diverticular disease. The researchers followed up with these women for an average of six years.

At baseline, the participants' average dietary fiber intake was 13.8 grams per day.

About two fifths of the total daily fiber was from cereals and grains, and one fifth was from fruits and vegetables.

Over the course of the survey, 17,325 participants were admitted to the hospital with diverticular disease. Of these participants, 21 died from the disease.

The researchers found that there were about 48 cases of diverticular disease per 10,000 women-years in the group that ate less than 9.6 grams of fiber per day.

Of the women who ate more than 17.6 grams per day, there were 35 cases per 10,000 women-years.

The researchers concluded that the more fiber participants ate, the less likely they were to develop diverticular disease.

The authors of this study also noted that the most significant risk reduction occurred in women whose fiber mainly came from cereals and fruit.

"Interestingly, many studies indicate that not only does fiber not prevent or heal diverticular disease, it can often cause it," said Rusty Gregory, a certified wellness coach and dailyRx Contributing Expert. "Special consideration should be taken when reading the results of large epidemiological studies due to error in self-reporting."

This study was published in Gut on January 2.

The research was supported by the UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK. The authors disclosed no competing interests.

Review Date: 
January 7, 2014
Last Updated:
January 8, 2014