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Diverticulosis is a condition of the colon with pockets forming on the intestinal wall due to increased pressure, most likely from constipation. Sometimes food collects in these pockets (like bubbles on a tire inner tube when the outer tire is weak), and this can lead to infection and inflammation, a condition called diverticulitis.


For many years, patients with diverticulosis have been told to avoid certain fibrous foods, such as nuts, seeds, and corn, particularly popcorn. However, this was a theoretical concern, as it "seemed logical" that these foods could get trapped in the diverticula and lead to problems. It now turns out that the scientific data does not support these restrictions (most fibrous
foods are not irritating, and indeed can help move things through the bowel and reduce constipation).


Researchers followed 47,228 men over 18 years and compared those with high nut, seed, corn, and popcorn consumption with those who consumed the least. (Strate LL, et al., Nut, corn, and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease. JAMA. 2008 Aug 27;300(8):907-14.) For the most part they found no association between these foods and diverticular disease. However, contrary to "popular" medical opinion, high intake of nuts and popcorn actually significantly reduced the incidence of diverticulitis, by 20 percent in the case of nuts, and by 28 percent for popcorn. In general, high fiber foods are associated with less diverticulosis, and now it appears
that they can help prevent the inflammatory consequences that sometimes occur.


Arthritis and Food Allergy


Foods may play a role in making rheumatoid arthritis (RA) worse. Many patients report such an association, and a new study supports this claim. Researchers evaluated 14 RA patients and compared them with 20 controls. Intestinal secretions showed remarkably higher levels of food antibodies in the subjects than in the controls.


The most common offending foods were milk, eggs, pork, and codfish. Because antibodies to multiple foods were found in each subject, the researchers suggested that many small effects could add up to major symptoms. (Hvatum M, et al., The gut-joint axis: cross reactive food antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis. Gut. 2006 Sep;55(9):1240-7.)


Avoid suspect foods and take supplements to help symptoms, such as vitamins C and E, SAMe, fish oil, borage oil, curcumin, and boswellia.



More arthritis info


Some people have suggested that foods from the nightshade family, such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants might contribute to arthritis, this may not be true for most patients. However, some foods might increase inflammation, and others might reduce it.


Foods that contain land animal fat might increase inflammation because of the arachidonic acid that they contain (this is a non-essential fatty acid found in meat and poultry, as well as milk, and is a precursor of prostaglandin E2, which promotes inflammation). Trans fatty acids, from hydrogenated vegetable oils such as margarine and shortening, also increase inflammation. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced inflammation, but it is not clear which specific components are responsible.


The fish oil that you take and the vitamin C may both help to reduce inflammation and reduce arthritis pain. Olive oil and gamma-linolenic acid (from evening primrose or borage oils) enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil. Vitamin E (800-1200 IU daily) also lowers the markers of inflammation, such as CRP, by up to 50 percent.


A number of supplements also help reduce the inflammation or pain associated with arthritis. Curcumin, a turmeric extract (300-600 mg), ginger (250-750 mg), and boswellia (400-600 mg) can all help with arthritis. S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) is beneficial in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (200-600 mg). Some combination of a healthy diet and these supplements should be helpful.