Harvard Men's Health Watch

High-fiber for preventing diverticulosis challenged

Has your doctor suggested a high-fiber diet to prevent diverticular disease? A study in Gastroenterology suggests that advice may not have the promised payoff.

In diverticulosis, small pouches (diverticula) develop and bulge out through weak spots in the walls of the colon. About 40% of men and women develop diverticulosis by age 60. The diverticula usually do not cause any symptoms, but about a third of people develop more serious forms of the disease. These include diverticulitis (infected and inflamed diverticula) and diverticular bleeding.

The scientists assessed the previous year's fiber intake in 2,100 people who were already scheduled for colonoscopies. Diverticula were found in 42% of the participants. But contrary to conventional wisdom, people who ate the most fiber were more, not less, likely to have diverticula.

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