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Fiber Is the Broom That Sweeps the Colon Clean continued...

“You tend to get more fiber with a vegetarian diet, so we think that this may decrease risk,” he says. “Fiber increases movement through the colon and decreases risk of developing diverticulosis.”

Rates of this digestive disorder are much higher in the U.K. and U.S., which is why it is often called “a disease of Western civilization,” he says. “Diverticular disease is part of our Western diet.”

Robynne Chutkan, MD, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., agrees.

“Diverticular disease is related to the Western diet and the fact that we don’t have enough fiber, and our diets are animal-based,” she says. “This is why Western stools are very small.”

“A high fiber, plant-based diet is like the broom that’s sweeps the colon clean,” she says.

Not all fiber is created equally. “We are not talking about muffins and breads and granola,” she says. “Plant-based fibers such as kale and nectarine and cabbage and broccoli are really good.”

A high-fiber diet can also help prevent a recurrence of diverticulitis if you already have a history, she says.

“Fiber keeps the stool moving so they don’t fester in pockets and set up an inflammatory reaction,” she says.

Anthony Starpoli, MD, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, often pushes fiber supplementation to his patients who have a history of diverticular disease.

“If they have evidence of diverticulosis, I recommend supplementing fiber to prevent flares,” he says.

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