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Health problems can go unnoticed

I consider myself a healthy person, eat fruits and vegetables, stay physically fit and stay up to date on regular exams. I recently found out why colon care is important, especially as a person ages. A common disease that effects many people is diverticular disease, which I have. Starting at age 40, the chance of getting it increases about every 10 years. About half of people between the ages of 60 and 80 have diverticular disease. Almost everyone over 80 has it. Diverticular disease consists of three conditions that involve the development of small sacs or pockets in the wall of the colon, including diverticulosis, diverticular bleeding, and diverticulitis.

There is no cure for diverticular disease but in many cases it can be controlled through diet. Most Americans eat a low fiber diet instead of a high fiber diet. The average is not nearly enough-only about 10 to 13 grams of fiber a day. Most adults need 20-30 grams of fiber every day, those with diverticular disease need 26-40 grams each day to control the disease. I thought the fruit and vegetables I ate would keep me healthy, but I need more sources of fiber to increase my grams per day.

In my research, I found the following foods are good sources of fiber:

• Whole grains (bran has the highest fiber content); this includes breads and cereals, whole-grain pastas, and brown rice
• Nuts and seeds
• Legumes (such as dried peas, beans, lentils)
• Fruits
• Vegetables

Eating a diet of high-fiber foods usually incorporates various kinds of fiber, and that's healthier. Fruits, vegetables, and oats have plenty of soluble fiber. Whole grains, bran, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables are full of insoluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fiber add bulk and softness to the stool. Insoluble fiber remains pretty much unchanged by the time it reaches the intestines, whereas soluble fiber acquires a soft, jelly-like texture. Both make stools easier to pass.

Most people get better by changing their diet. If you have rectal bleeding, you need to go to the hospital so a doctor can find the part of your colon that is bleeding. The doctor may use a special drug that makes the bleeding stop. The doctor may also decide to operate and remove the part of the colon that is bleeding.

When increasing the fiber content of the diet, it is recommended to add fiber progressively, adding just a few grams at a time to allow the intestinal tract to adjust. Otherwise, abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation may result.

Don’t assume total health without maintaining annual screenings with your doctor. In my case I would not have known that I had diverticular disease without a colonoscopy. I have changed my diet, now I have peace of mind.