There was a time when diverticulosis, a condition under which tiny sacs grow on the wall of the colon, and diverticulitis, when those sacs become painfully inflamed, were treated with diet restriction. The way to prevent those painful flair ups, it was thought, was to avoid eating foods or meals that had seeds, kernels etc (tomatoes, popcorn, nuts) in them. I know this to be true because I live it - vicariously. A loved one of mine was diagnosed with the disease (via the emergency room) and we (his family) were put on high alert to make sure no seedy foods landed on his plate. As it turns out, diverticulosis has more to do with ones overall lifestyle and diet patterns and not seeds or nuts. In fact, the risks for diverticulosis are similar to those of colon cancer, and include eating a lot of red and processed meats (some say more than once a week is a lot), consuming a diet high in refined grains (white breads, pasta, baked goods) and not getting enough fiber (from food)- while also being overweight and exercising too little. Gee - this sounds familiar! Those same things are related to many different diseases.
I remembered this story from my past after reading about the seed myth in the current issue of the Nutrition Action Newsletter. I have to mention the article because there is something I want to quote from it - which is quite funny, in that sad but true way.
If you have read my blog for any length of time, you've seen my posts about colon cancer and colonoscopy as a preventative measure. I have talked about fecal occult tests used to detect abnormalities as well. Anyways, in the CSPI Newsletter, it was pointed out that colon cleansing - tonics and such that are sold direct to consumers, are not necessary and could be harmful. A physician with Georgetown University Medical center, Ranit Mishori was interviewed for the story. She said a few things worth repeating.
One is that the ads suggest that using a colon cleanser will reduce ones stress. She advises that "yoga, exercise, walking, talking, and even having a glass of wine" will do the same thing and are safe. She doesn't understand why people think that they need to "detoxify and get the gunk out." But her best point was made when she compared the preparation for a colonoscopy to the aftermath of a cleansing drink or suppository. Recall this blog post where I shared my friends story of her first colonoscopy.
Dr. Mishori said, "in either case you are sitting on the toilet for two days and its uncomfortable." She said she was puzzled by peoples eagerness to do it for some hyped up claim on a commercial and unwillingness to do it so that they can have a cancer screening exam. Good point.
(the article I quoted from was the cover story for the Nutrition Action Newsletter Jan/Feb 2013, but there was no author listed)