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Nutrition: Nuts May, in Fact, Help Avert Diverticulitis

Doctors have long advised people with diverticulosis to steer clear of nuts and foods with small seeds, fearing they might cause severe intestinal complications.

But a study has found that eating these foods not only does not increase the risk of complications, but may even lower the risk of developing the disease. The study, published in the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first large-scale study of the matter.

About a third of Americans over 60 develop diverticulosis, which causes intense pain in the abdomen and leads to the rupture of small pouches in the colon, called diverticula.

In the study, scientists analyzed data on more than 47,000 men ages 40 to 75 who had no history of the disease at the start of the study. The subjects were followed for the next 18 years, a period in which 800 cases of diverticulitis and about 380 cases of diverticular bleeding were diagnosed.

Those who ate the most nuts, twice a week or more, had a 20 percent lower risk of developing diverticulitis than those who ate the least, while those who ate popcorn at least twice a week had a 28 percent lower risk. They also found no link between any foods and complications.

The authors say the benefits may come from nutrients and fiber in nuts and light popcorn.


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