Diverticulosis and Pancreatitis

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Diverticulosis

When tension is so great that gas cannot be expelled normally but is forced-or diverted-against the intestinal walls, it sometimes forms small balloon-like protuberances known as diverticula. A person with these little uninvited guests, usually ranging from the size of a pea to that of a thimble, is said to have diverticulosis or, if they become inflamed, diverticulitis. He should quickly find harmless ways of blowing off steam so that his frustrations cannot cause such severe tensions in a normally elastic tissue.

People apparently have diverticula for years without knowing it until a chance x-ray reveals them; hence they are not necessarily troublemakers. Stagnant food or fecal matter, however, held in these thin-walled balloons can become a breeding place for putrefactive bacteria; inflammation, discomfort, and pain may result. Although diverticula can be removed surgically, others soon form unless a preventive campaign is undertaken.

Individuals with diverticulosis frequently develop anemia; and when loops simulating diverticula are formed in the intestines of animals, anemia is produced even though the diet is adequate. The bacteria in the diverticula appear to grab all the folic acid from the food and prevent it from reaching the blood. When these putrefactive bacteria are destro[censored] by a generous intake of yogurt or acidophil us milk or culture, the anemia is corrected provided the diet contains folic acid. Because foods supplying cellulose, or roughage, and unrefined starches support the growth of valuable bacteria, whereas smooth and refined foods cannot, the diet generally recommended for diverticulosis appears to be the very one that should be avoided.

A nutrition program designed to improve digestion, decrease gas formation, bring maximum relaxation, build strong intestinal walls which can resist ballooning, meet the needs of stress, and promote bacterial growth readily relieves diverticulosis. If inflammation has occurred, an anti-stress diet should be followed.

Whether or not diverticula, once formed, can be replaced by normal, healthy tissue is not known. Given a chance, however, the body has an amazing ability to rebuild itself.

Pancreatitis

The pancreas, a long, slender organ that secretes insulin and digestive enzymes, lies below and to the left of the stomach. An inflammation of this organ, or pancreatitis, has been produced by diets deficient in vitamin B6, protein, or certain amino acids, and by giving various drugs or chemicals. Human pancreatitis also occurs when the diet has been inadequate, and has resulted from cortisone or ACTH therapy. This fact indicates that stress, which causes an excessive production of these hormones, plays a major role in bringing about such an inflammation. Persons with pancreatitis also absorb and store abnormally large amounts of iron, a phenomenon characteristic of a vitamin B6 deficiency; and a lack of vitamin B6, quickly damages the pancreas.

During a mild inflammation, the tiny canal, or duct, leading from the pancreas to the small intestine becomes so swollen that fluid carrying digestive enzymes cannot p[censored] through it. When acutely inflamed, the pancreas loses its ability to produce these enzymes. Digestion, therefore, is incomplete and so few nutrients can be absorbed that recovery is markedly dela[censored] . Tremendous quantities of gas are formed, and fat is lost in the [censored] . When the illness is prolonged, hemorrhages often occur in the pancreas itself, the kidneys, and the retina of the eyes, as they do in diabetes when vitamin B6 is under supplied. The damaged cells in the pancreas are replaced by scar tissue which shrivels and may become calcified.

The person with pancreatitis need not restrict fats or other health-building foods, but oils and lecithin should be used liberally, solid fats temporarily avoided, and enzyme tablets or powdered enzymes added to every bite of food eaten; if gas occurs, the amount of enzymes should be immediately increased. For the first few days, the anti-stress formula should be taken every three hours with highly fortified milk; and no fewer than 60 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 300 units of vitamin E should be obtained daily. Yogurt and acidophilus milk, largely predigested during the culturing process, may be emphasized. Because there is always danger that the insulin-producing cells may be damaged, a highly adequate diet should be continued for many months.

In the past, diets for persons with digestive diseases have emphasized smoothness rather than nutritive value; yet a smooth diet does not necessarily build health. If maximum nutrition is obtained and every step taken to assure efficient absorption, recovery can be tremendously speeded up.


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