Causes of Diverticular Disease


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Cause of Diverticular Disease: Though not proven, the dominant theory is that a low-fiber diet is the main cause of diverticular disease. 1

Cause details for Diverticular Disease: Though not proven, the dominant theory is that a low-fiber diet is the main cause of diverticular disease. The disease was first noticed in the United States in the early 1900s. At about the same time, processed foods were introduced to the American diet. Many processed foods contain refined, low-fiber flour. Unlike whole-wheat flour, refined flour has no wheat bran.

Diverticular disease is common in developed or industrialized countries--particularly the United States, England, and Australia--where low-fiber diets are common. The disease is rare in countries of Asia and Africa, where people eat high-fiber vegetable diets.

Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Some fiber dissolves easily in water (soluble fiber). It takes on a soft, jelly-like texture in the intestines. Some fiber passes almost unchanged through the intestines (insoluble fiber). Both kinds of fiber help make stools soft and easy to pass. Fiber also prevents constipation.

Constipation makes the muscles strain to move stool that is too hard. It is the main cause of increased pressure in the colon. The excess pressure might be the cause of the weak spots in the colon that bulge out and become diverticula.

Diverticulitis occurs when diverticula become infected or inflamed. Doctors are not certain what causes the infection. It may begin when stool or bacteria are caught in the diverticula. An attack of diverticulitis can develop suddenly and without warning. 1

Underlying condition causes of Diverticular Disease: The list of possible underlying conditions (see also Misdiagnosis of underlying causes of Diverticular Disease) mentioned in various sources as possible causes of Diverticular Disease includes:

Diverticular Disease as a complication: Other conditions that might have Diverticular Disease as a complication might be potential underlying causes of Diverticular Disease. The list of conditions listing Diverticular Disease as a complication in our database includes:

Diverticular Disease as a symptom: Conditions listing Diverticular Disease as a symptom may also be potential underlying causes of Diverticular Disease. The list of conditions listing Diverticular Disease as a symptom in our database includes:

Related information for causes of Diverticular Disease: Further relevant information on causes of Diverticular Disease may be found in the risk factors for Diverticular Disease and underlying causes of Diverticular Disease.

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis: NIDDK

Last revision: May 27, 2003

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