Fruit vs vegetables: What’s best for decreasing diverticulitis risk?

US study suggests fibre from one makes a difference while fibre from the other doesn’t
2nd September 2019 By Reuters Health
Women who get more fibre from fruits and cereals are less likely to develop diverticulitis, while vegetable sources of fibre don’t make much difference, a US study suggests.
The researchers followed 50,019 women aged 43-70 with no history of diverticulitis, cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
They found during the 24-year period, 4343 women developed diverticulitis.
Women who consumed the most fibre — close to 27g a day — were 14% less likely to develop diverticulitis than those with the lowest amounts of fibre in their diet (13g a day).
Those who consumed the most fruit fibre — around 1.7g a day — were 17% less likely to develop the condition than their counterparts who ate the least fruit fibre, at 1.4g daily.
Every additional daily serving of whole fruits and specific fruits like apples, pears and prunes was associated with a 5% lower risk of diverticulitis, the study found.
However, some other fruits, including bananas, peaches, plums and apricots, didn’t appear to help reduce the risk.
Women who consumed the most cereal fibre each day — around 9.8g — were 10% less likely to develop diverticulitis than those who ate the least (around 2.9g).
“People concerned about developing diverticulitis, particularly those with a history of the disease who are worried about another episode, might want to consider increasing their intake of fibre, particularly from fruits,” said Dr Andrew Chan, senior author of the study and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Meanwhile, consuming more vegetable fibre also seemed connected to a lower risk of diverticulitis.
But the difference between low and high amounts of this fibre in the diet was small and could have been due to chance.
One limitation of the study was that the researchers relied on women to report their own eating habits and diverticulitis diagnosis.
Another drawback was that the researchers lacked data on the duration or severity of diverticulitis episodes.
Even so, the results offered fresh evidence of the importance of dietary fiber for optimal health, Dr Chan said.
“When we eat fibre, our bodies, in collaboration with naturally occurring bacteria in our intestines, breaks it down into specific proteins that in turn might reduce inflammation which could predispose us to diverticulitis,” Dr Chan said.