Diverticulosis is no fun, but whole-grain cereals can help prevent it. Like other whole-grain products, these breakfast staples have plenty of fiber to help stop painful intestinal pouches from forming. A word of warning -- always check the ingredients list before splurging on cereals. Put the box back down if the first ingredient is not a whole grain. Otherwise, the cereal won't be as fiber rich.
Diverticulosis is a condition in which small pouches develop in the large intestine, or colon. They protrude outward from the main cavity, inviting small food particles to get wedged inside. These pouches easily become inflamed, irritated, infected or even painful. Although you probably won't get diverticulosis as a young adult, it becomes a concern with age; about 50 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have it. Often asymptomatic, diverticulosis may cause bloating, constipation or abdominal cramps. If the pouches become infected, you then have diverticulitis.
Help from Grains
Lack of fiber is the number-one cause of diverticulosis. And in this case, prevention sure beats treatment. Once you have this condition, there's no turning back -- and full-blown diverticulitis could land you in the hospital. Interestingly, diverticulosis barely existed before refined flours entered the food world. That's because the milling process removes most of the fiber from wheat and other grains. Fortunately, it's easy to get enough fiber in your diet with the help of whole grains from cereal or other foods. Keep in mind, however, that fiber does not reverse existing diverticulosis.
Protect yourself against diverticulosis with cereals made from whole grains such as oats, wheat and brown rice. Always check the label to make sure that a whole grain is listed as the first ingredient. Also note the amount of sugar in the cereal. Even whole-grain cereals may have more than 27 percent added sugar. One terrific cereal option is non-instant oatmeal, which you can flavor yourself with fiber-packed raisins or dried cranberries for sweetness. Puffed brown rice is another excellent choice.
Whole Grain Benefits
That whole-grain cereal does much more than just protect your colon. Including unrefined grains in your diet may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain cancers. Fiber is also filling but does not contain any calories, so you may even lose weight. In addition to cereal, you may also get your whole-grain goodness from brown rice, quinoa, corn tortillas, whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.