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Eating Too Much Red Meat Increases The Risk For Diverticulitis

Update Date: Jan 10, 2017 09:40 AM EST
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A research reveals that high intake of red meat increases the risk of diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a common disease wherein small pockets in the lining of the small intestine, diverticula, become inflamed. This common bowel condition accounts for more than 200,000 hospital admissions per year in the US alone.

An observational study conducted for the Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined the link between high intake of red meat, poultry, and fish with the occurrence of diverticulitis. Nearly 46,500 men took part in the study which was monitored from 1986 until 2012. Every four years, the men were asked about how often they ate a standard size portion of red meat, including processed meat, poultry, and fish, over the preceding year.

The researchers found that out of the nearly 46,500 men, 764 of them developed diverticulitis over the 26-year duration of the study. Men who ate more red meat and most likely used anti-inflammatory medicine and painkillers, who smoke more often and were less likely to exercise were the candidates with a higher chance of developing diverticulitis. Men who ate more poultry and/or fish smoked less, and exercise vigorously was less likely to develop diverticulitis.

A high intake of red meat such as the unprocessed kind like steaks, has the highest risk of developing diverticulitis unlike the consumption of processed meat, poultry, or fish. Eating a lot of red meat accounted 58 percent increase in the risk of diverticulitis, and this rate grows by 18 percent for each daily serving of the food item. Even one serving per week appears to increase the risk but plateaus after six servings per week.

The good news is, substitution of at least one meal of red meat with poultry or fish reduces the risk.

The research published in the journal Gut, does not explain how high red meat intake could cause diverticulitis and further studies are required. But the researchers note that high intake of red meat is linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It could also be because red meat alters the microbial community structure in the gut thus changing the metabolism of the bacteria in the colon thus leading to diverticulitis.

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