Diverticular Disease: Readers’ Solutions


My recent article on diverticular disease (16 June) prompted several readers to send in their own solutions to this distressing digestive condition, which occurs when small pouches (diverticula) form on the colon. The symptoms are intermittent lower abdominal pain and/or bloating, sometimes with diarrhoea or constipation.

  • Fiona, who says the pain aged her by ten years, found that food combining using the Hay Diet gave her immediate relief. ‘It’s so easy to follow,’ she says, ‘simply do not eat carbohydrates and protein together. Eat either carbs or protein with vegetables – just don’t combine potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, etc, with meat or fish.’ A useful book on this subject is The Complete Book of Food Combining by Kathryn Marsden (Piatkus, £14.99*).
  • Nigel, who suffered for eight years, stopped the course of antibiotics he’d been taking on his doctor’s advice. ‘Then along came manuka honey from New Zealand,’ he says. ‘I eat a teaspoonful every morning – two if I feel discomfort coming on – and the activity in my guts has not reappeared for 13 years. It is not cheap, but for me it has been a blessing.’ Comvita UMF Manuka Honey 10+ costs £17.55 for a 500g jar.
  • Ten years ago, one reader’s husband was advised to take acidophilus, a well-documented probiotic. ‘He has done this ever since, and has had no further symptoms,’ she says. BioCare Acidophilus, £21.35 for 60g, from victoriahealth.com.
  • Finally, David says: ‘My 95-year-old mother-in-law’s uncontrollable bowel movements [due to diagnosed diverticulitis] were a big problem until we discovered slippery elm capsules, which she takes with meals. This has made a huge difference and reduced the problem dramatically.’ Bio Health Slippery Elm, £8.90 for 60 capsules, from victoriahealth.com.

Although individual responses vary, these simple measures are unlikely to do any harm, but please consult your doctor first. These solutions may also help with irritable bowel syndrome.

When it’s not good to talc

Talcum powder is great to sprinkle in shoes and sandals when you are going sockless, but women should avoid using it regularly for what researchers call ‘intimate personal hygiene’. Particles can travel into the body and cause inflammation, which – according to a recent review of data – can increase the risk of ovarian cancer by nearly a quarter. The lifetime risk is extremely small, according to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer (targetovariancancer.org.uk), but it’s best to be cautious.

3 of the best Vegetarian ready meals

  • COOK vegetarian meals, cookfood.net Cook offers an overnight online delivery service, in addition to its shops. Our tester loved the frozen veggie mains and sides, which tasted home-cooked: ‘As well as staples such as macaroni cheese and nut roast, they use pulses instead of meat substitutes with tasty sauces and spices.’ Butternut Squash and Spinach Tartlets, £3.99 for two.
  • Amy’s Kitchen, amyskitchen.co.uk This family-run business sells a selection of mostly organic frozen meals, some of them gluten free. Portions were on the small side, our tester felt, but provided a wholesome ready meal on a budget. Available from Tesco and other supermarkets. Thai Red Curry, £3.49 for 285g.
  • Linda McCartney FOODS, lindamccartneyfoods.co.uk Good for those who like meat-style meals, eg, rosemary sausages, and the pot meals made quick lunches. From Tesco and other supermarkets. Chilli Non
    Carne, £2.60 for 400g.

Book of the week
Emma Cannon’s Total Fertility (Macmillan, £14.99*)

I have already recommended this book to several readers. The author, an acupuncturist who works closely with Western medicine specialists including the Lister Fertility Clinic, has become well known for her holistic approach. As well as treating couples’ fertility problems, she addresses all stages of the reproductive cycle, including the menopause.

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