Eww! This may not be the most enjoyable post you've read all day, but it's quite an eye-opener, I think. However, don't read this while you're eating!
My friend, who shall remain nameless at her request, was diagnosed with diverticulitis yesterday and is on bed rest until Friday. Diverticulitis is inflammation of small weak spots in the intestine called diverticula.
A possible cause of diverticulitis is not eating enough fiber. Here's a copy-and-paste from the article linked below that reinforces my stance on processed food:
Although 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 into 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.
Find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of diverticulitis here.
One of the reasons I was so motivated by this information is that I know first hand how diverticulitis can affect you. My mom was diagnosed with the condition in 1998; she had a diverticula that burst, which of course caused toxic waste to leak into her abdominal cavity. Because her symptoms were so acute, she actually had to undergo surgery, and, at the age of 42, had a colostomy. Fortunately, she only had to have the colostomy for a year, but it was to give the bowel a rest. Can you imagine? She hated it, and said she wanted to die every day that she had the damn thing.
Grossed out yet? Still with me? Okay, then! Here's a little list of high fiber foods* - only a few so I don't overwhelm everyone:
Bran Cereals, 5-10 grams/serving
Bread, whole grain
Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Nuts (Almonds, Brazil nuts, Peanuts, Walnuts, Cashews)
The recommended amount of fiber you should have every day is 25-30 grams; for reference, 1 cup of oatmeal provides 12 grams.
So, eat your vegetables, fruits and grains, guys! You won't be sorry.
*All information obtained on About.com.