Are you a red-meat-and-potatoes kind of guy? A nice cut of beef is OK in moderation, but a new study published in the journal Gut found that men who eat too much red meat can have a much higher risk of diverticulitis, or painful inflammation of the colon.
Diverticulitis affects more than 50 percent of Americans over the age of 60 and occurs when small pouches form and push outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.
Most people who develop such pouches suffer no problems, but around 5 percent develop diverticulitis. If left untreated, diverticulitis can lead to colon blockages or tears. Treatment options include increasing fiber intake, medicines and probiotics, or a liquid diet.
To conduct the study, the team analyzed records from a long-term study of more than 46,000 men, looking specifically at their red meat intake. Over the course of 26 years, a total of 764 of the men developed diverticulitis. Results showed those who ate an average of 12 servings of red meat per week were 58 percent more likely to develop diverticulitis compared with those who only ate about one serving of red meat weekly.
The researchers stressed that while the study did not prove red meat was the sole cause of diverticulitis, it still provides another reason to moderate how often you should eat red meat. Too much red meat has also been known to cause heart disease and certain cancers. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, you should limit red meat consumption to no more than 18 ounces per week, or roughly four to six servings.