Hemorrhoids, How Does Your Diet Affect Them?
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that occur around the anus or lower rectum. They may be internal, which means they develop inside the body or external, forming under the skin around the anus. Hemorrhoids generally result from straining during bowel movements due to constipation or diarrhea, pregnancy, and obesity. Long-distance running can frequently cause issues as well.
What are Common Hemorrhoid Symptoms?
The first step is to identify what type of hemorrhoid it is (external/internal). They may look like large bumps around the anus or lower rectum. Symptoms include itching, pain, bleeding, and a hard lump near the anus that may protrude outside the body.
Typical hemorrhoid symptoms are:
- Anal itching.
- Pain around the anus during bowel movement.
- Mucus discharge from the rectum (when not suffering from diarrhea).
- Skin tags on the outside of the anus (more common with children than adults).
- Bleeding that is bright red or black (old blood) during/after a bowel movement.
What foods should you avoid?
Hemorrhoids (“named after the Greek word for blood vessels), also known as piles, are vascular structures in the anal canal. They’re formed by the dilation of veins within the submucosa of the anal canal, resulting in swelling around the anus.
The symptoms include painless bleeding during bowel movement, itching, and irritation around or on the anus. Piles may occur due to straining due to constipation or diarrhea. Hemorrhoids caused due to chronic diarrhea or tenesmus will invariably be associated with other significant pathology such as colorectal cancer.
Foods that tend to cause hemorrhoids include:
- Fried foods due to their greasiness
- Chocolate for its caffeine content
- Milk for the high amount of calcium it contains
- Alcohol because it dehydrates the body
- Constipating foods like nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables
Spicy food is not usually a hemorrhoid trigger, but if someone has hemorrhoids that are already inflamed and irritated, eating spicy food could cause them to bleed.
What foods could help?
Many foods can help relieve hemorrhoid symptoms. Some of the best options include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and water. These foods are packed with fiber and nutrients to help your digestive system be healthy and reduce inflammation.
The following fruits and vegetables are especially good because of their antioxidants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be added to salads or eaten raw.
Water is essential for proper digestion. Drinking plenty of water will help soften stool and flush out toxins that cause hemorrhoid flare-ups. Aim for 64 ounces every day, if possible.
Raw fruits and vegetables high in fiber but low in calories can help relieve hemorrhoid symptoms by softening stool and reducing constipation. Apples, berries, pears, plums, grapefruit, oranges, cucumbers, celery, broccoli raab, zucchini, and squash are excellent choices. These foods contain antioxidants and flavonoids that aid in the digestive process.
Many people find that avoiding dairy products helps relieve hemorrhoid symptoms. Dairy products can be hard to digest and increase inflammation in the gut. If you choose to include dairy in your diet, make sure it is low-fat and eat it in moderation.
Lean protein is a good choice for hemorrhoid sufferers because it is easy to digest and contains unhealthy fats. Good lean protein sources include skinless poultry, fish, legumes, tofu, and eggs.
Whole grains are another excellent option for hemorrhoid sufferers because they are high in fiber and other nutrients that can help improve digestion. Recommended grains are oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and pasta.
Many hemorrhoid sufferers find that simply making dietary changes is enough to relieve symptoms, but some require more intense treatment. Depending on the severity of your hemorrhoids, you may need to include certain supplements or products in your daily routine.
The bottom line is that certain foods can aggravate hemorrhoid symptoms, but many foods can help. By eating a healthy diet packed with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and water, you can keep your digestive system functioning well and reduce inflammation. If hemorrhoids are still a problem after making dietary changes, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Ask your doctor about HemWell, an FDA-approved, pain-free treatment that’s permanent. If your provider doesn’t offer HemWell, we can assist you in finding one that does. Please visit our website to learn more about this life-changing treatment. Learn more about hemorrhoids.