Haemorrhoids are a common problem for many throughout the world. They can be painful and are likely to itch profusely, but they usually clear up on their own without medical intervention. They flare up when blood vessels in the rectum and anus are put under pressure, manifesting as lumps in and around the rectum or just outside the anus. People with haemorrhoids can experience itching, discomfort and evening bleeding, which can be alarming for anyone.
Doctors can prescribe medication to help deal with haemorrhoids (or piles, as they’re often known) once they occur, but treatments can often be administered at home, and a variety of other methods exist that help patients recover from haemorrhoids quickly, or avoid them altogether.
One major factor in combating the effects of haemorrhoids is food. Eating the right kinds of food in the right quantities can reduce your chances of getting haemorrhoids in the first place, and can assist your body during recovery if they do appear.
Let’s take a look at which foods help and hinder recovery from this troublesome condition.
What to eat when you have haemorrhoids
Fibre is the key here.
Haemorrhoids often occur on the back of a bout of constipation, when the bowel is put under increased pressure for a period of time as the patient strains to pass stool. This causes blood vessels to struggle in the rectal and anal regions and can lead to the development of painful haemorrhoid lumps, which can appear inside or outside the body in varying degrees of severity.
In order to avoid extreme bowel movements (constipation or diarrhoea), medical professionals advise people to consume plenty of high-fibre food to help the body handle the passing of stool in a comfortable, healthy way. Fibre helps soften stool, making it much easier to pass out of the body and avoid the risk of haemorrhoids.
Foods high in fibre include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains such as brown rice, cracked wheat, and quinoa. If you’re suffering from haemorrhoids, try eating high-fibre bran or Shredded Wheat for breakfast; you could also try a bran muffin or fruit with natural yogurt. For lunch or dinner, ditch the salty snacks in favour of whole-wheat pasta, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, squash or any variety of beans.
Of course, overdoing it on the fibre can also lead to problems. Fibre is the indigestible part of carbohydrates and plants, and too much of it can lead to a build-up of gas, bloating and constipation – if you consume more than 70 grams of fibre a day, for instance, you put yourself at risk of suffering from these symptoms. Optimal levels of fibre intake vary based on age, gender and other factors, but it is generally agreed that 25g per day for women and 38g per day for men are ideal.
If you eat the right among of fibre by working more fruit, vegetables, beans and whole wheat into your diet, your digestive system will be healthier. You may also experience lower blood pressure and have fewer problems with weight, the heart and diabetes as you get older.
However, fibre isn’t all you need. It’s also vital that you drink plenty of fluids and remain hydrated throughout the day if you want to avoid the appearance of haemorrhoids. Doctors recommend drinking between 32 and 64 ounces of water each day
It is also important to stay hydrated, so drink at least 32 to 64 ounces of water every day and supplement it with fruit juices, clear soups and herbal drinks. Drinking lots of liquid throughout the day helps balance out your fibre intake, making you less likely to experience bowel movement problems and, in turn, haemorrhoids.
It’s also a good idea to combine a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise, and avoid straining to lift very heavy items if you have haemorrhoids or have had them previously.
What to avoid eating if you have haemorrhoids
If you’re unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with haemorrhoids, start off your recovery by making changes to your diet. Increase consumption of fibre and liquids to help reduce your chances of becoming constipated and exacerbating the problem further, but also take steps to avoid certain foods that will not help at all in your recovery process.
Several food types can irritate haemorrhoids further. To start off with, try to avoid eating too many fatty foods such as fast food (like burgers or pizza), cheese, chips, ice cream, pre-prepared or frozen meals, fatty meats or processed food. All of these food types contain little or no fibre and are likely to just make matters worse in the long run.
Secondly, reduce your alcohol consumption as much as possible. If you can cut it out of your diet entirely, even better. Your body will have a much better chance of recovering quickly from haemorrhoids if less alcohol is entering your system.
Thirdly, try to avoid eating too much spicy food. While the food itself has no real bearing on haemorrhoids, it contains capsaicin, which can cause stomach problems. Bloating and gas can quickly lead to diarrhoea, which will have a negative impact on your recovery from haemorrhoids by putting fresh strain on your anal and rectal regions. Take a break from the Indian takeaways until your haemorrhoids clear up entirely.
It’s also a good idea to trim your intake of dairy foods, including ice-cream and cheese. Not only does dairy contain no fibre whatsoever, it actually irritates your bowel and can cause constipation. A common misconception exists that cheese curd is a natural cure for haemorrhoids, but this isn’t true. Reduce your dairy intake during your bout of haemorrhoids, if possible.
Just a few simply changes to your diet can help reduce your risk of developing haemorrhoids, or help them clear up faster if they’re already there. Give some thought to what you eat and see how you can make your diet that bit healthier to help avoid problems in future.