Hemorrhoids are a common occurrence that’s often related to the characteristics of your stool and how easy it is for your bowels to pass said stools. So, what’s food got to do with it? The foods you eat and the liquids you consume help determine the nature of your stools.
Dr. Betsy Clemens and her team at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center are experts at treating hemorrhoids with effective, nonsurgical solutions, such as infrared coagulation (IRC). Dr. Clemens is also focused on helping prevent hemorrhoids and the discomfort they cause. One way of doing that is to make a few changes to your diet.
You are what you eat
It’s an often-repeated adage and research-proven fact that the foods and beverages you consume regularly can greatly impact your health. It’s certainly true that what you eat and drink directly influences the types of stools you produce -- and hemorrhoids are often linked to the nature of your stools.
Infrequent or difficult-to-pass stools, for instance, may result in the bulging anal or rectal veins associated with hemorrhoids as you’re forced to strain excessively during a bowel movement. Frequent bouts of diarrhea also irritate and inflame rectal veins and can evolve into hemorrhoids. If you already have hemorrhoids, faulty stools can worsen the discomfort or bleeding you’re experiencing.
One of the key components of managing or preventing diet-related hemorrhoids is to follow a balanced nutrition plan -- one that includes enough fiber to keep your stools soft but formed and occurring on a regular basis. For most people, this adds up to 25-30 grams of fiber daily.
Solving the fiber puzzle
More fiber and lots of water is a quick answer to what you should include on the menu if you’re worried about hemorrhoids. Fiber comes in two types, however, and it’s the soluble fiber that keeps your stools soft but well-formed and easy to pass.
Found in foods like oats, soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like substance when mixed with the water that’s added during the digestive process. The second type of fiber is insoluble, sometimes called roughage. It adds bulk to your stool and keeps things moving through your system, but it does not dissolve.
Generally, Dr. Clemens recommends that about one-third of your daily fiber intake consist of soluble fiber. Many fiber-rich foods contain both types of fiber. And you’ll need 8-10 large glasses of water per day to keep all this fiber moving through your system.
Foods to embrace
Beans, lentils, and nuts are fiber-rich foods that can add a boost of flavor to salads, chilis, and rice. Depending on the type you choose, a half cup of beans can contain 7-10 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. It takes just 20 almonds to add 3 grams of fiber to your salad. A half cup of edamame adds the same fiber grams as the almonds but about half the calories.
Other high-fiber foods to choose include:
- Whole-grain bread
- Wheat germ or oat bran
- Instant or regular oatmeal
- Salads that include dark leafy green vegetables, such as kale or spinach
- Green peas
- Summer squash
Most fruits and some foods, such as potatoes, hold some of their fiber and many other nutrients in the skin. Choose thin-skinned fruits such as apples, pears, and plums to help ensure you get the fiber and flavor you desire.
Foods to avoid
Low-fiber foods that can cause or worsen constipation and lead to hemorrhoids include:
- Milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy foods
- Processed foods such as sandwich meat, pizza, frozen meals, and other fast foods
For more information about what you can do to manage your hemorrhoid symptoms, schedule a visit with Dr. Clemens today. Call our office in Creve Coeur, Missouri, or book your appointment online.