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Foods To Avoid For Hemorrhoids – Plus What To Eat

Are you suffering from hemorrhoids and dreading your next flare up? Maybe you are ready to make some changes and get rid of this problem for good. You need to know which foods to avoid for hemorrhoids.

In this article I explain the foods that can make hemorrhoids worse. I give you some practical tips on how to manage your diet so that hemorrhoids become a thing of the past.

Let’s get started feeling better!

What are hemorrhoids?

You’ve probably seen people with varicose veins in their legs – the puffy veins you see just under the skin. Hemorrhoids are pretty much the same thing, only in a part of your body where nobody sees them. 

These enlarged and inflamed veins are in the rectum. Internal hemorrhoids are inside the anus, and external hemorrhoids are under the skin around the outside of the anus. Hemorrhoids are sometimes called piles.

Hemorrhoids can become so irritated and inflamed that they bleed, showing up as bright red blood on the toilet paper. They cause discomfort and itching.

What causes hemorrhoids to flare up?

Anything that puts pressure and strain on this area of your body can result in hemorrhoids. Childbirth causes extreme pressure, and heavy lifting can also contribute to hemorrhoids.

Half of Americans over the age of 50 are suffering from hemorrhoids. This could be due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Many people spend their entire working day sitting in a chair, and then go home to watch TV or go on the computer. Sitting may not be extreme pressure, but it is a low level chronic pressure on your pelvic floor.

Inflammation in your intestines makes hemorrhoids worse. This can happen when the microbes in your gut get out of balance (1).

Probably the most common reason why half of Americans over the age of 50 have hemorrhoids is chronic constipation. Many things can cause constipation, but most often it is because you don’t get enough fiber in your diet, and don’t drink enough water.

Adults should eat between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. However studies suggest that only about 5% of Americans reach this goal (2).  

Are there foods that make hemorrhoids worse?

Usually, there is no one single food that is going to make hemorrhoids flare up. Rather, it is your overall eating pattern. 

If you eat ice cream one day for a treat, it is not going to cause hemorrhoids. (The exception might be if you are sensitive to that food.) But if you eat a lot of ice cream, milk and cheese every day, and don’t have any room for fresh fruits and vegetables, now you will run into trouble. 

Low fiber foods are the worst foods for hemorrhoids. These foods can cause chronic constipation when you overindulge:

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Ice cream
  • Meats
  • Low fiber processed foods
  • Foods made with refined flours
  • Fast foods
  • Peeled and fried vegetables like french fries or chips

Does this mean you should stop eating meat, and can never have ice cream? No! Again, we are looking at your overall diet. You want to eat these foods in moderation, balanced with a lot of high fiber foods every day.

Is chocolate bad for hemorrhoids?

Chocolate is not directly related to hemorrhoids. However, chocolate is one of the short list of foods that can cause intense anal itching, or pruritus ani. Basically, both hemorrhoids and chocolate can cause anal itching, for different reasons. So if itching is your problem, cutting back on chocolate might help (3).  

Is coffee bad for hemorrhoids?

Coffee is another common cause of pruritus ani. Like chocolate, it might cause itching that is unrelated to hemorrhoids. 

In the next section you will find a list of foods that are linked with pruritus ani. Stop eating these foods for two or three weeks and see if your itching goes away. Then you can add them back one at a time to pinpoint the culprit.

Can eating nuts cause hemorrhoids to bleed?

Nuts are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help prevent hemorrhoids. They also contain healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. 

If you notice that nuts are irritating your hemorrhoids, think about these questions. 

How many nuts are you eating at one time? It is easy to get carried away with salty nuts. You might be overloading your system, which could be responsible for your flareup. Stick to a serving of nuts, which is one ounce, or about ¼ cup.

Are you chewing your food well? A combination of poorly chewed nuts and possibly low stomach acid might result in nut particles coming out in your bowel movements. This might cause your hemorrhoids to bleed. When you eat hard foods like nuts and seeds, chew each bite 30-40 times before swallowing (4).  

Foods To Avoid With Hemorrhoids

These foods are associated with pruritus ani and can trigger anal irritation and itching:

  • Cola
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Beer 
  • Tomatoes
  • Spicy foods with chili peppers

These foods are low in fiber and can make you constipated when you eat too much of them:

  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Refined flours
  • Processed foods
  • Fries and chips

What should you eat when you have hemorrhoids?

Make sure you are eating enough dietary fiber. Dietary fiber comes from plants. It is the part of the plant that you cannot break down and absorb. The fiber stays in your digestive tract and creates bulk in your stool. This tends to move things along so that you are going to the bathroom more often.

Gradually begin to add more fiber to your meals. If you increase your fiber all at once you are likely to have a lot of gas and bloating. Your digestive system isn’t used to dealing with that much indigestible material. 

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

There are two categories of dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water, as the name suggests. This means it absorbs water in your digestive tract and forms a sort of gel. For example, think of what happens to oats when you cook them. This makes your stool softer and bulkier, and easier to pass (2).   

Insoluble fiber does not absorb water. For instance, celery has mostly insoluble fibers. If you were to boil celery, it wouldn’t absorb water or form a gel. This type of fiber is also important to prevent constipation. It draws water into the digestive tract and helps to move food through your system. These plant fibers provide food for the microbes in your gut, creating an overall healthy environment down there.

It may seem complicated – which type of fiber should you eat? Most people should eat a variety of high fiber foods so that they get the benefits of both types of fiber. And the good news is that many plants are a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, so nature did the work for you.

High fiber foods for hemorrhoids

To add more fiber to your diet, eat lots of plant foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The list below gives you some foods that are especially good for fiber.

Here are some ways to increase your fiber intake.

  • Try to eat at least five different vegetables every day, and one or two fruits. Eat a variety of grains.
  • Eat legumes at least 3 or 4 times a week. There are so many to choose from! Mix it up with chickpeas, kidney beans, black eyed peas, cannellini beans, lentils, split peas, moong dal, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans or edamame.
  • Avocados are super high in fiber.
  • Green peas are a high fiber vegetable.
  • Blackberries and raspberries are the best types of berries to increase your fiber.
  • Chia seeds can boost your fiber. Try a chia pudding. 
  • Choose whole grains as much as possible.
  • Oatmeal is such an easy breakfast food. It is high in soluble fiber, which may also help lower cholesterol.
  • Quinoa, millet, amaranth and teff are some high fiber grains and grasses that can put some variety into your diet.

Who should not eat a lot of fiber?

If you have a condition like gastroparesis, or a loss of muscle movement in your digestive tract, you will need a more tailored approach. A high fiber diet may not be right for you. 

If you have Crohn’s disease, an obstruction in your colon, or previous bowel surgery, follow your doctor’s advice on how much fiber to eat. This might not be a complete list of conditions, so it is up to you to make sure that it’s appropriate to increase your fiber (2). Always check with your doctor or nutritionist before making changes to your diet. 

Drink plenty of water.

Your body needs water for a lot of different reasons. For example, your body temperature is regulated by fluids like sweat. Blood, lymph and connective tissue all require a lot of water. 

If you are dehydrated, your body draws as much water as it can from your digestive system. This leaves you with hard, dry stool, and is the recipe for constipation.

A rule of thumb is to divide your body weight (in pounds) in half, and then convert it to ounces. This is how much water to drink during the day. This might need some adjusting based on your size or medical conditions, so it is not an across the board recommendation. Check with your doctor or nutritionist.

The Back End

Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and scary, but eating the right foods can help. Since hemorrhoids are often caused by pressure, constipation might be a culprit. Make sure you are getting enough fiber in your meals, and drinking enough water during the day. 

Some foods are associated with a condition called pruritus ani, which is extreme anal itching. This can be confused with, or aggravate, hemorrhoids. You can avoid these foods for a few weeks to see if your itching gets better.

Eat lots of plants to help prevent constipation. Milk, meat, cheese, refined flours and processed and fast foods are all low in fiber. Some of these foods, like milk, meat and cheese, still provide essential nutrients. However, eat them in moderation, along with a lot of high fiber plant foods.

If you are not used to eating high fiber foods, add them to your meals gradually.

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