Foods to Eat and to Avoid for Hemorrhoids

Foods to Eat and to Avoid for Hemorrhoids: Living with hemorrhoids can be a hellish experience, unless you know what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. You can even improve the quality of life immensely by knowing a few no-cost tricks that help reduce bleeding, inflammation and relieve pain and itching associated with the condition.

Hemorrhoids can occur at virtually any age, to any person. Those most at risk of developing them are adults and 50+ people living a sedentary lifestyle, battling recurrent, chronic constipation and enjoying a bad diet, rich in processed foods and low in dietary fiber. It has been found that genetics also plays a part in hemorrhoids occurrence, but the condition can be successfully prevented or managed without having to resort to costly and painful medical procedures by improving two key-aspects of your life: diet and exercise.

Hemorrhoids

Up next, read simple, cheap and efficient home treatments that can turn around your hemorrhoids experience for the better. Here are 5 things that make hemorrhoids better:

1) Dietary fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber such as whole grains (whole wheat, oat, barley) or nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) are essential for good transit and easy defecation. Dietary fiber basically adds bulk to stools, facilitating passage through the intestinal tract. Stools need to get bulky enough to make the muscles of the intestinal tract contract in view of eliminating them. Having oatmeal for breakfast, whole wheat pasta for lunch or pumpkin seeds for a midday snack prevents constipation, and thus strain, leading to effortless defecation that does not upset existing hemorrhoids.

2) Fruits and veggies. Although they may not contain as much dietary fiber as nuts and seeds or whole grains, they are needed to replace the unhealthy, constipating foods in your diet while supplying you with needed vitamins, minerals, calories and other nutrients. After all, one has to eat. But eating more natural foods prevents the condition from worsening. Kiwifruit, oranges, grapes, berries, apples, bananas, watermelons, pumpkins, legumes and green leafy vegetables are all rich in both dietary fiber and water and help with hemorrhoids in two ways: first they prevent constipation and, secondly, they help keep the intestines clean and ensure optimal transit time, all key-elements in reducing hemorrhoids discomfort.

3) Natural, unsaturated fatty acids. Healthy, natural fats such as those found in extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, tuna, salmon and so on are ideal for anyone dealing with hemorrhoids. Fats help lubricate the passage of our bowel movements, reducing strain and friction which may upset hemorrhoid veins. In addition to this, healthy fats such as these contribute to cardiovascular health and supply good amounts of antioxidants.

4) Herbal remedies to improve intestinal transit time. Drinking herbal infusions made from fennel seeds, senna leaf, licorice root or dandelion can help calm down hemorrhoid flare-ups. All four plants help improve transit time, promote contractions of the intestinal muscles and thus prevent constipation, the main cause of hemorrhoid flare-ups. You can add chamomile and melissa tea for relaxation as well. Other combinations that may work for you are welcome. The daily recommended dose is 1-3 cups of tea, but it might be best to ask your doctor for advice on the correct dosage. Pregnant women and anyone suspecting they may be allergic to certain plants should consult a doctor first.

5) Lots of liquids. People dealing with hemorrhoids know that constipation makes everything worse. And a sure way to prevent it is to drink sufficient amounts of liquids, namely water, fruit juices and teas. I say ‘sufficient amounts of liquids’ because every person is different and not all of us need the same liquid intake. If you have a small build, you may need as little as 1.5 liters of water a day. If you have a bigger build, you may drink up to 3 liters of water a day.

A sure way to know how much liquids you need is to make sure you always have water at the reach of your hand so you can drink it whenever you feel thirsty. This way you will stay hydrated enough to prevent constipation and hemorrhoid flare-ups, but won’t drink more than you need, risking mineral deficiencies.

Foods for hemorrhoids

If you do not pay attention to diet and continue on the same path, your hemorrhoids can get worse up to the point they start bleeding, itching like crazy and incredibly painful. So what makes hemorrhoids worse?

1) Too much white bread, processed foods such as biscuits, cakes, muffins, puff pastry, candy, pies, doughnuts and so on promotes constipation. In its turn, constipation leads to strain and hemorrhoid flare-ups.

2) Too much meat. Eating meat all the time constipates due to the fact that it is low in dietary fiber. Opt for grilled pork neck with olive oil or lean chicken meat such as chicken thigh to get your supply of proteins and healthy fats at the same time.

3) Spicy foods. Ginger, pepper, hot peppers can cause even quiet hemorrhoids to get swollen up to the point you cannot sit down without feeling serious discomfort. While they may be healthy, it is recommended to consume them with great care or avoid them altogether if your hemorrhoids are acting up.

4) Eating dairy products. Dairy products tend to have a constipating effect on many people. While kefir or sour milk help with bowel transit, hard cheeses, cow milk and their by products may promote constipation which causes strain which, in turn, worsens hemorrhoid disease. This is because most diary products are harder to digest, slowing down the digestion process and normal bowel transit.

5) Lack of exercise. Avoid sitting down for extended periods of time to reduce pressure on your bottom area. Get up from your chair every 20-30 minutes and walk for 5 minutes to get your circulation started and ease pressure. You can also do squats, lunges, leg lifts, but no more than 10-15 because strain on your lower body muscles also upsets hemorrhoids.

While surgery is the only way to get rid of hemorrhoids for good (in most cases), dietary changes are the only ones that make the condition tolerable, prevent it from progressing or reappearing. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, as little processed as possible can improve your condition and its prognostis immensely in only a couple of weeks. Drinking sufficient liquids and exercising a bit help with blood circulation. It takes a while to adopt certain dietary changes and adapt them to your lifestyle requirements, but results can be downright amazing.

If you feel your hemorrhoids acting up, here are 12 great tips to reduce inflammation, pain and itching and restore proper circulation:

1) Exercise a bit. Swimming, jogging, walking all stimulate circulation and ease pressure on the bottom area, helping you better manage hemorrhoids in the long term. But if they are acting up, moderate exercising such as walking in the park or to the grocery store can help reduce discomfort by restoring normal circulation. Remember to avoid intense physical activity. This means avoiding lifting weights, heavy things or strain, including abdominal strain. Strain of any kind to your abdominal area, including strain from forcing out bowel movements, increases pressure and causes hemorrhoids to bleed.

2) Get a massage. Have a specialist or your significant other massage your lower back, bottom and upper and lower legs to get your blood flowing. Restoring circulation will not only relax you and make you feel more energized, but it also helps reduce pressure and help you better manage the pain.

3) Take your vitamins. Taking vitamin C daily is an excellent way to maintain your colon healthy and preserve blood vessel integrity. And because hemorrhoids are nothing more than swollen blood vessels that tend to collapse and bleed at the slighest strain or pressure, high doses of vitamin C makes them less prone to bleeding. Vitamin C is also a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with the condition.

4) Use petroleum jelly. This is great for easing discomfort on especially bad days because it is an excellent lubricant promoting skin care. Petroleum jelly greatly helps reduce friction and pain and discomfort associated with the condition. Small amounts can be used internally as well, prior to defecating, so as to ease pain. Petroleum jelly is ideal because it is not absorbed by the skin, but rather stays on it preserving its moisture and reducing friction with underwear or skin-on-skin friction responsible for irritation and pain.

5) Do not scratch. Scratching damages the skin, irritates the hemorrhoids and increases itching and pain sensations. For this reason, sufferers are advised to abstain from scratching the area and resort to sitz baths instead.

6) Do not scrub hard. When washing, gently clean the bottom area to avoid further discomfort. Avoid scratching or rubbing the area excessively with bath sponges or towels to avoid further itching, pain and bleeding.

7) Keep things clean. Bleeding blood vessels and damaged or irritated skin can easily get infected so wash regularly to prevent further complications. Use lukewarm water, mild soaps or gentle antibacterial products specific for the affected area.

8) Enjoy lukewarm sitting baths. While it may not sound as much, sitz baths or sitting baths offer great relief for hemorrhoid disease. Sit in lukewarm water 2-3 times a day, for about 10-15 minutes whenever your hemorrhoids tend to flare up. You can add medicinal plants such as chamomile to the water, but the bath itself should be enough.

9) Do not use conventional laxatives because laxative medication can be easily misused and cause diarrhea which, in turn, causes further irritation and soreness. Moreover, laxatives may be too hard on the already-irritated mucosa and may worsen symptoms.

10) Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen. The greater the amounts of aspirin or ibuprofen you take for pain relief, the higher the risk for bleeding hemorrhoids you have. If sitz baths, diet changes, medicinal remedies do not offer you the relief you seek, then it might be time to address your medical professional for a more definitive solution.

11) Do not postpone bowel movements. As soon as you feel the need to go to the bathroom, go. The longer you delay it, the worse it will be. The strain resulting from holding back will lead to more pain and a longer recovery time. It may help to eat at fixed hours. This should help give you a clear idea of your transit time so you know just about when you should go to the bathroom. This way you should not have to postpone it.

12) Avoid constipation. This is by far the most damaging for the progression of hemorrhoids disease which is why dietary changes and moderate exercising are vital to managing the condition. Overall, increasing your fruits and vegetables intake and decreasing your meat, dairy and processed foods intake is the most efficient solution to preventing constipation and managing hemorrhoids.




53 thoughts on “Foods to Eat and to Avoid for Hemorrhoids

  1. Hi! This is Rahul. I discovered I had piles a week ago and I started using Himalaya piles ointment and tablets and now the pain and irritation has been reduced but the skin is still thick at the place where it occured so please suggest to me what to do so it doesn’t occur next time in the future.
    I am feeling very good now, as normal, but I am scared that it will come next time again.

    • Hi, Rahul. Hemorrhoids (piles) usually occur when you have constipation and strain a lot when going to the bathroom. After they develop, they cause flare ups when you strain and pain, itching, bleeding, lumps may appear. The first thing to do to avoid hemorrhoids from bothering you again is to eat so that you have easy, soft bowel movements that don’t require you to make an effort to pass them. Like it says in the article, my experience with hemorrhoids has taught me that you have to eat a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables because they contain dietary fiber which makes stools soft and easy to pass. But you have to drink more water to help the fiber pass through easily. Instead of white breads, you have to eat whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oats) because refined cereals constipate and can make hemorrhoids worse. It also helped me to drink herbal teas that stimulated intestinal transit so I would go to the toilet every day and was less constipated. Also, I learnt that it is good to eat very little dairy and red meat and moderate amounts of poultry and fish because meat and dairy are hard to digest and make intestinal transit take more time, potentially leading to constipation and hemorrhoids flaring up. Beans, nuts and seeds are also great for soft, easy stools. I stoped eating processed foods as well. I also tried to spend less time sitting down, walked more when my hemorrhoids where bothering me and applied petroleum jelly to the area. I took vitamin C daily to reduce inflammation, washed the area with warm water and a gentle soap several times a day and enjoyed sitz baths. In my opionion, petroleum jelly and sitz baths are the best because they help calm the pain and reduce itching and inflammation and stop bleeding.
      When I first got hemorrhoids, I went to a doctor because I was scared there was blood and thought I was sick or something. My doctor told me I had hemorrhoids, first and second degree. He also told me that I could either change my eating to improve my condition and live with them for years to come without any more symptoms, or I would need surgery. So I changed the way I was eating, used petroleum jelly, enjoyed sitz baths, drank more water, became more active by walking more and I can now keep them under control. My advice is to see your doctor for an exam to see how your hemorrhoids are at this point and start making the changes you need to so they don’t bother you anymore. It’s more important to prevent them (prevent hard, dry stools and strain) than make them go away. Hope this helps.

  2. Hello, I’m Kala Sara, 24 years old. I have piles fistula problem for 6 months. How can I get relief for permanent piles fistula problem? Thanks.

    • Hello, Kala Sara. The remedy for piles depends on their stage. First and second degree piles (hemorrhoids) require one to eat plenty of dietary fiber (fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole cereals) and drink plenty of liquids. Dairy and meat are best consumed in small amounts because they can constipate and make piles worse. Avoiding spicy foods (ginger was awful for my hemorrhoids), alcohol, refined cereal and all forms of processed foods, devoid of any nutritional value is important. When they bother you, you can use petroleum jelly and take sitz baths, even massage the bottom area to help ease symptoms. Third and fourth degree piles are more difficult to manage because the blood vessels (the hemorrhoids) are already very inflammed and painful and may prolapse. Doctors often recommend surgery to eliminate them or less invasive surgical procedures to cut their blood supply and make them dry and fall out. With first and second degree piles you may have no problems for years if you eat right and avoid sedentarism and strain on the lower abdominal area, but third and fourth degree might bother you a lot. It is best to see your doctor and have him or her do an exam to see what degree your hemorrhoids are, then discuss what is the best treatment option for you personally. The dietary advice and tips outlined in this article are meant to help with hemorrhoids of all degrees, but they may be more useful for some and less for others, depending on what degree the hemorrhoids are.
      As for fistula, this still requires one to avoid constipation and strain when going to the toilet, but also maintain an excellent hygiene of the area. Sitz baths, hot and cold compresses, massaging the bottom area and avoiding lifting heavy objects can help offer relief. Fistulas can result in an infection, so your doctor is the one you should talk to about what your options are in terms of permanent relief. Wishing you lots of health.

  3. Hi Marius, thanks very much for your informative site. I’m Esme, 65 yrs old. I was diagnosed about 7 weeks ago with 2 internal piles. I have been trying to get on the correct foods since then and some days it’s easy passing motions and sometimes it’s very loose which results in quite a bit of pain afterwards. I’m having oats / AllBran with HI Fibre, honey in Soy milk with raisins and blueberries sometimes as well 2 strawberries for breakfast. Lunch is wholewheat bread with lettuce, baked beans or avocado and a low fat youghurt. Mid afternoon a peach or apple. Supper is brown rice with a green vege, carrots, and half a beetroot. Later on I have a few sunflower seeds, 2 prunes and a few raisins. I am drinking about 8 glasses of water, of those 8 there is 3 glasses with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Last night I had a vege dish with aubergines, tomato, onion, garlic, bit sweet red pepper, bit of yellow pepper and green pepper fried first in extra virgin olive oil then boiled. Today is a bit on the painful side, could this be a result from eating tomato and aubergines? First time I’ve tried to eat them since diagnosed. Can you please tell me if I’m on a correct diet or should I stay away from tomatoes – too much acid and will eggs be alright? I look forward to your reply. Thanks.

    • Hi, Esme. It seems to me you are on the right path when it comes to eating to control your hemorrhoids. From my experience, it takes some time to learn how to combine certain foods so stools aren’t too soft or too hard. It took me about 3 months until I learnt what and how to eat and I still have some soft ones occasionally. One thing I learnt is that while fiber is excellent, too much can irritate the area and maybe cause the piles to act up a bit. From what you describe, you are pretty much on a vegetarian diet. If your stools get too mushy sometimes, you can simply eat some protein like eggs, a little goat cheese or some chicken meat or fish, a little plain white rice, whatever of the sorts you may like. That’s what I did and do whenever I have too much fiber. Also, I would never take dietary fiber from supplements because you can easily get too much and get stools that are too soft and irritate you and have your piles act up. In the beginning, I tried overcoming constipation and hard stools by eating a lot of nuts and dried fruits. What I can tell you from my experience is that prunes are highly laxative so you can substitute them with something else if your fiber intake is already high. It’s just something about them that makes them a super-laxative food. Tomatoes were always fine for me. They never upset me in any way. Neither did aubergines.
      What I would avoid if I were you is the apple cider vinegar. I always drink carrot juice or herbal teas. As healthy as it may be, it is quite irritating for the stomach and the other areas below it comes into direct contact with. Maybe you have noticed there is this trend that recommends all sorts of things such as ginger, warm lemon water, pepper and the piperine extracted from it, spicy peppers and apple cider vinegar for absolutely everyone. While all of these do hold some medicinal properties, they tend to do more harm than good for some people. For example, ginger gave me the worst experience with hemorrhoids a few years back and I swore I would never eat it again. Everything that is too spicy will most likely irritate and inflame an already upset area it comes into direct contact with. Imagine rubbing pepper or ginger on piles. You get a similar result if you eat them because they get to the same place. As for apple cider vinegar and vinegar in general, it holds similarly irritating properties and may upset your piles.
      I know that everyone on the internet is currently recommending apple cider vinegar for everything, but the truth is it is highly irritating for sensitive mucosas such as our throat, stomach and lower areas. Vinegar in general is to be avoided if you have acid reflux, gastritis, stomach ulcers etc. Pepper and the piperine extracted from it are awful for hemorrhoids, gastritis, acid reflux and every sensitive and already irritated mucosa they come into contact with. Even if you consume small amounts, it’s the regular consumption that can contribute to the damage and inflammation of already sensitive mucosas. The same goes for the warm lemon water trend popular everywhere right now. Articles praising it aren’t really well documented. Yes, lemon juice is great, but it does have certain properties that are not necessarily good for many people. The acid in lemon juice can really damage teeth and irritate the stomach lining, making various gastrointestinal problems a lot worse. It isn’t likely to upset piles however.
      Ginger, pepper, piperine, hot peppers, vinegar (and warm lemon water) are not for everyone! I can tell you from experience that spicy foods don’t mix well with piles or gastritis, acid reflux, ulcers etc. The same beneficial compounds that give them spiciness and their health benefits can irritate, inflame, burn and eat through sensitive mucosas. Many websites nowadays are just hungry for news and don’t really warn us about the potential (and very real) side effects of certain foods and extracts they promote. Take the warm lemon water thing. It’s not good for your teeth, it won’t make you lose weight or get rid of toxins (because everything you eat, drink and breathe contributes to your health and one thing is not going to fix an overall problematic diet or life style), it irritates the stomach lining and can worsen gastritis, ulcers etc. Same goes for ginger, pepper, piperine, hot spices: they may be alright for a person with no stomach, acidity or piles problems, but they can sure worsen these problems if they are already there. Vinegar is quite irritating as well, so it’s likely to have similar effects.
      A good diet is always very soothing for piles, you just have to give it some time. You seem to be doing great: plenty of liquids, lots of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. Adjusting your fiber intake can seem difficult at first, but it’s practice that makes perfect. If you do have softer stools, you can have a sitz bath and use some petroleum jelly. This was what helped me get through the discomfort. It will get better. Hope this helps.

  4. Hi Marius, Thanks for all your information, it has really helped me. I will definitely buy nuts, seeds and dried fruit as you have advised and discontinue the apple cider vinegar, rather buy some herbal teas and carrot juice. Looking forward to getting better.

  5. Hi, I’m Margaret.
    For the last 7 weeks I have a bowel movement once a day in the morning and after it’s slightly painful. No straining etc. I get severe burning pain inside that can last for up to 7hrs. The only thing that slightly helps with the debilitating pain is codeine and rectogesic. I have seen a doctor whom was not very helpful. Do you think this could be internal hemorrhoids giving me this agonizing pain?

    • Hi, Margaret. My advice is to make an appointment at a doctor’s office and have a complete physical examination to confirm your hemorrhoids. This should include the doctor taking a look at the area to check for external hemorrhoids or thrombosed piles (blood clots inside the hemorrhoids). The doctor should then perform a digital physical exam to feel for any internal hemorrhoids or examine the area with a small camera to see where the hemorrhoids are, what degree they are and exclude other possible causes for your symptoms. My piles were diagnosed via a sigmoidoscopy, meaning the doctor looked at them with a tiny camera. I feel this was the best option for me because the doctor inspected the hemorrhoids up close and could see what degree they were as well as confirm that everything else was fine, excluding other more serious causes. I didn’t feel anything. The procedure was painless for me and I just spent 3 minutes lying on my side and looking at my hemorrhoids on a screen. If I knew it would be so easy, I wouldn’t have spent 3 months worried and crying about what it could have been. If there is any discomfort, although there shouldn’t be, your doctor can recommend an anesthetic.
      Your pain can be a result of hemorrhoids, but it can be caused by fissures or other causes. Only a professional medical examination can tell you what is causing your symptoms. If it’s really hemorrhoids and they aren’t fourth degree and prolapsing, then you can minimize your flare ups and get to a point where they aren’t upsetting you any more. Eating plenty of dietary fiber, drinking sufficient water, herbal teas to improve your transit (because maybe you should be having 2 or 3 bowel movements a day instead of one), eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, moderate amounts of protein and small, but sufficient amounts of healthy oils from nuts, seeds, olive oil etc. and excluding processed foods from your diet can offer great relief. In my experience, taking sitz baths and using petroleum jelly are two great ways to calm hemorrhoid pain and inflammation. Walking more and reducing time spent sitting are also great.
      There is no reason to feel ashamed or afraid of the examination. The camera exam is a sure way to diagnose piles and know what you can do about them afterwards. Because hemorrhoid symptoms are not very specific and can be a sign of 10 other conditions such as fissures or others. Remember that you are in control of everything. Ask the doctor to explain the procedure to you and understand that you can stop the examination at any time if you feel the need to. So go see a better doctor so you can start working on improving your health and feeling great. Wishing you lots of health!

    • Hi, Sam. It really doesn’t matter for hemorrhoids if the water is room temperature, warm or a little cold as long as you stay well hydrated. Water compliments the dietary fiber and helps soften stools and relieve constipation. Its temperature doesn’t affect hemorrhoids in any way. But if the water is too cold, for example, it might give you a sore throat or bother you if you have sensitive teeth. Also, if you are a person who likes flavored water, I wouldn’t recommend adding ginger. From my experience, it can cause hemorrhoids to act up even when added to water or fruit juice. Hope this helps.

  6. Hi Markus,

    Good information. One question I have is that you recommend nuts. I thought they were a no-no with piles. I miss them and would love to have them back in my diet. Not too many but an ounce a day.

    • I don’t see why nuts are forbidden for piles. To be honest, I have eaten nuts since I was diagnosed with piles because they are rich in fiber and help me have regular, soft and easy bowel movements. I continue to eat nuts and seeds almost every day. My favorite are almonds, walnuts and caju. In addition to providing good amounts of dietary fiber, they are extremely rich in vitamins and dietary minerals. Moreover, they contain fats which further ease bowel movements and help with hemorrhoid disease. Why do you think nuts are bad for piles?

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