Almost three-quarters of Americans will deal with hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. Fortunately, the condition is easy to treat with a few dietary modifications, and most cases of hemorrhoids clear up within just a few days. Because some foods can aggravate existing symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s important to avoid them while treating the condition.
Foods with little fiber can cause or make constipation (and therefore hemorrhoids) worse, so it’s best to limit how much you eat of them.
- White bread and bagels
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy
- Processed foods such as frozen meals and fast food
Some of these (red meat, processed meat like hot dogs, and refined carbs) as well as fried foods can also cause inflammation in your body, which may make hemorrhoids worse.
If your hemorrhoids itch or hurt, cut down on things that can irritate your gut, including:
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
Watch the amount of salt you eat. It can lead to your body hanging on to water, which puts more pressure on your blood vessels. That includes the veins in your bottom that cause hemorrhoids.
Iron supplements can cause constipation and other digestive problems, so talk to your doctor before you take them.
Have hemorrhoids? Avoid these 12 foods to ease the pain
If you have hemorrhoids, the last thing you want to do is eat something that will make them even more painful.
The trick to reducing hemorrhoid pain is to prevent constipation, which is one of the worst triggers and pain-increasers for hemorrhoids. Eating foods that will make elimination easier (but not too much easier), is the best way to prevent constipation and reduce pain during painful hemorrhoid flare-ups.
If you are suffering from a hemorrhoid outbreak, avoid the following foods:
Everyone tells you to eat more fiber to reduce constipation, but fiber as a constipation remedy will only solve one kind of constipation- and not the kind associated with hemorrhoids. Fiber is bulk-forming, which means that it creates bulk in the intestines.
Contrary to popular belief, fiber does not act like little brooms sweeping out your intestines. Rather, it builds larger stools, which then encourage your intestines to pass the stool. However, if you have hemorrhoids, you do not want bulkier stool, which will simply make the problem worse. Do not try to take fiber supplements to prevent hemorrhoid-related constipation.
Although it may seem like a good idea to take laxatives to prevent constipation while dealing with hemorrhoids, laxatives can also have a painful effect on hemorrhoids. Laxatives promote loose stool, which often has a high acid content. As you can imagine, bothering hemorrhoids with frequent, acidic stool can only lead to pain and discomfort.
Additionally, taking laxatives for extended periods can actually result in constipation. Laxatives are diuretic, encouraging fluids to leave the body. After a while, your body becomes dehydrated, which is a trigger for constipation.
Alcohol is dehydrating, which means it can lead to the development of constipation. If you drink large amounts of alcohol, not only will you be more likely to face constipation, but you may also upset the digestive balance in your stomach in intestines, which could make elimination more painful. For the least amount of pain during your hemorrhoid outbreak, avoid drinking more than a glass or two of any alcoholic beverage.
Refined grains lack fiber and other nutrients that aid proper digestion and elimination. Consequently, any refined grains that you eat can sit in the stomach or intestines for a while, contributing to constipation and stomach pain. This will make any hemorrhoid flare-ups more painful and can contribute to pain and swelling at the hemorrhoid site.
Just like refined grains, processed foods are a danger during periods of hemorrhoid flare-ups. Processed foods contain few nutrients, a lot of salt and unhealthy fats. All of these ingredients can contribute to poor digestion and constipation. Processed foods like freezer meals, junk food, packaged sweets, and any other pre-packaged and processed foods will only contribute to further hemorrhoid pain. Additionally, many processed foods contain inflammation-promoting ingredients. The more inflamed the blood vessels are, the worse your hemorrhoid pain will be.
Dairy products could promote constipation and make hemorrhoids worse. Typically, dairy products do not cause constipation on their own, but they can contribute to constipation discomfort and pain during hemorrhoid outbreaks. Dairy does contribute to the production of gas, which can contribute to hemorrhoid pain and stomach cramps if you are already constipated. In some studies, large consumption of dairy products leaves fatty acids in the intestines which bind to calcium deposits. This leads to the accumulation of bulk called “soaps,” which contribute to constipation and harder stool.
If you love your morning cup of joe, you may want to swap it out for tea if you have hemorrhoids. Caffeinated drinks like coffee can cause dry stools that may worsen hemorrhoids, and so can alcoholic drinks. Staying hydrated, however, is one way to ease hemorrhoid symptoms. If you don’t like tea, try hot cocoa or boiled water with a wedge of lemon and fresh mint leaves.
Fats typically take longer to digest than other nutrient types, so eating a lot of greasy or fatty foods increases work for your digestive system and can raise the risk of stomach pain and heartburn as well as hemorrhoids. Avoid deep-fried foods like corn dogs, fritters, french fries and funnel cakes while you’re suffering from hemorrhoids. You can also cut the overall fat content of your diet, especially saturated fat, by using less butter and making a switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
Gradually increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is a common treatment for hemorrhoids, and avoiding low-fiber foods can help you accomplish that goal. Specifically, Columbia University recommends eschewing highly processed carbs such as cream of wheat, baked goods, white rice, white pasta and white bread. Instead, go for whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat bread, high-fiber cereal and oatmeal.
During hemorrhoid flare-ups, salt can be a dangerous food. Salt is dehydrating and can make stool harder to pass. Excessive amounts of salt can slow the digestive system, making bowel movements more painful. Additionally, a build-up of salt in the blood can cause bloating, which may make swollen hemorrhoids worse and more sensitive. Watch your salt intake carefully during hemorrhoid flare-ups and you will find your pain lessened.
Fried foods are full of unhealthy ingredients like unhealthy oils, a high-fat content, and typically unhealthy foods before they were fried. Although deep-frying foods every now and then probably won’t damage your health permanently, during hemorrhoid flare-ups, you should avoid any inflaming foods.
Deep-fried foods can be damaging to hemorrhoids in two ways. First, the foods are heavy and hard to digest. This can slow down your entire digestive system, making it more difficult to have a bowel movement. Second, fried foods are typically cooked in vegetable oils like corn, soy, and rapeseed oil. These oils are extremely inflaming and can cause damage to the intestinal walls. The damage can exacerbate existing hemorrhoids, making them larger and more painful.
Ordinarily, spicy foods do not cause pain or even contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. However, if you have swollen hemorrhoids, you will want to stay away from spicy foods for a few days until your hemorrhoid pain leaves. Spicy foods can make bowel movements more painful, particularly if your hemorrhoids are bleeding or sore. In some cases, spicy foods may contribute to diarrhea, which is also painful during hemorrhoid flare-ups.
According to Columbia University, spicy foods like hot peppers and curries can irritate your stomach and worsen existing digestive problems. Not all experts agree that you need to steer clear of spicy foods if you have hemorrhoids, however. In a study of 50 hemorrhoid patients, a team of scientists from Italy’s University of Bari tested the hypothesis that spicy foods cause or exacerbate hemorrhoids by feeding some patients red hot chili pepper and others placebo. Their findings, published in 2006 in the journal “Diseases of the Colon and Rectum,” were that spicy meals do not worsen hemorrhoid symptoms.
If you take iron supplements and also have hemorrhoids, you should stop taking the supplements during hemorrhoid outbreaks. Iron is a known constipating supplement, which is something you don’t want on top of hemorrhoid pain. Until your hemorrhoids heal, avoid taking iron in supplement form, and you may want to avoid iron-fortified foods for a few days as well.
While ripe fruit is beneficial and healthy, unripe fruit could contribute to pain and suffering for someone with hemorrhoids. Unripe fruit is difficult to digest, and some fruit, like bananas, contain constipating compounds until the fruit fully ripens. Much of the fruit sold at the grocery store is unripe, so if you plan to eat fruit during your flare-up, make sure it is fully ripe before consuming.
Many fruits can be encouraged to ripen by placing them in a warm spot inside a paper sack for a couple of days.