Diet and hydration come up a lot when it comes to maintaining good health and wellness, so it’s hardly surprising that they are also some of the possible underlying causes of haemorrhoids.
Eating foods high in fibre and drinking plenty of water helps to maintain healthy digestion and keep things moving by making our stools soft. If we don’t drink enough water or eat enough fibre, our poos can become hard and difficult to pass. In some cases, this can even lead to constipation. If you’ve had less than three bowel movements in one week this could be a sign you may be constipated.
Constipation can result in straining too much on the toilet, which puts extra pressure on the blood vessels in our bottom and can make them become swollen and enlarged. Sometimes they can bleed and become painful or itchy, and these are the common symptoms of haemorrhoids, also called piles.
Good foods for haemorrhoids
There are two types of fibre that can be found in different types of food that aid digestion, among many other health benefits:
Soluble fibre helps to keep stool soft and minimise constipation by soaking up water as it passes through your system.
Insoluble fibre helps to keep your bowel movements regular and moving through the digestive system.
It is recommended that we include about 30 grams of fibre per day so we’ve compiled a list of foods you can include in your diet that contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, as well as some culprit foods that are often associated with constipation.
Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries are an easy addition to the grocery basket and a great source of fibre. Most of the fibre is found in the skins of some fruits so be sure to eat the apple peel too. If you can’t your hands on juicy fresh fruit, canned or dried fruit is a good occasional alternative.
Brussels sprouts might divide opinion at the Christmas dinner table, but they are a great source of fibre along with other green veg like kale, broccoli, and spinach. In addition, vegetables such as peppers, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, and lettuce also have high water content, which helps to soften the stool further.
Another great way to get more fibre into your diet is by increasing your whole grain intake. Try swapping white bread for multi-grain or dark rye breads. Some good substitutions for white rice and pasta include barley, brown and wild rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, and wholemeal pasta.
Lentils, Nuts, Seeds and Beans
The legume family and tree nuts provide more great sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre. You can supplement dinnertime staples like stews, soups, and chillies with beans, lentils and nuts, to help your digestive system create stool that’s easier to pass. Kidney beans, for instance, contain roughly 25 grams of fibre for every 100g, while just 20 almonds contain roughly 3g of fibre, so it’ll be easy to reach the daily recommendation of 30g of fibre with a varied diet of lentils, nuts, seeds and beans. The legume family includes clovers, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarinds.
Bad foods for haemorrhoids
As you’ve probably guessed by now, eating too much food that is low in fibre can lead to constipation and potentially haemorrhoids as a result.
Here are some of the foods that are considered bad for haemorrhoids and that it might be best to avoid if you have them:
- White bread and white rice
- Milk, cheese, dairy
- Processed food like some frozen ready-meals and fast food.
Ultimately, the goal is to have a balanced diet that provides your body with all the nutrients it needs, while incorporating enough fibre to help produce soft stool that’s easy to pass. If you do find you need to increase your fibre intake, The British Nutrition Foundation recommends you do this gradually and make sure you drink plenty of water (about 6-8 glasses per day) whilst also fitting in regular weekly exercise.