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.
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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 2006 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 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.