Hemorrhoids result when veins around the anus and/or rectum become inflamed or swollen. While hemorrhoids are rarely a serious condition, they can be painful, itchy and result in anal bleeding. Hemorrhoids are caused by a number of factors, including an episode of diarrhea, straining during bowel movements or after sitting on the toilet for long time periods. Fiber, however, does not cause hemorrhoids -- instead, eating fiber is a method of preventing hemorrhoids.
Common misconceptions about fiber include the belief that eating too much fiber causes you to experience more hemorrhoids, and that too much fiber causes difficult or excess bowel movements. The actual cause of these problems is constipation, the result of eating too much fiber without increasing your water intake. Fiber adds bulk to your stool and absorbs water, which makes it easier to move along your digestive tract. If you do not have enough fluids in your system, your stool dries out, you become constipated and increase your risk of hemorrhoids, or worsen an existing hemorrhoid problem.
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A low-fiber diet is associated with increased risk for developing hemorrhoids. Those who experience trouble with bowel movements like constipation or irregular stools may be advised by their doctors to increase their fiber intake to make bowel movements easier. Fiber supplements may also be recommended, especially for people who cannot, or will not, increase their intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas.
How It Works
Two types of fiber exist -- insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is the kind that helps to prevent hemorrhoids. This is because insoluble fiber helps to combine with food in the digestive system, adding bulk. Insoluble fiber contains cellulose, lignin or hemicellulose, which are substances that the body cannot break down. Foods containing insoluble fiber include whole-wheat bread, wheat bran, nuts, and vegetables like broccoli and asparagus. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, apple sauce and bananas, differs because it dissolves in water, making a gel-like paste that moves through the body and slows digestion, making you feel fuller, longer.
Increase your fiber intake slowly, because increasing fiber consumption too quickly can cause gas and cramping in the stomach. Females 19 to 50 years old should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, while males in this age group should consume 38 grams of fiber per day. Drink plenty of water while you increase your fiber intake to reduce adverse symptoms.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.