Bright red blood on the toilet paper or in the bowl after a bowel movement is an indicator of rectal bleeding. Bleeding from any area of your digestive tract or finding blood in your stool warrants a consultation with your physician to determine the cause. In some cases, adjusting your diet may be part of your treatment.
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Your diet can be the cause of rectal bleeding if you are not getting enough fiber and fluids daily. Fiber bulks up your stool, making it easier to pass. Without sufficient fiber, you can become constipated, which increases the amount of straining during a bowel movement. Excessive straining can contribute to hemorrhoids, the bulging of the blood vessels in your anus. Hemorrhoids sometimes bleed and are a common form of rectal bleeding. Drink more water -- up to 64 oz. daily -- and increase your fiber intake to reduce your symptoms and to curb or prevent this type of rectal bleeding. The American Dietetic Association recommends that adults consume between 20 and 35 g of fiber daily. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and beans are an excellent dietary source of fiber.
An excessive intake of fat can increase your risk of several medical conditions of which rectal bleeding may be a symptom. Constipation and diarrhea are two side effects of following a high-fat diet; both of these gastrointestinal symptoms can contribute to hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding. According to pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears, eating too much saturated fat can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. Rectal bleeding can be a symptom of colon cancer. Switch to olive oil as your cooking oil to reduce your intake of saturated fats and to give your body more of the "good" fats that can have a beneficial effect on your health.
Your intake of alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, may increase your risk of medical conditions associated with rectal bleeding. According to Dr. Sears, beer and wine contain carcinogens -- nitrosamines and tannins, respectively -- that activate upon entry into the intestines and can increase your risk for developing colorectal cancer. Drink alcohol in moderation, enjoying a maximum of 1 to 2 drinks daily, to minimize your health risks.
Food poisoning could be a dietary cause of rectal bleeding. Foods contaminated with harmful bacteria due to unsanitary kitchen conditions or undercooking can cause food-borne illness. Symptoms of food poisoning can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; persistent diarrhea can lead to rectal bleeding in some cases due to irritation of the anal area. Prevent food-borne illnesses by cooking meats to minimum internal temperatures recommended by the USDA -- between 145 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid cross contamination of raw meat juices on kitchen utensils and cutting boards by washing your implements in hot, soapy water immediately after use.