Eating a healthy diet rich in high fiber whole foods can help relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids, or piles.
Hemorrhoids, or piles, refer to inflamed, swollen veins surrounding the anus or in the lower rectum, where the waste collects before it passes as a stool.
There are two types of hemorrhoids: external hemorrhoids that form under the skin near the anus and internal hemorrhoids that form in the anus and lower rectal lining.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 1 in 20 people living in the United States experience hemorrhoids. Around 50% of adults over the age of 50 will deal with hemorrhoids at some point.
What a person eats can help ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
This article lists the best high fiber foods to help with hemorrhoids and which foods to avoid. It provides additional tips for the treatment and prevention of hemorrhoids.
Eating more high fiber, low fat, whole foods can often reduce or prevent the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
That is because fiber
- increase stool weight, reducing the time feces spends in the colon (colon transit time)
- increase water retention in the colon, resulting in softer stools that pass more easily
- decrease the pH levels in the colon, which also reduces colon transit time, or the time it takes for food to pass through the colon
Lots of foods contain fiber, but some of the best foods to eat to help with piles include:
1. Wheat bran and shredded wheat
Just 1/3–1/4 of a cup of high fiber, ready-to-eat bran cereal between 9.1-14.3 g of fiber.
1–1/4 cups of shredded, ready-to-eat wheat cereal contains between 5–9 g of fiber.
Wheat bran and shredded wheat contain insoluble fiber, giving stool bulk and making it easier to pass.
Prunes are dried plum. Stewed or dried prunes are rich in fiber. Just a half cup of stewed prunes contains around 3.8 g of fiber.
Dried prunes may also
Compounds in prunes called phenols
The insoluble fibers found in an apple’s skin do not break down during digestion and help to bulk-up stool, which causes a laxative effect.
Pears are incredibly high in fiber and other compounds that may benefit people with hemorrhoids. A pear with its skin may contain around
One cup of cooked oatmeal contains around
And some research shows that consuming green lentils leads to significant increases in the weight of the stool and reduces the time it spends in the colon.
9. Whole wheat bread, pasta, and cereals
Unprocessed or lightly processed whole wheat products are rich in insoluble fiber, which increases fecal weight and colon transit time.
For an added fiber punch, pick whole wheat products with nuts and seeds.
Berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, have a high skin-to-flesh ratio, meaning they contain a lot of fiber per serving. A 100 g serving of raspberries contains around
Berries also contain a lot of water, which helps soften stools and keep the digestive system moving smoothly. They also contain fructose, which has a natural laxative effect.
Some traditional medicine systems use artichokes and varieties of thistle (which are relatives of the artichoke) to treat hemorrhoids. A likely reason for this is their high fiber content. One cooked, medium-sized artichoke contains around
12. Sweet potatoes and potatoes
According to the
Broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which may help improve digestion and protect the gut.
Tomatoes contain fiber and water, which can both ease constipation and make it easier to pass stool.
Tomatoes also contain naringenin, a natural antioxidant that scientists have shown to have a laxative effect on some forms of constipation.
15. Citrus fruits
Like tomatoes, citrus fruits also contain naringenin, a compound that has a laxative effect. They also contain lots of water, which helps ease constipation and soften stools.
Research also shows that kiwifruit consumption may act as a laxative, increase how often and easily stool passes, and increase stool bulk, which reduces colon transit time.
Kiwifruits also contain the enzyme zyactinase, which may also help ease constipation by improving digestion.
Like peas and other pulses, dried beans are incredibly high in fiber. According to the 2015–2020
To help reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids or the risk of developing them, a person can try avoiding:
- fried and salty foods
- chips and other packaged snacks
- full-fat dairy products
- prepared or heavily processed foods
- red meat
- candies and chocolates
- soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffees with added milk, sugar, or cream
- excessive caffeine intake
Several at-home remedies and lifestyle habits may help treat hemorrhoids or reduce the risk of developing them, such as:
- using over-the-counter (OTC) hemorrhoid creams or suppositories (medications inserted into the rectum) for around 1 week before talking to a healthcare professional
- using OTC laxatives or stool softeners
- avoiding lifting heavy objects when possible and lifting with the knees
- trying to avoid straining during bowel movements, holding in bowel movements, or sitting on the toilet too long
- staying hydrated by drinking water, fruit juices, clear soups, or other liquids that may help fiber from foods work better
- using OTC pain medications
- taking a sitz bath, sitting in a bath of warm water, several times daily
- maintaining a body weight within the recommended healthful range
- avoiding having anal intercourse
- getting enough exercise
Eating foods high in fiber, such as pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas), whole fruits and vegetables, with a high skin-to-flesh ratio and water content, and whole grains, can help ease symptoms of hemorrhoids and prevent them.
People should talk with a doctor about severe or very large hemorrhoids or those that do not improve with at-home care and dietary changes after a week or two.