Piles, also known as Hemorrhoids, are swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. They can result in severe pain while passing stools, itchiness, irritation and bleeding. This is a common disorder and usually not harmful, but definitely very troublesome. The most common causes of piles are low-fibre or low-fluid diet, chronic constipation, diarrhea, pregnancy, and aging process.
In case of severe piles, surgery can be used to remove them. However, surgery is likely to bring only temporary relief as piles have a very high rate of reappearance. Regular exercise and certain dietary factors are probably the most effective methods of preventing and treating piles.
Eating foods that are high in fiber can make stools softer and easier to pass, thus reducing the risk of constipation. This in turn prevents the recurrence of piles and causes less irritation to existing piles. A good way to get fiber is from plant foods – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
Whole grain foods
Whole grains are loaded with fiber that reduces constipation and helps bowel movements, making it easier to pass stools. Whole grains contain all nutritious parts of the grain. As a result, they provide more micronutrients, such as selenium and folate, protein and fiber than refined grains, such as enriched flour.
Some whole grain sources and products include:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain cereals
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole grain bread
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are not only high in fiber, but also excellent sources of antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and beta carotene, that promote a healthy immune system. As valuable sources of fluid and fiber, fruits and vegetables help to manage piles symptoms. Consume them with the skins, when these are thin like on apples, pears, and potatoes, as the skin contains plenty of fiber-rich nutrients that help with digestion. Also choose whole fruits and vegetables over juices, which contain less fiber.
It is recommended to eat fruits and vegetables such as:
- Brussel sprouts
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas are high in fiber, protein, micronutrients such as B-vitamins and iron. Increasing your fiber consumption can increase stool softness and ease pressure on piles during bowel movements. To increase the fiber content of common dishes, replace meat with legumes.
You can eat legumes such as:
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Black beans
- Split peas
Drink enough water
Along with eating a diet full of fiber, drinking enough water is important to prevent stools from hardening. Drinking sufficient water helps prevent constipation and therefore decreases straining. It is recommended to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily.
Foods to avoid
- Foods with little fiber can cause or make constipation (and therefore piles) worse, so it’s best to limit how much you eat of them. These include meat, white bread, cheese, processed foods such as frozen meals and fast food etc.
- Spicy foods, such as hot peppers, worsen the pain and itching of piles, and can irritate the bowels. These foods should be avoided by individuals suffering from piles.
- Coffee, tea, and alcohol, in excessive amounts, can have a diuretic effect on the body and can cause a loss of water, resulting in dehydration and constipation. Drink these in moderation.