9 Foods to Eat for Hemorrhoid Prevention: From Papaya to Prunes
What are the best foods to eat if you want to avoid hemorrhoids (sometimes spelled hemroids)? Here's a list of the best foods for preventing hemorrhoids, from papaya and prunes to blueberries and figs. As you'll see, many of these anti-hemorrhoid foods can be found at your local grocery store.
This section of HealWithFood.org's Guide to Preventing Hemorrhoids provides a list of foods that can help prevent and heal hemorrhoids. If you are interested in more general information about hemorrhoids and diet, visit this Guide's Hemorrhoids & Diet section. For delicious recipes that combine some of the best anti-hemorrhoid foods, visit the Anti-Hemorrhoid Recipes section.
Blueberries are one of the greatest health foods of all time, and they're a boon to anyone suffering from hemorrhoids. Due to their high concentration of anthocyanins, blueberries help repair damaged proteins in the blood vessel walls and promote the overall health of the vascular system. On top of that, blueberries are a good source of both insoluble and soluble fiber such as pectin. Furthermore, compared to other berries, blueberries (especially wild blueberries) are a good source of vitamin E.
Figs are an old standby remedy for constipation. To fully benefit from their laxative effect, eat them with their skin as most of their fiber is in the skin. When buying figs, look for fruits that are plump and soft, but not mushy. They should also be free of bruises, have a deep color, and smell fresh and mildly sweet. Figs are one of the most perishable fruits and therefore it is advisable to buy them only a day or two before you plan to eat them. Dried figs, which have a shelf life of over a year if stored appropriately, are also an excellent remedy for constipation.
The nutritional profile of spinach makes it an excellent health food and an important vegetable for anyone concerned about getting hemorrhoids. Spinach is considered one of the best vegetables for the entire digestive tract, and it is thought to be highly effective at cleansing and regenerating the intestinal tract. One of its gut health promoting compounds is magnesium which appears to be necessary for proper bowel movement. Mild deficiencies of magnesium are fairly common in Western countries, where consumption of processed foods is common, as processing significantly decrease the magnesium content of foods. Also intensive farming, practiced in many Western countries, depletes the soil of magnesium, thereby reducing the magnesium content of the plants growing in the soil.
Don't be put off by okra's somewhat slimy texture — this extraordinary plant native to West Africa is an amazing functional food for maintaining a healthy gut. The okra fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool, which causes it to move through the intestines faster, helping prevent constipation and the formation of hemorrhoids. Okra's mucilage lubrificates and soothes the intestinal tract, further facilitating painless elimination of waste. When buying okra, look for fresh, firm, bright green pods that are no longer than 4 inches. To prepare okra, cut off both ends of the pods, wash them in cold water, and cook in a saucepan or a steamer. To retain most of okra's healthful nutrients and enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible. Thin slices of raw okra added to a bowl of salad greens also make a healthy and delicious dish.
Munching on red beets is a great way to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids! Beets are high in fiber that helps keep waste materials moving through the intestines at a healthy pace. Also the green leafy tops of beets are edible and high in fiber, so don't throw them away — — they can be cooked and eaten like spinach. In addition to supporting healthy bowel movement, beets contain some extraordinary properties that make them a super food for the colon. Betacyanin, a phytochemical compound responsible for beets' intense purple color, has been shown to be highly effective at fighting cancer, particularly colon cancer.
Originally from Central America, the papaya plant is today cultivated in most tropical countries. Called the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus, papaya is a true nutritional powerhouse. It is also a great functional food to add to your diet if you are prone to developing hemorrhoids to its ability to aid digestion and prevent constipation. Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme, as well as a number of other active compounds that have been shown to ease constipation. Papain is more concentrated in green unripe papaya than in ripe papaya. Green papaya, which is often more readily available in Asian food stores, makes a refreshing addition to salads.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start a day off right. Oats are highly nutritious and an excellent source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with water while insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, passes the intestines largely intact. Soluble fiber is known to prevent constipation due to its ability to make stool bulkier and softer. Before eating oats, soak them for several hours. Untreated oats, like other grains, contain phytic acid which can block the absorption of magnesium in the intestines. Soaking allows enzymes to break down and neutralize phytic acid and thus improve the nutritional value of oats.
Prunes are a good source of fiber. Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that the enzymes in your body cannot digest and that is therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, fiber remains in the colon where it absorbs water and softens the stool, thereby preventing constipation. In addition, prunes contain mild colonic stimulants, which exert further beneficial effects on the bowels. (Note: If you're interested in more general information about the effects of prunes on human health, check out the page Health Benefits of Prunes.)
The dietary fiber in barley increases bulk, softens stool, and shortens the transit time of fecal matter, thereby decreasing the risk of hemorrhoids. In addition, barley's fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in the large intestine, helping these bacteria to produce a short chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which helps maintain a healthy gut.
For further information on the nutritional approach to preventing hemorrhoids, also visit: