Using Diet to Prevent and Treat Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids — although more than 75% of Americans are affected at some point in their lives, hemorrhoids aren't exactly a topic that everyone enjoys discussing. If you're looking for relief, you'll be glad to know that eating a diet rich in fiber can help prevent, treat, and stop the progression of this bothersome condition.
A hemorrhoid can form in one or both of the two rings of hemorrhoid veins which are located near the anus. The purpose of these veins is to tightly seal the anal opening, with the help of a muscular constriction called the anal sphincter. The row of hemorrhoid veins higher up are located at the end of the rectum. Hemorrhoids which develop in these veins are called internal hemorrhoids. The veins located closest to the end of the anus are covered with skin. Hemorrhoids which develop in these veins are called external hemorrhoids, and are the most painful.
Denis Burkitt, MD, (a.k.a. the "Fiber Man"), provided revolutionary information revealing that a fiber-deficient diet and years of straining and bearing down to move difficult bowel movements is the major causative factor of many Western gastrointestinal conditions. Varicose veins, hiatal hernia, colon polyps, diverticulitis, as well as hemorrhoids are a direct result of eating foods that have little or no fiber. Consequently, tremendous effort is required to pass the stools. One of Dr. Burkitt's articles, published in the British Medical Journal, describes how populations living in developed countries strain to move fiber-deficient, small, hard and dry stools resulting in a much higher incidence of hemorrhoids, whereas hemorrhoids are rare in populations living in countries that consume diets rich in fiber, thereby providing soft, moist, bulky stools.
Exerting so much force creates tremendous retrograde pressures within the veins with each and every desperate push. As the veins dilate and the condition progresses, the veins bulge and become enlarged. Hemorrhoids can be painful and can cause burning, itching, bleeding, irritation, and may prolapse outside of the body. Distended anal muscles can be seen in later stages and is a result of years of straining.
Once hemorrhoids develop, they are permanent; this condition cannot be reversed. However a change in diet can stop the burning, itching, pain and bleeding, along with halting their progression. Surgery (hemorrhoidectomy) should be the last resort, only after all other methods have been tried.
Animal products and vegetable oils contain no fiber, while processed and refined foods have very little fiber. It comes as no surprise that 97% of Americans eat a fiber-deficient diet since 88% or more of the calories consumed on a daily basis come from meat, dairy, eggs, refined grains, oils, butter, shortening, candy, sodas, and potato chips. Based on these results, it's easy to understand why our country suffers from an epidemic of poor health, disability, and obesity related diseases. Less than 3% of Americans consume the minimum amount of dietary fiber. Most Americans consuming the standard American diet eat a troubling 8 to 15 grams of fiber per day, whereas a diet based on whole plant foods can easily provide 60-80+ grams per day.
If you'd like to learn more on the importance of a fiber-rich diet, and how it prevents and treats other common gastrointestinal diseases, see the blogs and articles below. You will also enjoy watching Dr. John McDougall discuss hemorroids in his video, Intestines From the Beginning:
(2) The Benefits of Fiber by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
(8) Straining for Relief – Damage Everywhere by John McDougall, MD
(9) Constipation, Hemorrhoids, Varicose Veins by John McDougall, MD
(14) Dr. McDougall's Digestive Tune-Up (Book)
(15) Digestion Made Easy (DVD) by Michael Klaper, MD
John McDougall MD Links
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