Dietary Suggestions for Alleviating Constipation & Hemorrhoids

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 4:13pm

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

In general, constipation does not seem like a serious problem, but it can predispose a person to hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. It can also increase toxins in the body, which can lead to colon cancer. All of these conditions are related to having excess pressure and prolonged time with stool in the intestine.

Constipation is the major cause of hemorrhoids, parasites, yeast, and allergies; however, genetic weakness of the blood vessels may also contribute. Understanding and treating constipation can help alleviate existing hemorrhoids and prevent more from forming. Hemorrhoids are very common among half of the population over 50 years old. Symptoms may include pain, itching, burning, swelling and bleeding of the anus.

What is constipation?

On average, it takes 17 to 30 hours for food to travel the length of a digestive tract. You can test your bowel transit time by eating beets or taking activated charcoal and seeing how long it takes for the red or black color to show up in you stool. If food travels through the body too quickly, not enough nutrients are absorbed. If it travels too slowly, the pressure in the intestines increases and excess toxins are absorbed instead of being eliminated.

People have different ideas of what it means to be constipated. Some people who have had bowel movements once a week all their life think they have no problems. Other people will feel constipated when they have incomplete bowel movements, even when they move their bowels everyday. Generally, having a bowel movement 1 or 2 times per day is healthy.

What causes constipation?

The 2 main causes of constipation are:

Food allergies also can cause constipation. Food allergies are a likely cause especially if a person alternates between diarrhea and constipation.

How constipation and hemorrhoids are related

Hemorrhoids form when blood vessels are weak or have excess pressure on them. Blood vessels swell because of excess internal pressure from constipation or from weakness of the blood vessel wall. In either case, the swollen blood vessel can burst, causing bleeding, and other symptoms associated with hemorrhoids.

Treating constipation with a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to treat constipation. Increase fiber content in your food by increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are helpful in avoiding constipation. If fiber is taken without enough water, it can make constipation worse. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Exercise also can be helpful to stimulate bowel movements. If needed, essential fatty acids, magnesium, certain herbs, and vitamin C can also be used on occasion to keep bowels moving. It is important to answer “calls of nature” promptly. If you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, do not suppress it.

Treating hemorrhoids

Relieving constipation is key in treating hemorrhoids by decreasing the internal pressure inside the intestines and on the blood vessels around the anus. In addition, astringents such as witch hazel can be used topically to tonify the blood vessels. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and bioflavonoids strengthen the cells and connective tissue in and around the blood vessels to improve healing.

Conclusion: the best treatment for constipation and hemorrhoids is a healthy diet and regular exercise

Diet and regular exercise can make a big difference in the treatment of constipation and hemorrhoids. To start the healing process:

  • Eat a healthy amount of vegetables, whole grains and beans to get a variety of fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly.