As unpleasant as hemorrhoids may sound, they are, believe it or not, quite common. With over three million cases reported each year, hemorrhoids are merely swollen veins caused by pressure on the bowels. While major lifestyle changes, such as pregnancy, can cause hemorrhoid development, many cases actually develop from seemingly insignificant everyday habits that build up over time. From diet choices to fitness and movement, below are a few common habits to be mindful of if you’re worried about hemorrhoids:
1. Not enough fiber – Low fiber intake can lead to constipation, which directly causes overstraining during bowel movements and, thus, inflamed veins. Try to aim for 25-50 grams of fiber everyday, eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. For more on increasing your fiber intake, check out our post on the best and worst foods for preventing hemorrhoids.
2. Straining/overexerting yourself during workouts – If a weight is too heavy, DON’T force yourself. Suddenly increasing weight amounts too quickly puts a burst of pressure on your lower region, which is NOT what you want for your blood vessels.
3. Sitting too long on the toilet – Sitting for too long is never a good thing for your body! Hemorrhoids usually worsen or develop when there’s an increased, downward pressure, so the longer you sit on the toilet checking Twitter, the more your blood pools downward and adds pressure to the veins. Adding onto the fiber point above, eating more fiber should help increase the speed of your bowel movements and prevent added toilet-squatting time.
4. Eating too much processed food – Fast food, frozen meals and pre-packaged junk food are absolutely terrible diet options, as they contain few nutrients and loads of sodium. They also contain inflammation-promoting ingredients that increase constipation and bloating. Avoid!
5. Sitting for long periods of time – It’s not just excessive toilet-sitting that’s frowned upon. Sitting and binge-watching four straight hours of Keeping Up With the Kardashians will essentially produce the same negative results. Decreased mobility can cause blood flow to also decrease, and blood is more likely to gather up/pool in the anal veins, causing irritation and swelling that can develop into hemorrhoids.
6. Not hydrating enough – Along with increasing your fiber intake, drinking more fluids (preferably water) throughout the day helps promote good digestion and proper stool passage. Aim for at least eight cups of water daily.
If you do develop hemorrhoids, you may be able to alleviate discomfort using these home remedies. However, it’s important to still visit your doctor for a full examination and treatment rundown.