If you have experienced hemorrhoids, you aren’t alone – according to the National Institutes of Health, about 50 percent of the United States population above the age of 50 has had hemorrhoids. The good news is you can help prevent hemorrhoids with some simple steps:
- Keep your bowels moving. Fiber helps relieve constipation and straining that can cause or worsen hemorrhoids. Start by eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, or take psyllium seed husks in any of the forms available in drugstores and health food stores. Another healthy option is freshly ground flaxseed. Supplemental magnesium can also help sluggish bowels.
- Avoid dietary irritants including strong spices such as red pepper and mustard, and drinks such as coffee (caffeinated or decaf) and alcohol, all of which can inflame the lower GI tract.
- Drink lots of water, more than you think you need, to lower friction in the bowels and help maintain a soft stool consistency.
- Get regular exercise to promote optimal bowel function and digestive health.
- Avoid prolonged sitting, which is linked to hemorrhoids.
- Manage your stress. Consider learning and practicing a relaxation technique. Unhealthy stress can lead to gastrointestinal issues by disturbing the balance of the nervous system, which controls bowel function.
- Consider natural remedies. Triphala, a combination of three bowel-tonifying herbs from the ayurvedic tradition, can help support bowel health. You might also try taking one teaspoon of liquid aloe vera after meals.
If you do have hemorrhoids, try applying aloe vera gel to the anal area frequently; use compresses of witch hazel (which acts as an astringent) to clean the anal area after bowel movements, and apply a warm compress for 10 minutes at a time several times a day to promote blood flow and healing.
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out what vitamins you need, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor. This 3-step questionnaire requires just minutes to complete, and generates a free, no-obligation vitamin and nutritional supplement recommendation that is personalized to meet your unique nutritional needs.
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