Haemorrhoidal diseas: between heredity and everyday mistakes
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a proper diet are key actions to prevent and/or combat the onset of proctological disorders. Indeed, nutrition, together with regular physical activity plays an essential role both in the prevention and in the treatment of one of the most widespread problems in the world: haemorrhoidal disease, more commonly (and wrongly) known as haemorrhoids. It is estimated that in the Western world more than 40% of the adult population suffers from it at least once in their lives, but what factors affect the onset of this disease?
- hereditary factors: characteristics which are transmitted through the genetic heritage from parent to child;
- family factors: elements which are transmitted within the same family nucleus, therefore between individuals who share habits, nutrition and behaviours (regardless of whether there is a blood tie);
- socio-environmental factors: these include many elements such as the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine; a sedentary lifestyle (remaining seated for a long time without physical activity or without moving one’s body during the day); practising sports that are traumatising for the anal area (such as cycling, motorcycling and horse riding); type of work carried out (which may involve high efforts, or on the contrary excessive sedentariness); pregnancy, stress and last but not least, diet.
Eating habits are a way of life. Diet has an enormous influence on the onset of intestinal dysfunctions, such as constipation or chronic diarrhoea. Prolonged efforts, maybe for the evacuation of particularly hard faeces, or on the contrary continuous defecation, determine an increase in the pressure on the haemorrhoidal plexus and therefore favour the onset or aggravation of the haemorrhoidal disease.
A diet that helps the intestine
The multifactorial character of the haemorrhoidal disease lies in the impossibility to find a single triggering cause for this pathology: this is why it is essential to follow a series of general advice, useful to improve the functioning of the whole body and at the same time protect it from many other diseases. Leading an active life, caring for personal hygiene, using cotton underwear, avoiding smoking and alcoholic beverages, eating healthily… the secret of course lies in finding balance! Let’s focus on food advice: which foods are useful for intestinal function?
- foods rich in iron (beef liver and offal, mussels and shellfish, eggs, certain fish such as sea bass or perch, horse meat, dried legumes, nuts or dried fruit such as dates, apricots, plums);
- olive oil, linseed oil and apple vinegar;
- fruit juices (the best being cherry, blackberry and blueberry);
- plenty of water.
It is of course essential to contact a medical specialist before undertaking a new diet. The following food recommendations are generally valid but may be contraindicated in the presence of specific pathological conditions.
Food to avoid in case of haemorrhoids
What are the worst enemies of the intestinal and rectal walls in the presence of haemorrhoids?
- bread and pasta made with refined flour;
- sweetened and carbonated;
- alcoholic beverages;
- saturated fats (butter, fatty cold cuts, fatty red meats, fatty cheeses);
- trans-fatty acids (margarine and peanut butter);
- fried and spicy foods.
When industrial food becomes a (bad) habit
A frantic life and a wrong diet almost always go hand in hand. Appointments, emails, phone calls, customers, deliveries, family commitments: the hectic pace of our daily life often does not leave enough time for a proper lunch, so our choice falls on prepackaged food or fast food. A series of dietary inattentions, most often dictated by stress, may lead to many problems on the long run: obesity, cholesterol increase, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, haemorrhoidal disease. Being aware, developing strategies and finding quick expedients are indispensable attitudes to choose a way of life in which we care for ourselves.