Piles (haemorrhoids) - Prevention 

Preventing piles (haemorrhoids) 

Picture of a bowl of healthy cereal

It is not always possible to prevent getting haemorrhoids (piles), but a high-fibre diet will keep your stools soft and reduce your risk of becoming constipated.

This will help you avoid straining to pass a stool, which is the main cause of haemorrhoids.

It is also recommended that you empty your bowels when you need to. Delaying going to the toilet can make your stools harder and drier.

This increases the likelihood of pressure building up in the blood vessels of your rectum (the part of the large intestine where stools are stored) and anus (the end of the large intestine where solid waste leaves the body).

Self help

Ways of helping to prevent haemorrhoids include:

  • eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – at least five portions a day
  • cutting down on fat – particularly fat in meat, sugary food, and refined and processed food
  • eating plenty of pulses, such as peas, beans and lentils
  • eating plenty of wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, pasta and breakfast cereals
  • drinking plenty of fluid – you should drink at least one to two litres (six to eight glasses) of water a day to help keep your stools soft
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • losing weight – being overweight can be a contributing factor to having haemorrhoids; use the healthy weight calculator to find whether you are a healthy weight for your height
  • exercising regularly – can help prevent constipation, reduce your blood pressure, and help you lose weight
  • avoiding medication that causes constipation, such as painkillers that contain codeine

Fibre

If you already have haemorrhoids, eating a high-fibre diet can help ease your symptoms. Fibre, also known as roughage, is found in foods such as:

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • cereals
  • nuts
  • seeds

A diet that does not contain enough fibre can cause constipation because the waste material produced is too hard. This can also lead to other problems such as:

  • appendicitis – which causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the appendix (a small organ in the abdomen)
  • diverticular disease – where small, painful bulges form in the large intestine (colon)

Dietary fibre acts like a sponge, absorbing water to increase the bulk and softness of stools. This helps them to be passed easily from your body. If you increase your intake of fibre, it is also important you increase your fluid intake.

When increasing the amount of fibre you eat, you should do so gradually because your digestive system will need time to adapt. If you introduce too much fibre into your diet too quickly you may experience:

Read more about eating healthily


Page last reviewed: 24/04/2012

Next review due: 24/04/2014

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Fibre tips

  • Swap your white loaf for wholemeal or multigrain bread.
  • Try brown rice and wholemeal pasta for a change.
  • Eat more nuts and seeds – for example, add them to breakfast cereals and sprinkle them on salads.
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Pulses, including baked beans, kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, can be added to soups, casseroles and salads.
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