Hemorrhoids happen when the veins in the anus and rectum start to swell. If you’ve ever experienced this painful condition, you might wonder if your coffee consumption was the cause. Coffee does not cause hemorrhoids, but it can affect your bowel movements, which, in turn, can aggravate your condition.
Every person has a unique biochemistry, so the far-reaching effects of coffee on hemorrhoids can vary dramatically from person to person. If you’re dealing with this condition, cutting back on your caffeine consumption may help with the healing process. That, in combination with simple dietary changes, can reduce discomfort and help prevent future issues.
Caffeine and Hemorrhoids
Caffeine doesn’t have a direct relationship to hemorrhoids. However, it can affect your body’s digestion. In some people, caffeine stimulates the bowels, causing urgent movements or even diarrhea. In others, caffeine causes dehydration, resulting in hardened stools or constipation.
Both diarrhea and constipation can aggravate hemorrhoids, which is why some people choose to avoid caffeine when they’re dealing with a flare-up. Diarrhea is associated with sitting on the toilet for long periods; this position increases pressure on your blood vessels, making you feel worse.
Constipation, on the other hand, often involves straining. This added pressure can cause bleeding, itching, and other uncomfortable effects. In some cases, it can cause hemorrhoids to become extremely painful as the tension builds. Then, it’s likely to bleed intermittently.
If you’re seeing a doctor for the condition, they may advise you to cut back on caffeine to avoid both of these scenarios. You’re not alone — approximately 20 percent of adults deal with the same problem.
Does Coffee Cause Hemorrhoids, Yes or No?
No, coffee does not cause hemorrhoids. However, the caffeine in the coffee can affect your body in ways that irritate the condition.
Hemorrhoids are caused by excess pressure in the rectum. This can happen when you strain too hard or sit too long during a bowel movement. Hard stools, which are often caused by a lack of fiber, can cause discomfort. Other contributing factors include obesity, pregnancy, and heavy lifting. Anal sex can also cause swelling in the veins and vessels around the anus.
Is Coffee Bad for Hemorrhoids?
That depends on a few factors. If your body reacts strongly to caffeine, it can certainly be bad for hemorrhoids. However, if you can drink many cups of coffee without feeling any effect on your digestive system, it may not be a problem. Health conditions, particularly those that involve the gastrointestinal system, can also affect your reaction. When in doubt, ask your doctor for recommendations.
The amount of coffee you drink also makes a difference. A small cup delivers enough caffeine to provide a mental boost without stimulating the bowels in some people. In other people, a few sips are all it takes to prompt a trip to the bathroom.
Best Diet for Hemorrhoids
Whether you have hemorrhoids now or you want to avoid them in the future, the proper diet is essential. If you do just one thing, eat more fiber. The body uses fiber to absorb water; as a result, it softens the stools and makes them easier to pass. If you have constipation, increasing your fiber intake can relieve and head off discomfort down the line.
The easiest way to start is to eat more high-fiber foods. If you love vegetables, try boiled green peas, broccoli, cucumbers, and brussels sprouts. Add more salads to your weekly menu; dark, leafy greens, including spinach, are packed with good-for-you nutrients. High-fiber fruits include raspberries, blackberries, pears, and apples (with the skin).
Whole grains are also an essential part of a high-fiber diet. Stock up on pasta made from whole-wheat flour, and switch out your white bread for whole-grain or rye bread. In the morning, dig into oats or bran cereal. Legumes like lentils and black beans also have incredibly high fiber levels — about 15 grams per cup.
Some other whole-grain options include:
- Brown rice
As you’re revamping your diet, keep track of the fiber content. Women should get a minimum of 21-25 grams of fiber every day, while men need 30-38 grams. If you have trouble reaching these levels, ask your doctor about fiber supplements.
Any time you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, it’s essential to drink more water. Since fiber is highly absorbent, you’ll need to be properly hydrated. This is particularly important if you’re taking fiber supplements. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. To compound the health effects and keep everything moving, make a point to sit less and get more exercise.
Foods To Avoid with Hemorrhoids
If you’re suffering from hemorrhoids, a conservative diet is almost always a good option. That means that you should avoid foods that substantially affect your digestive system or foods that are extremely low in fiber.
For many adults, it’s helpful to avoid:
- Fast food
- Ice cream
- Highly processed foods
- Energy drinks
You might notice that there are several different dairy products on the list. That’s because dairy can cause constipation in some people and make it worse in others. Since your goal is to avoid straining, it’s a good idea to avoid anything that might prohibit bowel movements.
Keep in mind that your body might be different. Think back — are there any foods that cause an upset stomach or bowel irritation? Do certain foods tend to make you bloat? If so, try to avoid them while you’re going through the healing process. Your goal is to keep the digestive system working smoothly and efficiently. It’s crucial to pay attention to allergies and sensitivities, even those with mild effects. After your flare-up goes away, your doctor will advise you if it’s safe to return to your usual eating habits.
Does coffee have a substantial effect on your bowel movements?
Your doctor may advise you to cut back on your caffeine intake while you’re dealing with hemorrhoids. If you’re accustomed to drinking three or four cups of coffee each day, quitting, cold-turkey can cause caffeine withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
Depending on the severity of the swelling around your anus, these side effects might be worthwhile. If not, try to cut back gradually. One 8 oz. cup of coffee contains about 96 mg of caffeine; if you usually drink three cups in the morning, try drinking two cups. Then, slowly decrease the amount until it boosts your awareness without stimulating your bowels.
Another way to cut back on caffeine is to switch to decaffeinated coffee. Green tea and herbal tea can also provide the same warm, comforting effect without digestive distress.
Hemorrhoids aren’t a topic that comes up in everyday conversation, but they’re remarkably prevalent among adults. In many cases, you can alleviate a flare-up at home by avoiding excess pressure and following a diet that doesn’t irritate your digestive system. With quick action, many people experience relief in as little as three or four days. If you experience a more extended period of widespread, painful swelling, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.