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Omega-3 Fats May be Secret to Stopping Hemorrhoid Pain

If you suffer from hemorrhoids, you've probably tried everything to relieve your pain. But have you tried upping your omega-3 intake? New studies suggest omega-3 fats may reduce painful hemorrhoid symptoms. Learn more below.
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Do you suffer from painful hemorrhoids?

There are a variety of preventive measures that can be helpful in preventing and treating painful hemorrhoid flare-ups. According to the University of Maryland, a hemorrhoid is a swelling of the blood vessels around the anus- usually caused by pressure from constipation or weakened blood vessels. You can reduce hemorrhoid pain by relieving constipation and taking supplements and eating foods that can strengthen the walls of your blood vessels.

In addition to these two measures, new studies have indicated that omega-3 fats may be able to help reduce inflammation that leads to painful hemorrhoid flare-ups. Learn more about how omega-3 fats can help prevent hemorrhoids below.

Study Details

A study from the University of Maryland published in 2012 found that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can help reduce a person’s chances of developing hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are caused by swollen veins around the anus and rectum- either on the inside or the outside. Both chronic constipation and diarrhea can both contribute to the development of hemorrhoids.

The University of Maryland study found that when individuals consumed more omega-3 fatty acids, they had reduced overall inflammation and softer stools. This prevents constipation and eases the symptoms of hemorrhoids. According to supporting studies, omega-3 fats may also help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The body cannot make these fats on its own, but omega-3 fats are essential for many of the body’s functions.

According to studies, most Americans are severely deficient in omega-3 fats, because the average American eats little fish and seafood, which is the biggest source of omega-3 fats.

The Role of Omega-3 Fats

Even with all the buzz about unhealthy fats versus healthy fats, many individuals are still confused on the role that healthy fats play in the body. According to Harvard Health, Omega-3 fats work to control inflammation, control blood clotting, build cell membranes, and help improve and regulate the immune system. Omega-3 fats have also been linked to healthy brain development and the prevention of many diseases, including dementia, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even cancer. The body cannot make omega-3 fats on its own, which is one reason why it is so important to get enough of these healthy fats.

There are 3 main kinds of omega-3 fats, which include ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA is found in many vegetables and nuts, while EPA and DHA are found mainly in seafood products. Harvard Health recommends at least one serving of an omega-3-containing food per day- such as a serving of salmon or handful of walnuts.

Studies show that omega-3 fats are most effective in a ratio of at least 4 to 1 in favor of omega-3 fats over omega-6 fats (contained in vegetable oils). Omega-6 fats can sometimes cause inflammation, while omega-3 fats reduce it. To maximize hemorrhoid control, try to eat more omega-3 fats than omega 6 fats.

Other Benefits of Omega-3 Fats

In addition to soothing hemorrhoids and healing inflammation, omega-3 fats also provide a number of other benefits in the body. In fact, omega-3 fats are some of the most beneficial nutrients in the world. A high consumption of omega-3 fats has been linked to improvements in the following health conditions according to the University of Maryland:

High Cholesterol

Individuals who eat high amounts of omega-3 fats have higher “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol levels (triglycerides). Studies show that omega-3 fats reduce triglyceride levels. Eating a lot of walnuts can lower bad cholesterol levels according to some studies.

Heart Disease

A diet rich in omega-3 fats can help lower a person’s chances of developing heart disease. According to clinical evidence, EPA and DHA (the omega-3s found in fish) reduce high blood pressure, the chance for strokes, and high cholesterol. Fish oil also prevents the hardening of the arteries. Studies show that eating 2 servings of fish per week can reduce your chances of getting a stroke by up to 50 percent.

Diabetes

Many individuals with type-2 diabetes have high cholesterol. Eating omega-3 fats can reduce cholesterol levels and may improve diabetic symptoms. High Blood Pressure Omega-3 fats have been linked to a reduction in blood pressure according to 17 clinical studies. These studies found that taking 3 or more grams of fish oil daily helped prevent high blood pressure.

Depression

Although study results are mixed, some studies show that taking omega-3 supplements can fight depression. Some studies show that depressive symptoms are reduced when omega-3 fats are taken in combination with antidepressants. Other studies showed that omega-3 supplements helped prevent postpartum depression.

Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints, and some studies show that omega-3 fats can help reduce pain and swelling in RA. Other studies show that eating more omega-3 fats than omega-6 fats was able to improve symptoms in osteoarthritis.

Bipolar Disorder

A small clinical trial of 30 people found that when individuals with bipolar disorder took fish oil supplements in addition to traditional medication, they had fewer mood swings in a 4-month period.

ADHD

Studies show that some children with ADHD have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. A study of 100 boys with ADHD found that boys with the worst symptoms had the lowest levels of omega-3 fats. Cognitive Decline Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are protective against dementia and other mental decline diseases.

Colon Cancer

Studies find that when a person eats high levels of omega-3 fats, their risk of developing colon cancer is reduced. In animal studies, animals given omega-3 supplements had slower development of colon cancer.

Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

Studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fats may be able to reduce a person’s risk of developing breast cancer and prostate cancer. Other studies show that prostate cancer and breast cancer have similar triggers in men and women.

Omega-3 Fats and Hemorrhoids

How can omega-3 fats help hemorrhoids? According to Harvard Health, omega-3 fats can help undo damage caused by unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats, like trans fats, are difficult for the body to use, which can be extremely damaging and cause inflammation in the intestinal tract. When fats are exposed to high heats, they break down, making them even harder to digest, which can lead to issues like weakened circulation, constipation, and clogged blood vessels.

These three issues contribute to the inflammation of hemorrhoids due to the weakening of the blood vessels around the anus. The worst offenders are hydrogenated fats, according to Harvard Health. Hydrogenated fats are unable to be digested by the body and are treated like waste products. Most packaged foods contain high levels of hydrogenated oils, including cookies, crackers, bread, chips, and anything made with vegetable oils or shortening. Changing the ratio of fats in the body from a high concentration of hydrogenated oils and omega-6 fats to a higher concentration of omega-6 and omega-9 fats can reduce inflammation, strengthen blood vessels, and reduce a person’s chances of painful hemorrhoids.

Where to Find Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are not difficult to find, but you won’t find them in packaged foods. According to The World’s Healthiest foods, the best sources for omega-3 fats include flax seeds, sardines, walnuts, salmon, soybeans, shrimp, Brussels sprouts, squash, and cauliflower. Each serving of these foods provide a different level of omega-3 fats.

Amount of Omega-3 in Each Serving
  • Flax seeds: 133% DRI
  • Walnuts: 113% DRI
  • Sardines: 60% DRI
  • Salmon: 55% DRI
  • Soybeans: 42% DRI
  • Shrimp: 14% DRI

All fatty fish also contain high levels of omega-3 fats, including mackerel, krill, herring, trout, and albacore tuna.

Other Beneficial Fats

The Mayo Clinic identifies several other fats in addition to omega-3 fats as a healthy, usable source of fat. These fats include:

Monounsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated fats are one of the easiest forms of fat to digest- but should be consumed without heat preparation to prevent oxidation. Monounsaturated fats are linked with sugar control, which is beneficial for individuals who struggle with high blood sugar levels or have diabetes. Find monounsaturated fats in olive oil, sunflower oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia nuts, canola oil, avocados, and soybean oil.

Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats are commonly found in vegetables. Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-6 fats, which are necessary for the body. However, it is important to watch the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 for optimal balance. Omega-3 fats are a form of polyunsaturated fat. Find polyunsaturated fats in safflower oil, decaf coffee, grape seed oil, flax seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ.

Saturated Fats: The Mayo Clinic recommends limited saturated fat intake to 10 percent of your diet. Saturated fats can provide a variety of health benefits, according to Authority Nutrition. Saturated fats have been linked with the ability to raise good cholesterol levels while reducing bad cholesterol levels.

Saturated fats also can take high-heat, which means they are perfect for using as cooking fats. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, break down with high heat, which promotes inflammation in the body. Some studies even suggest that diets higher in saturated fats contribute to a reduced risk of strokes. Find saturated fat in meat, butter, eggs, coconut oil, and palm oil.

The Ideal Diet for Hemorrhoids

In addition to upping your intake of omega-3 fats, a few other foods are also linked with a reduction in hemorrhoid symptoms according to Health Guidance.org. Look for foods high in the following nutrients: anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, vitamin C, rutin, minerals, iron, GLA fatty acids, and vinegar. The following diet changes may be helpful for easing and preventing hemorrhoid flare-ups:

Add Berries

Berries contain antioxidants, including anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which are useful for fighting inflammation. Up your intake of cherries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and currant berries. You can even add these berries to the diet in the form of juice. These berries also contain vitamin C, rutin, minerals, and GLA, which are all beneficial for fighting hemorrhoids.

Consume Iron

Iron helps strengthen the blood and may prevent it from pooling in the hemorrhoid area, relieving symptoms. Look for iron in foods including kelp, prunes, liver, crab, pistachios, sunflower seeds, raisins, and dried apricots.

Spice It Up

Adding more spices to the diet can help reduce inflammation. Garlic, onions, ginger, and turmeric are particularly effective at fighting inflammation.

Other Beneficial Foods

Other foods that are beneficial in reducing hemorrhoid symptoms include leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, flax seeds, butter beans, and lima beans. These foods are high in iron, fiber, and healthy fats that can reduce hemorrhoid symptoms.

Omega-3 Oils and Hemorrhoids

If you suffer from painful hemorrhoids, there are a variety of remedies to try that can be effective at preventing and relieving symptoms. In addition to taking herbal supplements, the increase of omega-3 fats in the diet can help relieve painful symptoms and reduce your chances of seeing additional flare-ups. Taking omega-3 fats alone may not be enough to completely heal hemorrhoids, but taking them in combination with other hemorrhoid-fighting herbs and foods can help alleviate painful symptoms during flare-ups, and prevent flare-ups from occurring in the future.

Sources


http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/6857/1/Foods-that-Help-Relieve-Hemorrhoids.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids#ixzz2Hxse45mF

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/

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