An anal fistula is associated with pain and discomfort while passing stools which worsens with repeated straining while passing stools and constipation. Bowel movements are very closely related to food intake and thus it is very important for patients with fistula to follow a strict diet. As a general rule, patients with fistula should avoid a diet plan that is low in fibre. Also, inadequate intake of fluids and water can worsen the problem of fistula. Patients with fistula should follow a diet designed to soften the stools to reduce straining while defaecation. In some patients, the fistula may be associated with bleeding and soreness. It is recommended to follow a high protein diet with adequate fluid intake in such cases.
Foods to Avoid with Fistula
A person suffering from fistula can manage the problems arising because of it through diet to a great extent. Hence it is very important to follow the diet plan as prescribed and avoid things which might increase the troubles of fistula.
- It is advised to avoid food products with caffeine when having fistula as it can lead to dehydration and loss of water from the body. This includes food items such as tea, coffee, chocolates etc. This can be switched with options such as herbal tea or lemon juice with honey.
- Alcohol intake should be restricted with fistula, as it can also cause dehydration leading to hard stools.
- It is recommended to avoid refined food and also fatty and fried food when suffering from fistula; and include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet.
- Avoid soft drinks and food products comprising of white flour.
- With fistula, it is important to avoid food products that do not break down easily in the digestive tract such as corn, seeds, skinned food, certain variety of nuts etc.
- Avoid food products that are hard on the digestive system, such as food products with high sugar content, sweeteners, corn syrup with high fructose content etc.
- Heavy dairy products should be avoided, especially for a week or 2 post surgery for fistula.
- Gluten products should be taken in moderation. This is because gluten is a large protein and it is hard to break to down. Needless to mention, gluten products should be strictly avoided by patients with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
- It is best to avoid hot and spicy food as it may worsen the problem of fistula and can increase the discomfort and irritation while defecation.
- It is wise to avoid diuretics, as they drain out fluid from the body.
- When suffering from fistula, it is advised to follow a routine and avoid late night dinner and eating out as it may affect the digestion pattern, which in turn may affect the bowel movement. One should also avoid large and heavy meals and stick to smaller, frequent meals in order to reduce the load of digestion.
- It is also important to avoid stress at work and home as this may worsen the condition and causes indigestion.
It is advised for patients with fistula to follow a fibre rich and protein rich diet with adequate intake of fluids. Besides water, they can consider other liquid products such as fruit juices, soups, broths etc., in order to maintain soft stools. Adding an extra amount of fat in diet can ease bowel movements. Patients can consider consuming buttermilk with salt, or glasses of milk with clarified butter (ghee) for soften their bowel movement. It is important to follow a fistula diet to avoid excessive straining while defaecation. Excessive straining may worsen the condition and may lead to formation of ulcers and bleeding.
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