Using Food to Combat Constipation
Depending on the type of cancer, constipation is an early symptom for cancers that impact the gastrointestinal tract, such as colon cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments can also cause constipation. U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center Nutrition Services offers some suggestions to help alleviate constipation.
- Eat at regular times each day.
- Try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day to establish regularity.
- Drink eight to 10 cups of liquid each day. Try water, prune juice, warm juices, teas and hot lemonade.
- If gas becomes a problem, limit drinks and foods that cause gas, such as carbonated drinks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, dried beans, peas and onions. To lessen the amount of swallowed air, limit talking while eating, drink without straws and avoid chewing gum.
- Eat high-fiber and bulky foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables (raw and cooked with skins and peels on), popcorn and dried beans.
- Talk to your dietetics professional about a high-calorie, high-protein, fiber-containing liquid supplement if you need more calories, protein and fiber.
- Use laxatives only on the advice of your physician. Contact your doctor if you have not had a bowel movement for three days or longer.
High-Fiber Foods to Choose More Often
|Serving Size||Dietary Fiber (grams)|
|Breads and Cereals|
|Bran cereals||1/2 cup||3-13|
|Brown rice||1/2 cup||6|
|Whole-wheat bread||1 slice||1-2|
|Wheat bran, raw||1/4 cup||6|
|Kidney beans*||1/2 cup||8|
|Navy beans*||1/2 cup||9|
|Brussels sprouts*||1/2 cup||3|
|Green peas||1/2 cup||3|
|Potato with skin||1 medium||3|
|Apple with peel||1 medium||4|
|Pear with skin||1 medium||5|
The recommended intake of fiber is 25 to 35 grams a day. Increase fiber gradually.
*These foods tend to cause gas