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Nutrition is an important part of life, cancer treatment, recovery, and prevention. Food is one of the few things you can be in control of during your treatment. The oncology certified registered dietitians at the Stanford Cancer Center are here to help you make informed choices about nutrition, answer your nutrition-related questions, and help you to achieve and maintain good health.
Some anticancer medications, pain medications, and other medications cause constipation, a condition in which the stool becomes hard and dry, making it difficult to pass. Waste matter that stays too long in the bowels so that too much water is absorbed from the stools will initiate constipation. The following suggestions may help to prevent or alleviate constipation:
Drink plenty of liquids, especially water - at least eight big glasses every day.
Drink a hot drink such as hot tea one hour before your usual time for a bowel movement.
Try to avoid gas-forming foods and beverages such as broccoli, cabbage, and carbonated beverages.
Try to get some exercise every day to help prevent constipation.
If you have not had a bowel movement for a day or two, call your physician who may suggest taking a laxative or stool softener. High-fiber foods will help constipation but check with your physician or registered dietitian before you eat these foods because there are certain types of cancer for which a high-fiber diet is not recommended.
The following are high-fiber foods that may help to relieve constipation (if you are permitted to eat them; always consult your physician or dietitian for more information):
Whole-grain breads and cereals
Fresh fruits and vegetables including the skin on your potatoes
Broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables. This vegetable family contains powerful phytochemicals, including carotenoids, indoles and glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have been studied and shown to slow the growth of many cancers.