Cancer and Constipation: Recipes to ease constipation

by Dr Krishna Priya
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Constipation is a common complaint during cancer treatment. In this article, Dr Krishna Priya, Senior Nutritionist, explains how we can reduce constipation through a better diet. You can try out these recipes to ease constipation and improve bowel movement. 

What kinds of foods should I eat during constipation?

Constipation is generally attributed to low fibre content in your diet. This means, eating foods with more dietary fibre. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibre gives bulk to the stools and helps to reduce blood cholesterol and sugar. Foods like bananas, oats, and beans have more soluble fibre. 

Insoluble fibres help in the smooth and quick movement of stolls in the digestive tract, preventing constipation. Whole grains, vegetables and legumes are good sources of insoluble fibres. 

While having sufficient fibre in your diet is essential for healthy digestion, having too much fibre (more than 70 gm/day) can also cause constipation. 

cancer and constipation

Let’s look at some common foods that are high in dietary fibre:

  • Beans and legumes, including chickpeas (chanas) and lentils (dals)
  • Prunes (dried plums)
  • Vegetables like spinach, beetroot and carrots
  • Fruits like bananas, apples and pears
  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains like oats and whole wheat
  • Nuts like almonds and pistachios

Are there other remedies?

If you are already eating a high fibre diet and are still constipated, you may need to check for other reasons. Here are some tips:

  • Drinking sufficient water can relieve constipation. If you find it difficult to drink large amounts of water, consider having coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk etc
  • Movement can help ease constipation. Going for a walk, or exercising at home can help reduce symptoms. 
  • Space your meals, allowing a gap of two hours between two meals to give time for digestion. 
  • Avoid deep fried foods as these slow down digestion leading to constipation. For the same reason, you should also avoid processed foods like chips and candy, as well as red meat. 
  • Having healthy fats like fatty fish like sardine and mackerel, nuts and olive oil can improve digestion, reducing constipation

Recipes to reduce constipation

Oats porridge

diet during cancer

Ingredients

  • Instant oats or rolled oats, 1 cup
  • Apple, chopped, 1/2 cup
  • Chia seeds, 2 tablespoons (can be substituted with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds)
  • Water, 2 cups or as required
  • Peanut butter, 1 tablespoon
  • Raisins, 1 tablespoon

Method

  • Combine all of the ingredients with the water and bring to a boil.
  • Allow to simmer till the apples and the oats are soft, stirring continuously. 
  • Garnish with raisins and serve at room temperature.

Apple salad

diet for cancer patients

Ingredients

  • Apple, 1 cup finely chopped
  • Mint leaves, ¼ cup, finely chopped
  • Lemon juice, 1 tsp
  • Ginger juice, 1 tsp
  • Honey, 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss them well. Serve without delay.

Yogurt bowl

Yogurt provides probiotic properties that help with digestion. You can also use thick curd in place of yogurt. 

relief for constipation during cancer treatment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt (or thick curd)
  • 1 cup banana, bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbs chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts etc)
  • Honey, as per taste

Method

Combine all the ingredients and serve cold or at room temperature.

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