At some point in our lives, especially the older we get, we all know someone going through cancer treatment. This blog is devoted to helping yourself or someone you know eat better and be more active to complement the course of treatment that they have chosen. These are NOT suggestions to replace treatment. When your body is healthy it will fight the disease better and may even help minimize some of the side effects such as fatigue and nausea.
This month, I will be breaking down this blog into prevention of breast cancer, complimentary therapy during cancer treatment and healthy living in survivorship. If you want an incredible reference, purchase 101 Things You Should Know About Breast Cancer by Pam Schmid (find at www.pamshmid.com). She goes into more depth on more topics than I will with my blogs, so her book is a great reference for anyone going through treatment or who is a survivor or if you know anyone who is or has undergone treatment for breast cancer. It’s actually a good reference for most types of cancer.
Cancer treatment has changed much since I first began working with people undergoing radiation and/or chemo therapy. It used to be that everyone was nauseous, had trouble eating and lost mass amounts of weight, which was not good for them. Now, treatment is still aggressive, however many people, especially undergoing breast cancer treatment, actually gain weight. Some reasons are obvious side effects of some of the current medications and some causes are more ambiguous. Regardless, healthy eating, activity, weight maintenance, or if needed very modest weight loss, are important during and after treatment and are predictors of mortality. According to the American Cancer Society, our physical activity and eating habits could reduce cancer mortality in the United States by as much as one-third! That’s dramatic! The research is strong that choosing healthy eating incorporating 7 - 9 servings of vegetables and fruits every day, incorporating a variety of colors and participating in both cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise makes a difference in your quality of life and longevity. In regards to mortality rates of cancer survivors, modest weight loss of 7 - 10 percent if needed or weight maintenance is shown to have the best results.
What to choose:
• IF you’re fatigued, make your goal to move at a low intensity. If you are not fatigued, aim to meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans minimal recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity EACH week of physical activity, including resistance training.
• At minimum, maintain your weight. If you need to lose weight, aim for modest weight loss toward achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for your body.
• Limit consumption of processed meats and animal proteins.
• Eat at least 2 1/2 cups (7-9 servings) of vegetables and fruits daily. Choose a rainbow of colors as the variety of colors provides a variety of rich anti-oxidant rich nutrients.
• Choose whole foods vs. processed foods and refined grains. Less processing is less exposure to chemicals.
• If you’re experiencing nausea, choose cold foods, which have less odor and are more appealing. Sometimes, a liquid meal replacement is helpful to get your nutrition when eating is too cumbersome.
• Ensure you are maintaining your hydration to avoid further nausea and other problems associated with dehydration.
• Choose food instead of pills. Supplements may be organic, natural, or even vegetarian, but they are still pills and except for fish oil, the research on supplements overwhelmingly shows that the pill form of nutrients does not produce the same health benefits as we get from eating the foods rich in nutrients. Although there may be cause to supplement our food choices, refrain from replacing food.
• Consult your physician before using supplements, especially herbal preparations, as there can be negative interactions with you treatment.
• Limit alcoholic beverages, if you drink.
What will you choose today to improve your mortality risk of cancer?
Check out our workshops throughout October for hands on information on nutrition, lifestyle, yoga, pilates, and Qi Gong with an emphasis on various stages of prevention and treatment of breast cancer.