Respecting your body is one of the concepts I often talk about in my classes. What does respecting your body mean to you? To me it means giving it healthy food. I recently had the pleasure of reading an article by Jillian McKee, a Complementary Medicine Advocate, about the importance of a healthy diet and how it not only relates to people with cancer but for those of us not carrying a cancer diagnosis (yet). According to the American Cancer Society, men have a 45% risk and women a 38% risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy diet does not make you bullet proof when it comes to cancer but it can help.
Here’s what Jillian has to say:
Good nutrition is important to the body because it helps it to grow, protects and repairs tissue, and it helps to keep a person’s body healthy. When a person is diagnosed with cancer their previous healthy eating habits will make it easier for them to fight their cancer. This includes dealing with their cancer treatment without as many negative side effects, having more energy to fight the cancer, and giving them more energy to fight their cancer diagnosis. People with a healthy diet in their daily lifestyle are more likely to have a healthier immune system, which means their chance of surviving cancer is greater than the chances of those who do not eat well.
A healthy diet is one of the alternative mesothelioma treatment options. Additionally, it is an alternative treatment option for all types of cancer. When a cancer patient’s body does not get the nutrition it needs, it is likely to become malnourished, which makes it even more difficult for the body to fight the cancer in it. This is not to say that people who did not eat right before they were diagnosed with cancer aren’t going to be able to fight their cancer as easily. If someone didn’t eat right before, they need to change their eating habits now. By eating healthy before cancer is diagnosed, after diagnosis, throughout treatment, and after remission, people are less likely to develop cancer again.
Many different forms of cancer make it difficult for people to get the nutrition they need, which is why many doctors want their cancer patients to undergo nutrition therapy throughout their cancer treatment. Nutrition therapy makes sure that the patient is getting enough of the many nutrients they need, that their body is absorbing them correctly, and that they are not becoming malnourished.
One of the benefits of eating well while undergoing cancer treatment is that a healthy diet helps to fight the negative side effects caused by cancer treatment. Many people undergoing cancer treatment experience these awful side effects. They include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, fatigue, and other symptoms. A healthy diet gives cancer patients more energy. More energy allows them to experience less stress. Less stress means they will feel fewer symptoms of depression. Experiencing fewer symptoms of depression means people will be happier. When patients are happier, their quality of life improves. When a patient’s quality of life improves, their prognosis improves.
One of the most important nutrients a cancer patient needs is protein. Protein helps to build muscle, provides energy, and helps to rebuild damaged tissue. People should get plenty of protein so that they feel better, look better, and aren’t malnourished. Additionally, eating carbohydrates and fatty foods is good for people with cancer. This may seem like it cannot be true, but both are great sources of energy. When cancer patients have more energy, they feel better. When they feel better, their immune system is stronger. When their immune system is stronger, their ability to fight cancer is better.
Water is another important nutrient for people fighting cancer. Since the body is made up mostly of water, patients need to get as much as possible. Doctors typically recommend getting at least eight glasses of water with at least eight ounces of water in each glass on a daily basis. This is good for people who want to fight their cancer, because it will prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea are a few of the negative side effects of cancer treatment, and each one diminishes a person’s supply of water, which leads to dehydration.
People who eat well before they are diagnosed with cancer, after they are diagnosed with cancer and after they are in remission are healthier than those who do not eat well. People who eat a healthy diet are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer later in life. This goes for people who have already had cancer and those who have not ever had cancer. When in remission, it is important for people to maintain a healthy diet because it can lessen their risk of being diagnosed with cancer again in the future. There is no downside to eating right when fighting cancer.
About the author: Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.