It’s almost a truism that we take our health for granted. And that’s the one thing we should never do. Fact is, the one and only thing we have is our health. That goes – and it’s downhill from there.
The thing is…
Our health is the best defense we have against all the trials and tribulations that life throws at us.
A strong, healthy body will help us through a lot of crap…
And it can help us through some of the worst scenerios life can throw at us.
The following is a great post that Jillian McKee wrote for SmartWeightGain. I am both honored and humbled that Ms. McKee took the time to share her thoughts with me, and important, you. I hope you have no one in your family or circle of friends that is fighting cancer. But if you do, Ms. McKee offers great thoughts and insights that can help.
The Effects of Nutrition on Cancer: Eating Well Saves Lives
By Jillian McKee
Although a healthy diet is important for everyone, good nutrition during cancer treatment can mean the difference between life and death. According to experts in the growing field of nutrition therapy, a nutritious diet that takes into consideration the unique needs of cancer patients can improve treatment outcomes and enhance quality of life.
Loss of appetite (anorexia) accompanies many forms of cancer. A lack of interest in eating, early satiety, and pain when eating, swallowing or digesting food can contribute to the often-extreme weight loss that occurs during cancer. The muscle wasting, cachexia, can lead to debilitation, weakness and even death. For these reasons, nutritious means are essential for those coping with cancer.
A study reported by the National Institutes for Health notes that up to one-quarter of all cancer patients experience some form of appetite loss, caused by the cancer itself, side effects of treatment, or the stress associated with a diagnosis of cancer. Malnutrition stemming from anorexia and subsequent cachexia is a cause of death in nearly 40 percent of cancer patients. For these reasons, a healthy diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetable, and nutrient rich, low-fat protein sources supports treatment protocols and helps to stave off the wasting associated with cancers, improving energy and comfort for those with all kinds of cancers, even those with a poor leukemia of mesothelioma prognosis.
Nutritionists specializing in oncology pont out that a healthy diet that improves a patient’s weight and stamina before beginning treatment can contribute to better treatment outcomes. Keeping a patient’s weight up and appetite simulated before starting a regimen of chemotherapy or radiation can mitigate the side effects of treatment. Patients who are able to eat well lose less weight during treatment and are able to regain weight lost, which helps to prevent the potentially deadly outcomes of malnutrition.
A nutritious diet that supports the immune system and provides the energy needed for healing can also improve outcomes of surgical treatments. Lean protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables provide the needed vitamins, minerals and energy to rebuild tissue and muscle mass.
Although the components of a typical healthy diet also form the foundation for a nutritious eating plan during cancer treatment, some considerations apply. Diet plans must take into consideration cancer-related problems such as difficulty chewing and swallowing, or the digestive difficulties associated with gastrointestinal cancers or systemic treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Some studies recommend that cancer patients avoid raw fruits and vegetables for better digestion and to avoid potential contaminants. And in some cases, diets higher in fat can stimulate the growth of certain tumors. Likewise, experts urge caution in the use of vitamin supplements, which provide high amounts of antioxidant vitamins A and C, because they may actually stimulate tumor growth in some situations.
For these reasons, cancer specialists stress the importance of working with a nutritionist familiar with cancer-related issues to find the healthiest diet plan for each individual’s circumstances. Good nutrition that supports a healthy weight, stimulates appetite and boosts the immune system can also improve a patient’s mood, increase energy levels and contribute to a better quality of life overall.
Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, 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.
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