Guest Post: The Importance of Healthy Eating for Cancer Patients


I am pleased to introduce FFFE’s first guest blogger, Jillian McKee. Her fabulous post reminds us how important it is to hold onto (or start building!) healthy eating habits when cancer rears its ugly head.

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.

As an addition to the great information below, social support can also be crucial for cancer survival. In a study of women diagnosed with breast cancer, those with higher social support ratings were significantly more likely to recover and less likely to have a recurrence of the disease. One more great reason to find and keep some Forever Friends

Here’s Jillian!:

When you are diagnosed with cancer, it can be a life-changing experience that affects many different aspects of your routine. During cancer treatment, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your chances of beating the disease and living a healthy life. Eating healthy is one of the most important things that you can do in this situation. Why exactly is eating healthy important when you are diagnosed with cancer?

Healthy Food photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.netImprove Quality of Life

Eating healthy will not necessarily cure your cancer, but it will improve your quality of life. Many people who are going through cancer treatment lose weight, and feel very weak throughout the process. This often leads to discouragement and a negative attitude for the patient. If you take the time to eat a diet full of healthy foods, you will generally feel better. Going to your treatment may not seem so bad when you have a good attitude. Eating the right foods can make you feel better and keep your treatment up.

Boost Your Energy

One of the problems that many cancer patients have to deal with is a lack of energy. They don’t feel up to doing a whole lot of anything. If you make a conscious effort to eat healthy, you’ll be able to improve your energy levels and do more with your time. People who eat right are able to enjoy lifestyles that aren’t that much different than they were before. When you have more going on in your life, you have more to live for, and you can fight the cancer harder.

Avoid Malnutrition

Most cancer treatments can be very hard on your body. If you don’t eat the right types of foods, you may eventually suffer from malnutrition. When you suffer from malnutrition, your cancer treatment may lead to a number of problems. Many who are going through cancer treatment have weakened immune systems. If you have a weakened immune system and you are suffering from malnutrition, it will be very easy for you to get sick. By eating healthy foods, you may be able to avoid sickness and improve your chances of survival. For example, the mesothelioma survival rate is much higher with people who eat right because it reduces the risk of other complications.

Overall, there are a number of benefits that come with eating a healthy diet when you are a cancer patient.  Eating right could be the difference between losing the fight and ultimately beating the disease.

Advertisements

If All Else Fails, Make Food and Exercise Your Friends


For a recent project, I have been doing lots of research on mental health and how important exercise and the right diet can be to happiness and a positive mood. Although I am a ridiculously unreliable exerciser (despite my love for yoga, hiking, and looking good!), I must admit that every time I break a sweat I do feel good about myself. I also seem to see invisible physical benefits very, very quickly (yeah, I definitely have a smaller tummy now that I ran for 15 minutes…definitely).

Get Your Exercise

Physical Activity Improves Mood

Similarly, I have a love-hate relationship with health food. At times, I am all about whole foods, shunning processed or anything with added salt or sugar or fat or any ingredients I can’t pronounce. Other times (like around the holidays), I am a sugar, fat, and carb aficionado. The more chocolate, butter, and booze the better! On the whole, though, I like to think that I am a relatively healthy eater, and I take pride in forcing my husband to be the same.

The natural buzz I get from eating well  and yes, exercising occasionally, is not just self-righteous health-nut pride, but Mother Nature’s way of saying “Yes, this is good for you – do more of this and all will be well!”

Food and Exercise Can Improve Mood

Foods with complex carbohydrates, magnesium and selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, amino acids, and a variety of vitamins and antioxidants can help stimulate the production of feel-good chemicals in your brain. Boosting your production of serotonin, endorphins, fatty gray matter, and neurotransmitters in your brain translates to elevated energy levels, improved mood, better sleep, less frustration and anxiety, better stress management techniques, fewer symptoms of depression, improved memory, and even higher levels of motivation and alertness.

Some star foods for these benefits include bananas, spinach, salmon, walnuts, dark chocolate (hooray!), milk, brown rice, and turkey.

Get Fishy With It

Eat well to boost your mood

The somewhat harder pill to swallow is that exercise is not only essential for great physical health but also for excellent emotional and mental well-being. Working up a sweat, breathing hard, and stretching your muscles prompts your brain to release feel-good chemicals and produce hormones that have many of the same effects as the above-mentioned foods. Exercise can help you relax, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and reduce symptoms of depression. As an added benefit, exercising in bright daylight can help people with Seasonal Affective Disorder combat  symptoms of seasonal depression.

So the next time you have nowhere to go on a weekend night or nobody to hang out with, swap the TV and the take-out line for a jog and a salmon and veggie-licious experience that will leave you feeling content and relaxed. Who knew that exercise and food could be such healthy companions for your mood? Sign me up!