Integrative medicine emphasizes personal empowerment to choose a healthy lifestyle that can help prevent cancer from occurring, support the body through the treatment or prevent recurrence. Many factors may not be in our control but certain lifestyle choices are.
1. During cancer treatment, food should not only support the body but also minimize the adverse reactions and even possibly potentiate the treatment effects. Eat a plant-based diet rich in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), avoid trans fats and increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseed, walnuts). Avoid sugar and processed foods. Buy organic as much as possible. One great website to check for information is Environmental Working Group for their extensive database including food, safe cosmetics or cleaning products to name a few. Drink 2-3 cups green tea a day and don’t forget your water. Incorporate mushrooms in your diet, particularly the medicinal varieties such as maitake, reishi, shiitake ; some may be as supplements.
2. Use dietary supplements cautiously and always check with your health care practitioner, some of the most common supplements used are aloe vera, vitamin D products, melatonin for sleep, milk thistle for liver protection.
3. Consider testing for intracellular nutrient deficiencies and replenish accordingly to make sure your body has enough resources to detox and heal.
4. Exercise! Combine aerobic activity, such as walking, with strength training and also consider more meditative movement like yoga or tai chi. Many studies actually show improved strength, immunity, well-being and survival rates.
5. Try alternative treatments for the various chemo adverse reactions: acupuncture is great for fatigue, nausea, postmenopausal symptoms, pain or lymphedema. Massage therapy is great for anxiety, insomnia or pain; look for a massage therapist who is trained to work with cancer patients. Any form of stress reduction therapies also help: meditation, art therapy, music, mindfulness-based stress reduction.
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