February 11, 2023
Food is such an important part of recovering well.
Our food is where we get all the nutrients we need for healthy processes in our bodies.
Our food is also a key factor in having the support we need from beneficial microbes in our gut.
Our food choices are not just driven by nutrition, or awareness of beneficial microbes though. We all have preferences for what we want to eat. We have what is normal to us. What feels right because it’s what we are used to. We have the unfamiliar that’s interesting and exciting. And the unfamiliar that just feels too strange.
When I was first diagnosed I felt that a few of my go-to nutrition books and authors were written in an almost judgemental way. The claim was that cancer is preventable, and it all comes down to diet. When I looked further into this I found a study on colon cancer where the highest proportion of diet-related cancer cases was 38 percent. That means that less than half of all colon cancer cases were considered attributable to diet alone.
Can what we eat make a difference to our wellness and wellbeing? Does diet matter when it comes to recovering well? The study I mentioned shows that diet alone may not be the whole picture. That doesn’t mean that diet isn’t important. We are what we eat is an often used maxim, and while there is more research to be done, when it comes to cancer survivorship a largely plant based diet, with limited amounts of red and processed meats, and low alcohol are recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Cancer Society.
Yes we are! Part of recovering well is making deliberate and conscious choices about our behaviours, habits and beliefs. We have the opportunity to evaluate what was (and wasn’t ) working for us and work towards making the changes that work better for us. (Technically non cancer diagnosed people can do this too but there's possibly nothing quite like a life-threatening diagnosis to bring what matters most into focus). We can use the best of the current general guidelines on what to eat to inform us on what to eat as we recover and support our health over the longer term.
We are focussing on recovering well. We need to supply the nutrients that our bodies need to heal and be well. And we deserve the wellness and well-being that comes with eating nourishing healthy foods. But which are the right foods? AND WHERE DO WE START?
Your digestive system is how you process the food you eat and get access to the nutrients in your food. Your gut is where all the beneficial bacteria live that synthesize vitamins that we can use. Stress, depression and diet all affect the gut microbiota, which in turn can affect your stress responsiveness and may encourage unhealthy eating. It’s an unhelpful cycle.
On top of this chemotherapy is well-known for the negative side effects that can occur to the digestive system, including diarrhoea or constipation and these side effects may last long after chemotherapy has stopped. *
Chemotherapy can also have negative effects on your microbiota (the beneficial organisms that live in our gut and support our health and well-being).
If your symptoms are debilitating then you will need to see a suitably qualified practitioner who can support you through this.
Although what you eat is a huge topic, and can be overwhelming and confusing, it is also a source of power. You have got to eat, so you might as well be eating healthy food that supports you and the gut microbes that help you.
How do you go about doing this?
Miso soup is a fermented product that contains various microorganisms that are thought to be beneficial for humans. My favourite recipe is the Super-Tasty Miso Broth that comes from Jamie Oliver’s book Everyday Super Food. I cheat and use a dried mushroom mix rather than just the porcini , and often I use tofu instead of chicken. This soup is comforting, easy to make and easy to eat. This makes it my favourite of the fermented foods as a starting point in recovering well.
Increase your vegetables, and fruit such as carrots, apples, cauliflower, avocado and oranges. Short chart fatty acids (SCFA) are thought to be helpful in supporting healthy gut barrier function and being beneficial for helpful probiotic gut bacteria. As well as containing fibre that supports short chain fatty acid production the above foods are also nutrient dense, water containing, easy to source and versatile which makes them my top picks.
Apple Cider Vinegar 1 tbsp in 300mls water each day before breakfast. Apple Cider Vinegar is a traditional source of acetate (one of those helpful SCFA I mentioned a moment ago). Apple cider vinegar has also been used traditionally to support digestion. Some people find it unpalatable or even aggravating so while it’s mostly likely worth a try, only keep using it if it works for you.
As a naturopath I called my business Anewable, because I wanted to promote the process of taking what is good and improving, keeping going and growing, and taking care of yourself. If you would like the support of individual naturopathic consultations you as you make changes towards healthier habits, you can contact me at Amanda@anewable.co.nz
Some of the references I used for the information is this article are:
1. Leeming ER, Johnson AJ, Spector TD, Le Roy CI. Effect of Diet on the Gut Microbiota: Rethinking Intervention Duration. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 22;11(12):2862. doi: 10.3390/nu11122862. PMID: 31766592; PMCID: PMC6950569.
2. Zhang FF, Cudhea F, Shan Z, Michaud DS, Imamura F, Eom H, Ruan M, Rehm CD, Liu J, Du M, Kim D, Lizewski L, Wilde P, Mozaffarian D. Preventable Cancer Burden Associated With Poor Diet in the United States. JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2019 May 22;3(2):pkz034. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pkz034. PMID: 31360907; PMCID: PMC6649723.
3. Kotake K, Kumazawa T, Nakamura K, Shimizu Y, Ayabe T, Adachi T. Ingestion of miso regulates immunological robustness in mice. PLoS One. 2022 Jan 21;17(1):e0261680. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261680. PMID: 35061718; PMCID: PMC8782471.
October 06, 2023
I have found with the people that I help that using minerals gives us a strong foundation to work with.
On a personal level I am extremely grateful for the support of minerals!!
September 01, 2023
August 25, 2023
When you start to think in a downward spiral, or become distracted or focussing on negative “unwanted” thoughts - of the past, the present or the future you simply tell your brain “Useful Thoughts Only”
The trick is catching yourself in the act, but I suspect you may have a few (or even many) opportunities each day to practice this technique. The great thing is, even if you realise after quite a while that you have been riding the unhelpful thought train, you can stop at any time and tell yourself - USEFUL THOUGHTS ONLY.