Most cancer patients today lose their lives not because of cancer, but because of the side-effects of chemotherapy. The powerful and toxic treatment may successfully kill cancerous cells, but it also damages other healthy cells in the bargain, making them weak contenders for new mutations. It also compromises immunity – the important line of defense against any disease.
Weakened immunity is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Other side effects include nausea, constipation, hair loss, anaemia, fatigue, skin changes, insomnia, depression and mood disorders.
Instead of resorting to another set of medicines to suppress these side-effects, one can support their bodies by making lifestyle changes that work alongside chemotherapy and minimise the collateral damage.
Diet during chemo has a huge role to play. Eating the right foods can help those undergoing chemo lower risk of infection, reduce side effects and aid in recovery.
At the same time, it can be very challenging to eat well because chemotherapy can affect both appetite and flavour preference. I suggest patients include these super-foods that are packed with nutrition in their diet, even in small doses:
Curcumin (turmeric extract) works brilliantly with cancer patients and balances the side effects of chemo by boosting immunity.
Its highly anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and that helps because cancer is an inflammatory disease. A combination supplement of curcumin and piperine is a good choice as piperine from black pepper helps in its absorption.
Microgreens contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.
Microgreens of cruciferous plants like red cabbage, mustard, raddish, broccoli contain live enzymes and sulfur-containing chemicals that protect DNA damage, support detoxification at cellular level, inactivate carcinogens, exhibit antiviral and antibacterial effects and inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis.
They are alkaline and a good source of easy-to-digest fibre, making them a perfect food for cancer patients that can help alleviate constipation in certain cases . One can juice the shoots, add to soups, daal or vegetable preparations.
Moringa mostly known for its abundance in protein, calcium, iron; and high levels of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, B ,C that can help offset cancer therapy side effects, and even reduce the on-going process of cancer.
The leaves of the moringa contain all the essential amino acids that can help boost the immune system. Due to the loss of nutrients and appetite in chemotherapy, malnutrition and severe weight loss is seen and that moringa can help combat .
Moringa provides an easy way to meet your daily nutrient requirements without having to eat a full-fledged meal.
Coconut oil is abundant in its healing properties. Its tree is often referred to as ‘the tree of life’. It provides protection from viruses, bacteria and infection. Use wet milled or gentle cold press oil for therapeutic effect – one tbsp in morning and one in the evening. The MCT in coconut oil also fight fatigue and enhance absorption of vital nutrients.
All seeds (watermelon , flax , sunflower, sesame) particularly pumpkin are abundant in zinc, magnesium, B vitamins like folic acid and biotin that help protect DNA, cellular oxygenation and detoxifying lignans.
There’s a reason that treatments to prevent and quell the common cold generally contain zinc – it’s an important mineral that plays a significant role in immune function and helps fight fatigue.
The seeds also contain numerous forms of vitamin E (tocotrienols and tocopherols), as well as the phenolic acids that are very powerful at enhancing immune function. Omega-3 essential fatty acids disrupt malignant cells from clinging onto other body cells.
In addition, flaxseeds helps reduce oestrogen levels and have lignans that exhibit have antiangiogenic properties – they stop tumours from forming new blood vessels. Just be sure of eating soaked seeds to get rid of anti-nutrient.
(Luke Coutinho is M.D. Alternative Medicine (Integrative & Lifestyle) & Holistic Nutritionist. Luke treats patients with disease and specializes in cancer with a holistic and integrative approach worldwide.)
(Have you subscribed to FIT’s newsletter yet? Click here and get health updates directly in your inbox.)