Nutrition And Cancer Recovery

What an awesome morning!  My friend Jenny and I participated in an event, “Ride For A Reason,” to support the YMCA’s LiveStrong program.  This program provides supervised exercise therapy to help those recovering from cancer therapy get their strength and endurance back.  What a great cause!  Jenny and I sponsored a vendor table and talked to lots of people about nutrition and cancer recovery.

Here’s fair warning – I will talk a bit about Shaklee products in this post.  If you’re new to the blog, you should read this page about why I choose Shaklee products for myself and my family, and recommend them to my friends and patients.

Cancer takes a lot out of you.  The treatments take even more out of you.  One thing I learned clearly with my husband’s cancer over the last 4 years is that solid nutritional support is critical.  Physical activity is very important as well.

Before I make recommendations, please be clear that ANY nutritional supplements need to be cleared by a cancer patient’s treating physician.  Some supplements interfere with chemotherapy drugs or protect cancer cells from radiation treatments.

Here are 3 suggestions for supplements to help improve nutrition and cancer recovery.

Basic Foundation

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Everyone needs a good multivitamin.  B Complex helps with energy, mood and stress management.  Fish oil is good for everybody and provides needed essential fatty acids.  Probiotics support the immune system.

The best basic foundation product I’ve ever seen is Vitalizer.  If anybody deserves high-powered nutritional support it’s someone struggling through cancer therapy.

Protein

When Russ was going through chemo, nobody really offered much in the way of dietary advice.  They just told him to eat.  Eat a lot.  Eat anything and everything he wanted.

I get that.  Chemo kills your appetite.  Mouth sores and effects from radiation (especially to the head and neck) can make it hard to swallow.  However, many people going through chemotherapy choose carbohydrate “comfort food.”

The problem with carbs is that even though they make you feel better emotionally, the body desperately needs protein to provide enzymes and structural protein for new cells.  Chemo kills healthy cells just like cancer cells and the body has to replace them.

Shaklee offers great tasting protein supplements.  From Vitalizing Protein smoothees to Instant Soy Protein which can be mixed into soups, oatmeal, muffins and other foods, boosting your cancer survivor’s protein intake in a way that tastes good and is easy to swallow.

By the way, even though Shaklee has a great weight loss program, the Vitalizing Protein smoothees are NOT meant for weight loss.  They are safe for kids and adults and make a great tasting snack or quick meal on the go.  And unless you are allergic to soy, there’s no reason to avoid soy if you’re a thyroid or breast cancer patient.  I’m planning to review the literature on soy in breast cancer survivors in a post in the near future.

Immune Support

I probably don’t have to say much to convince you that the immune system takes a beating during cancer treatment.  Infection is a constant risk.  Most people who die during treatment actually die of an infection, unfortunately.

During cancer therapy, everyone should take a probiotic supplement.  They provide beneficial bacteria to support digestive health and keep harmful bacteria in the intestine in check.  We are just beginning to explore just how much the good bacteria in the intestine do to keep the body healthy, and the research is stunning.

Shaklee’s OptiFlora is the product I trusted to keep my own personal cancer patient’s immune system running right.  With few exceptions (namely a horrible respiratory bug we brought back from China in 2012) it has done a marvelous job.  My whole family (including my eight-year-old son) take it daily and we rarely come down with anything beyond a cold.

There is one other product shown to improve immune function, and that’s NutriFeron.  Developed by the researcher that discovered the immune signaling molecule interferon, this product supports the immune system.  I have a number of patients with recurrent infections who have noticed many fewer episodes of bronchitis and sinusitis after starting NutriFeron.  One of them jokes that I need to stop telling people about NutriFeron, that it’s bad for business!  LOL!

You don’t need to be a cancer patient to benefit from these suggestions.  Everybody needs a multivitamin, fish oil, etc.  Everybody could probably use a little extra protein, especially after a workout.  We all are surrounded by germs every day.

But for those recovering from cancer treatment, solid nutritional support can make the difference between struggling with fatigue and treatment-related side effects for months, and getting back to health quickly and easily.  I know.  My family has been there.

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