After the diagnosis and completion of cancer treatment, many individuals are highly motivated to stay healthy and approach their health in a holistic manner. There are over 14.5 million cancer survivors and the number is thankfully on the rise. However, after an intense battle, cancer survivors are left with after-effects and the constant concern of recurrence. The importance of managing the health of the whole person, not just one disease shows promising health.
Common After-Effects of Conventional Cancer Treatment
Undergoing chemotherapy leaves patients with similar after-effects that can last. These include insomnia, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and chemobrain.
Insomnia is common after completion of cancer treatment and is linked to circadian rhythm and mood disturbance. However, melatonin has been proven to manage a more natural sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, melatonin combined with L-theanine generates alpha waves and induces a state of relaxation.
Fatigue after treatment is typical considering patients endure repeated physical and emotional events that active stress response mechanisms in the body. Fatigue has been associated with HPA axis dysregulation. HPA axis stands for the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis.
Peripheral Neuropathy is a tingling sensation in the limbs. Supplements to help control neuropathy are Glutamine and Vitamin E.
ChemoBrain refers to the inability to successfully multitask and involves impaired brain connections. This is due to inflammation and damage to the tissue. Lions Mane is a mushroom that contains polysaccharides that can improve brain cognition.
Natural Supplements and Lifestyle Changes
After cancer treatment, there are many all-natural supplements that have been shown to help with the after-effects as well as aid in the prevention of recurrence. As some were previously mentioned above, these supplements have been proven help with certain cancer prevention:
- Vitamin D
- Green Tea
- Fish Oils
*It is important to discuss all supplements with your health care provider before starting as supplement dosage and effectiveness varies per individual.
In addition to supplements, a diet that has helped reduced cancer and fuel the body is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is comprised of large quantities and diversity of plant-derived foods. A few staples in the Mediterranean diet include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Finally, exercise has endless studies regarding its effectiveness in cancer prevention and cancer survival rates. Exercising for 150 minutes a week, or vigorously for 15-30 minutes a day a few days a week improves insulin sensitivity as well as decreases blood glucose levels. Those who exercised before, during or post-cancer treatment had a higher survival rate.
Risk reduction strategies are always helpful to reduce the chance of recurrence. A healthy diet and exercise go much further than many realize. Finding someone to go to the gym with you or keep you accountable helps increase exercise rates and is proven to be more beneficial. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Alschuler, Lise, and Tina Kczor. “Cancer Survivorship .” Functional Medicine University. 2020, www. functionalmedicineuniversity. com/members/1049.cfm.
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