Patients can strengthen 6 important pillars of his/her life in order to better deal with cancer treatment. These are as follows:
1.Nutrition: Support the immune system and decrease inflammation in the body.Eat more antioxidant-rich foods – most fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are antioxidant rich foods.Eat fewer pro-inflammatory foods- Examples: Candy bars, cookies, chips, crackers, steaks, ground beef, sausages, salami, lunch meats, sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, Gatorade, juice etc.), and other highly processed foods.Eat more foods prepared with moist cooking methods (boiled, steamed) and fewer foods prepared using dry heat cooking methods (grilled, fried).Increase fiber to 40-45 grams/day – eat mostly unprocessed, whole plant foods
- Sleep: Recharge your batteries so you start the day at full power.Ensure 7-9 hours per night, or longer as needed.Limit or avoid screen time 90 minutes prior to sleep.Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of sleep.Increase daytime exposure to sunlight.Keep a consistent sleep/wake schedule.
- Activity:You will see benefits with ANY amount of physical activity! The more the better, but the goal is at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.Strength training (2x per week on non-consecutive days).Work movement into your daily life: Use physical transportation (walk, bike, etc.) instead of driving. If sitting for a while, take a standing break every hour, get up and go for a short walk. Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Avoidance of Risky Substance:
- Tobacco: The benefits of quitting smoking begin in as little as 1 hour after the last cigarette. The sooner a smoker quits, the faster they will reduce their risk of cancer, heart and lung disease, and other conditions related to smoking.
- Social Connectedness: Humans are a social species; we are wired to live together!The single most important predictor of happiness and longevity is having strong and positive social connections.Talk to your health care provider about local and online support groups or previous patients willing to connect (limit social media to meaningful connections).Consider joining an exercise or other activity group. Embrace your family and friends and allow them to support you. Think outside yourself – see what you can do to help someone else today.
- Stress Management:A little stress in life is good, but if we experience a lot, especially over a long period of time, then we need healthy coping mechanisms.Healthy activities that help reduce/cope with stress: Physical activity, Sleep, Exposure to natural light/time in nature, Mindfulness training, Breathing.When feeling stressed, stop, relax, observe, and respond.Breathing in for 5 seconds and then out for 5 seconds can help you maintain composure in stressful moments.Helpful apps are available (eg. Headspace, Calm, Tapping Solution, etc.)