As it is the beginning of a New Year I have decided that I would like to put a series of blogs together that I will call ‘Back to Basics’. This is to look at what makes up a healthy balanced diet and also to look at what changes we could make that would be of benefit to our health, particularly if you have been diagnosed with cancer. All the information in these blogs over the next few weeks is based on scientific evidence as a result of research.
It has been shown and seems very clear, that if you can make changes to improve the way that you eat it should have a huge positive impact on how well you cope with the treatment for cancer. Many people seem to suffer fewer side effects as a result of the treatment that they receive and also seem to recover more quickly. As you can imagine research into nutrition and cancer is ongoing and I make it my business and responsibility to try and keep up to date with what is happening so that I can give you the best advice that I can.
Before I launch into the back to basics blogs I want to ‘set the scene’, and share with you
my very simple basic philosophy of nutrition and cancer
As you know we are made up of billions and billions of cells, these cells make up our organs and our tissues. The way we feel and perform is very much determined by the way these tissues and organs function. What we eat has a huge influence on this. If we eat nourishing food then the cells, organs and tissues will be strong, have vitality and work for our benefit. If however we eat foods that are poor nutritionally then the cells, organs and tissues will not receive the fuel or nourishment that they need to be able to work to their full potential. We could liken this to putting the wrong petrol in a car. The car will not perform well and may even let us down.
Each cell has a DNA which I call the ‘brain of the cell’. The DNA tells the cell how to perform i.e. whether it is a skin cell or an immune cell, or liver cell etc. When someone has cancer the DNA of the cancer cell is damaged and so the cell does not perform properly but for every cancer cell that there might be we will have billions of cells that are functioning normally. This is where good nutrition comes in because if we can keep these normal cells working to their full potential this can only support us and help us in the short term and long term.
It doesn't really matter where you are in the cancer process because it is never too late to make positive changes to the way that you eat to strengthen these normal cells.
It is interesting to note that the way our cells function has not changed since the Stone Age. They have not changed over time to accommodate the food industry. The more natural and whole the food is the more the cells like it. So to choose food that is more natural and less processed is a good start.
So on to the back to basics. I would like to think that those of you who read the blogs over the next few weeks would be inclined to print them off so that you have a package of information that you can refer to quickly and easily to help you formulate a healthy diet.
The second blog that I wrote, way back when (nearly 2 years ago!!!! ), outlines the basic building blocks that make up a healthy diet. I looked at protein foods, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and why each of these food groups is essential for us and how each of them bring benefits. So you may like to click on the link and use this blog as a springboard.
I now want to look at some of the foods in these groups in more detail, when I have done that I will look at practical ways in which these can make up meals, making the most of the freezer and store cupboard. We really do not need to be a Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver. In fact the less the time to prepare and cook the food the better. So simple quick and easy is the way.
Making change manageable
Whenever you make changes it is best to do it slowly taking your time to establish each change before moving on to another. We do not have to do it all over night and also remember that we do live in the real world and although diet is so important we have to get it into perspective. Mind you once good habits are established it becomes second nature and the energy that you need to initially establish these changes can be used for other things. Look at is an investment. I always think about when I buy a new kitchen gadget. To start with I read the instructions carefully to get it working and after a while I can do it mindlessly while thinking about something else. This is the same as learning good eating habits. Follow the instructions carefully to start with then hopefully it will become second nature.
When I talk about change it is also important to remember only to make changes that you can accommodate easily and feel comfortable with. If things become too difficult or too much of a challenge this can create stress which is something that we need to try and minimise. It is worth remembering that even a minor change for the better can have a huge impact on our health.
My very last word before I sign off- It is not a case ‘must’ or ‘must not’ but ‘try’ and ‘try not to’.
Remember The best you can do is good enough!
Next week we will look at step 2: fats in the diet
See also Caroline's second ever blog - what makes up healthy diet ( April 2012)
Blog originally written by Caroline Jan 2014