Nutrition is Crucial During Cancer Treatment!

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Interviewer:  When it comes to traditional cancer treatments, the chemo and radiation, why does it seem like nutrition is sort of an afterthought when it comes to those treatments?  I mean, I have known people, and I'm sure you can say the same, that the food that they eat in the hospital while they're receiving these treatments, the food that they eat at home and not getting the instructions by the physicians to not eat the pizza and things like that.  Why does that seem to be still a little bit of an afterthought.

Helayne:  I think actually that there's a couple of parallel universes that we live in.  And one of them is the allopathic oncology universe and the training that goes into being an oncologist is quite substantial and it's mostly focused on the various forms of chemotherapy that are available for different types of cancer.  So it's a pharmaceutically [sp] based training.  There is no nutritional training that oncologists get at all.  In fact, there's virtually no training that any family physician gets.  I think it's maybe about four hours in their entire medical training career.  So it's just not part of their mindset.  It's not part of what they learned in school.  And it's not something that obviously it's not something that they would reach for in their knowledge base.  In our parallel universe, the one I reside in, we're taught that everything, as I mentioned earlier, everything that you put in your mouth becomes a part of who you are physically.  Maybe virtually as well, I'm not sure, but certainly physically.  So we have to pay exquisite attention to what we put in our mouths.  But it's just not part of the way the other universe thinks.

Interviewer:  So put those two together and based on what you said, how important is diet when your body is going through those treatments?  Because, let's face it, a lot of people do the chemo and radiation treatments.  How important is it to get that proper diet instruction...

Helayne:  Oh, during chemo.

Interviewer:  ...during those treatments?

Helayne:  During chemo.  Well, that is very, very important.  It's also very challenging because during chemotherapy your taste buds can change.  All the fast growing cells in your body are killed and some of the fastest growing cells in your body line your esophagus and your intestinal tract.  So it can be very, very uncomfortable to eat.  So what we really like to stress during that time are very, very nutrient rich easy to digest foods like bone broth, like high mineral broths.  You need to put back what's being taken out.  Chemotherapy is a very depleting treatment.  It's depleting your immune system.  It's depleting your bone marrow.  It's depleting your energy.  It'd depleting you in so many ways.  So in that time, in that time period, what we want to do is try and replenish some of the vitality through the use of food.  And also mitigate some side effects through uses of things like ginger which is a nice anti-nausea spice.  Curcumin is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.  Conventional allopathic treatments create large amounts of inflammation.  So if we can counteract that with anti-inflammatory fatty fish, for example.  Walnuts are wonderful.  Omega 3 fatty acids.  Purslane even.  Some greens have anti-inflammatory properties to them.  So we're trying to counteract the negative effects of the chemotherapy.  We're trying to soothe the body and we're trying to restore some vitality back.  So putting dead denatured and processed food in us at that time is about the worst thing we can do because we're creating additional damage when there's already a lot of collateral damage being done.

Many people choose 'conventional' cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. But it seems the importance of diet during those treatments is often overlooked. Here, Dr. Helayne Waldman discusses the importance of diet and how to get proper nutrition when those treatments make it difficult.

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