“So many people, when they get cancer, realize they need to change the way they’re doing things,” says Dr. Donielle Wilson, ND and Cinco Vidas expert. “In conventional medicine they don’t offer much support for that.”
When was the last time your regular doctor asked about your diet, for instance, or your stress and energy levels? And if he did ask, did he give you recommendations for foods you could eat, or supplements you could take, to help your body heal itself?
Most likely, he didn’t. He’s probably concentrating on the tumor, the cancer, and the chemotherapy. That’s why you may want to consider adding a naturopathic doctor (ND) to your healthcare team. “Our philosophy is to address the full body,” Wilson says. “We use the least invasive therapies, like nutrition, vitamins, and homeopathy, to tackle underlying issues and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.”
Dr. Wilson has helped many cancer patients, both during treatment and after remission. Her main focus: balancing blood-sugar levels. “When we’re under elevated stress from cancer, we’re constantly stimulating the adrenal glands. They produce cortisol and adrenaline in response to stress, and they also have to moderate blood-sugar levels. So when we eat foods high in carbohydrates and sugars, we’re requiring them to do more-namely, to release insulin to process the sugar and bring blood-sugar levels back to normal.” Results are often reduced energy, a depleted immune system, mood swings, fatigue, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and slow release of toxins.
Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s best to see a naturopath in your area. (Find one here.) However, you can start feeling better by implementing some simple dietary changes. “Eat every 3-4 hours,” Wilson says, “and every time you eat, have a protein.” Proteins naturally slow the body’s breakdown of sugars, which eases the load on the adrenal glands and helps naturally balance blood-sugar levels. Try a few nuts with lunch, a boiled egg, some lean meats like chicken and turkey, or vegetarian proteins. Decrease your consumption of carbohydrates, and add in some healthy fats like olive oil, flaxseed oil, and omega 3s from fish and nuts.
Of course, at Cinco Vidas, we’re especially concerned with the skin. Since cancer treatment is so hard on it, would a naturopath have any advice? “When you’re going through treatment for cancer, many of your body’s nutrients are depleted, which immediately affects the skin, so you need to replace those with a quality multi-vitamin. Avoid tablets, as they’re not as easy to digest, and go for capsules. Fish oil is also great for skin, as it moisturizes and helps prevent infections. Drink plenty of water, and if you’re having trouble eating, try healthy soups (for water and protein content), low-sugar protein shakes, and high-quality electrolyte drinks. Avoid the artificial sweeteners, and look for natural formulas.”
How can diet be so important to skin? “The skin reflects what’s going on in the digestive tract,” Wilson says. “If someone comes to me with a skin problem, unless it was caused by direct contact with something (as in radiation burns), I would be thinking, ‘How’s your digestion?’ Depending on the circumstance, I might recommend the person supplement with enzymes, to help pull nutrients from food, and with acidophilus, to balance intestinal health.” When the body is supported in digesting food and absorbing nutrients, it regains the ability to heal itself-which shows up on the skin.
Finally, Dr. Wilson recommends antioxidants-for everyone, for lots of reasons! These powerhouses are helpful for so many things, including boosting the immune system, processing toxins, supporting energy levels, and helping scars to heal. Go for dark, leafy vegetables and fruits-especially berries-and supplement with vitamin C. Other supplements, like beta carotene, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium may also be helpful, but check with your doctor first.
Have you received help from a naturopath? Please share your experiences.
Note: To learn more about Dr. Wilson and her work, go to www.doctordoni.com.
Picture courtesy of Snap Village.