Physical Activity and Diet for Cancer Survivors

Physical activity may help cancer patients build up their physical condition, decrease their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, reduce drug interactions and side effects, and help survivors cope with depression and stress. It also restore good health, improve sleep as well as quality of life during and after treatments, and help them to stay independent as long as possible.

For sedentary survivors, and previously active ones, any movement is beneficial; even just 10 minutes of stretching exercises daily can make a difference with the way they may feel. It is very depressing for someone to hear the words: “You have cancer” but keep in mind that exercise increases self-esteem, improves mood, reduces anxiety levels, increases the ability to handle stress, and improves sleep patterns. Depression, emotional stress and lack of motivation are a normal states of ill-being when dealing with cancer and treatments. That is why a personal trainer, like Melanie, can make the difference by showing empathy, while educating and motivating cancer survivors into a light exercise routine: gentle yoga, breathing exercises, flexibility exercises, relaxation techniques, meditation and visualization.

A healthy diet is also primordial for cancer survivors to avoid developing other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. A high level of total fat, especially saturated fat, in the diet can be a significant contributor to cancer. Although, some fats are essential such as monounsaturated and omega-3, which are associated with reducing the risk of heart disease and possibly cancer (click on the link to find out how to get them in natural food).

Adequate protein intake is essential during all stages of cancer treatment, recovery, and long-term survival. The best choices to meet protein needs are foods which are low in saturated fat (e.g., fish, lean poultry, eggs, low-fat meat, non-fat and low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes). An intake of 10% of calories from protein will generally meet the protein needs of adult cancer survivors.

Carbohydrates are rich in essential nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. Food that is high in refined sugars should be avoided as it can increase your risk for certain cancers, such as breast, colorectal, or pancreatic cancer.

Alcohol intake should be completely avoided as it increases the risk of having cancer of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, and possibly colon.

To get more information about the diet you should be on and supplements you should take to complete the 100% daily values, please consult your dietician.