Hearing you have a cancer diagnosis can be traumatising for both yourself as well as your family, so often it can feel like you are out of control of the situation. Although you are allocated a team of cancer and oncology experts, one key element of your health overlooked in oncology care is the role of nutrition.
Good nutrition is vital for cancer patients, the general advice is to “eat a healthy, balanced diet” - but do you know what that means for you?
As well as the burden of the cancer itself, your body also has to endure the effects of the oncology treatment. The objective of chemotherapy or radiotherapy is to destroy the rapidly dividing cancer cells. But normal cells in areas including the mouth and digestive tract, are also often affected, leading to poor nutrient absorption and the unintended side effects of malnutrition and essential vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Cancer cachexia is characterised by unintended weight loss, together with muscle wasting and fatigue. As cachexia can lead to poor outcomes from cancer treatment, it becomes even more imperative that you seek professional nutritional support that focuses on food quality by maximising nutrient dense foods.
Personalised nutrition acknowledges that there is 'no one-size fits-all approach to diet', the same food can affect two people differently. Whats more, cancer symptoms and side effects vary between person and treatment, and can include loss of appetite, changes in taste, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, fatigue, constipation or diarrhoea, chemo brain, anxieties and depression
Professional nutrition support can provide individuals with cancer, the reassurance they are making the best dietary choices, based on the latest scientific research.
Commonly accepted medical wisdom is that cancer is caused through genetic mutations, and that these mutations are out of an individuals control. However strong evidence is emerging that individuals with metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes are at increased risk of cancer.
As far back as the 1920's Otto Warburg observed that most cancer cells predominantly obtain their energy through glycolysis, meaning they ferment glucose, creating lactic acid and leading the acidic cancer environment. Dr. Thomas Seyfried from Yale University and Boston College rediscovered Warburg's original work and in 2012 published his theory that most cancers, in fact, have a metabolic origin.
The ketogenic diet has been used to manage children with epilepsy for a number of years, it requires considerable reduction in dietary carbohydrates and protein, with a significant increase in healthy fats. The application of the ketogenic diet in cancer aims to 'starve' the cancer cells, healthy cells can use fat as an energy source, but cancer cells cannot, leaving them unable to obtain the energy they need to survive and grow.
The promising news is that adopting a ketogenic diet, is in most instances, completely complementary to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgical interventions.
That being said, the ketogenic diet may not be for everyone, it can be difficult to implement and the restrictive nature of the diet can lead to increased stress - the last thing needed during cancer treatment. Furthermore safety must always be the number one priority, by using personalised nutrition support we can ensure any new dietary regime would work with a person's individual lifestyle and their medical treatment plan.
"Using a personalised nutrition approach, means acknowledging that each person and their cancer is unique. Based on the most up-to-date research available, l aim to provide advice that best suits each individual person I work with."