Are you or a loved one fighting cancer? Dr Amanda Reimann, Naturopath at ATUNE, has been helping support many people through the journey of cancer. 

If you or a loved one has had a recent diagnosis of cancer, (oncology pages) you might be searching for information on how to optimise your health during this time. In particular, if you are about to commence chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it is critical to support your immune system, reduce inflammation and improve the nutritional status of your body. This helps reduce some of the common side effects of your treatment, such as:

  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Taste changes.

Here are the top 10 tips we recommend to clients as they travel through chemo or radiation therapy on their journey with cancer:

  1. Eat small, frequent meals (every 1-2 hours), rather than larger meals at longer intervals. Take small bites and thoroughly chew each mouthful to assist compromised digestion.
  2. EXERCISE greatly improves your response to treatment, improving fatigue and well-being. It is important to start slow, but aim to do 70 - 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.
  3. Suck on ice cubes between mouthfuls if taste is distorted. This helps clean the palate and soothe an irritated throat.
  4. Drink regular fluids, preferably filtered water, herbal teas (especially green tea, ginger, peppermint) and freshly squeezed vegetable juices. Aim to achieve 2-3 litres per day. Try to sip 150ml every hour.
  5. Maintain protein intake, ideally from high quality sources, such as grass-fed, organic, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds. The ideal amount of protein to consume per day is 1.2 – 1.5g/kg body weight. If there is difficulty eating enough protein-rich foods, supplement with a protein drink. Regular protein consumption has been shown to decrease nausea.
  6. Add spices such as ginger, galangal and turmeric to your cooking, as these are anti-inflammatory. Anise, clove, cinnamon, oregano, garlic, black pepper and rosemary all contain natural compounds that help to fight cancer.
  7. Eat more soups, stews and other “watery foods” (fruit, porridge), as these are easier to digest. Traditional bone broth is particularly healing to the digestive tract.
  8. Eat high fibre foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes to support gastrointestinal function by providing bulking agents for regular bowel motions and prebiotic activity.
  9. Enjoy whole, unprocessed, seasonal foods, organic where possible. These foods provide the highest levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals (natural anti-cancer compounds). Also include foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as small, wild caught fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and sea vegetables to reduce inflammation.
  10. Include medicinal mushrooms, fermented foods, sea vegetables and plenty of cruciferous vegetables in your diet as these support the immune system and assist with detoxification. Chlorophyll-rich foods, such as wheat and barley-grass juice, spirulina and chlorella also alkalise the body. A more alkaline pH is crucial against cancer, because the immediate environment surrounding a tumour is acidic and this is conducive to further proliferation and immune evasion.

Find out more about Medical herbalism from Dr Amanda Reimann, ATUNE Health Centres.