Cancer treatments are known for sucking the energy out of you. The medical community is aware of this and has studied how to give their patients some pep. The consensus is that it doesn’t need to come in immunity pills, jabs, or other medications. Lifestyle changes aren’t just words worthy of eye rolls. They literally change your life.
What goes into your body, in addition to what you do with your body, helps to fight off the ravages of cancer treatments and medications. It’s all about natural instead of chemical. It’s about strengthening your immunity. Here’s what we mean.
The food we eat has nutrients benefitting everything in the body from bones and tissue to brain and heart health. The immunity of the body is important as well. It fights off diseases attacking the body. Many foods benefit the immune system, such as:
• Citrus. Citrus fruit like grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, and lemons contain Vitamin C. When white blood cells increase, it’s because of Vitamin C. It fights infections.
Tip: Red bell peppers contain three times the Vitamin C of an orange.
• Garlic. Known for its infection-fighting properties, garlic contains sulfur compounds, one of which is allicin. This is an immunity-boosting element in garlic.
• Ginger. Inflammation is the enemy of the body because it’s painful. Ginger may decrease inflammation and chronic pain.
• Almonds. It’s handy to have a food high in “good” fats as well as Vitamin E. Both are good for immunity.
• Turmeric. The orange spice that turns food yellow and is used in curry is also an anti-inflammatory used in treating arthritis. It’s also an immunity booster.
• Greens. Our mothers and grandmothers knew what they were doing when they made us eat our greens. Turnip greens, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, and dark, leafy green lettuces all contain fiber, iron, calcium, folate, and vitamins C and K. These strengthen the immune system and fight off infection and disease.
While we sleep, our body heals itself and sets up the brain for the next day’s work. The immune system produces proteins that fight infections and the inflammation caused by stress. Lack of sleep limits the production of these proteins, which leaves us unable to fight off diseases. Adults are recommended to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night. More sleep than that gives an adult trouble falling and staying asleep.
Exercise brings oxygen into the lungs. It gets the blood pumping through the heart. Both of these travel throughout the body supporting muscles, bones, and tissues.
Immune cells stroll around the body. Exercise makes the immune cells roam faster so they encounter dangerous cells and destroy them faster. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercises, such as walking or biking, does the immune system well.
You’re fighting cancer. That’s enough to deal with without irritations like a cold or ill-prepared food making you sick. Crowded places aren’t a good idea for obvious reasons. Try these tips:
• Wash your hands several times a day. This keeps bacteria and viruses found on surfaces from entering the body. Keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes, and nose.
• Kitchens foster bacteria on countertops and cutting boards. Keep them scrupulously clean. Set the temperature of the fridge at or below 40 degrees to prevent bacteria from getting into the food.
• Wash fresh fruits and veggies, salads, and similar packaged foods before cutting or eating them. A solution of warm water and baking soda works well.
• Thoroughly wash knives and other utensils between cutting raw meats and raw veggies to avoid cross-contamination. Wash the countertop and cutting board at the same time to destroy bacteria.
• Stop smoking. Don’t use alcohol or other drugs.
Stress is like a superstorm battering us every day. There are categories of stress such as personal, professional, as well as “other.” Families, for instance, are stressful, because they have their own sources of stress. They each bring that home with them. We all have a boss or co-worker who makes life difficult for us. Additionally, gridlocked traffic makes us want to pound the steering wheel and scream.
It can, however, be managed or eliminated altogether. It’s up to us to recognize the triggers for stress. Then it’s up to us to disappear into the break room or outside to walk around in the fresh air to de-stress. Here are some ideas to help:
• Mindfulness. Take your keys out of your pocket. Choose a key and concentrate on it. Feel the cool metal of the key. Etch its shape with your finger. Notice if it’s square or round. Feel its weight in your hand.
Now put the key back in your pocket. Can you still feel its weight and coolness in your hand? Now open your eyes and breathe deeply. Is your stress gone or at least better? You just practiced mindfulness.
• Meditation. You don’t have to sit with your legs looking like a pretzel to meditate. All you have to do is focus on something like the stars, a particularly pretty tree, the clouds, grass waving in the breeze, or a house whose architecture you like.
As you focus on what you like about these things, your mind empties. The purpose of meditation is to regain control of your mind, so repeat an affirmation that stops stress at the door of your mind.
• Sing. Music fills our minds and spirits until nothing but the joy of the music exists. Keep the music in you, and stress won’t have a door through which to sneak.