Our body is like a garden: if the soil is well tended,
plants flourish, weeds wither and storms are conquered
INTEGRATIVE ONCOLOGY is a patient-centred, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilises mind and body practices, natural products and lifestyle modifications alongside conventional cancer treatments to optimise health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum, and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before, during, and beyond cancer treatment.
Most of us intuitively understand that our health has roots in the way we live, including everything we experience and are exposed to – the type and quality of our food, water, air, environment, levels of happiness or distress, the quality of thoughts, emotions, community and spiritual connection, and more.
Scientific evidence clearly supports the notion that all these factors can either help create the conditions for health and wellbeing, or set the scene for dysfunction and disease to take hold.
It make sense then to recognise that, when facing a challenging health issue such as cancer, going back to the ‘soil’ (our ‘body terrain’ as it is called) and learning how to nourish and strengthen it can have a great impact on our ability not only to withstand the illness and reduce the risk of recurrence, but also on mitigating the side effects of difficult treatments that may be used in the medical settings.
Nutritional and lifestyle changes applied within the framework of Functional and Lifestyle Medicine aim at creating conditions in the body that make it inhospitable to disease, by removing the possible contributing imbalances and by allowing the innate ability of the body to heal itself.
Supporting the body and mind through cancer is impactful at any stage:
Prevention: this is when diet and lifestyle changes are most powerful in reducing the risk of disease
Diagnosis: alongside conventional treatment or not, to help strengthen the body, optimise treatment outcomes, and mitigate side effects
Post-treatment: when often time patients are left to deal with the short- and long-term physical and psychological consequences of a truly transformative life event; this is when diet and lifestyle can help rebuild and restore health, as well as reduce the risk of recurrence.
The environment our bodies are exposed to through our diet, lifestyle, thoughts and emotions, filters down and becomes the environment that surrounds our cells (cellular microenvironment or body terrain). The microenvironment guides the physiology and fate of our cells. When all is well within the body terrain, our cells are healthy and they behave in a normal appropriate manner. But, if the health of our microenvironment deteriorates, then cells can no longer function in an optimal way, and a ‘tumour microenvironment’ emerges that drives the genetic changes that allow cancer to form and develop.
This material has been reproduced from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective. Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018. Available at dietandcancerreport.org.
Whilst conventional cancer treatment is focused on removing the tumour (the symptom) to reduce its impact on your health, looking after the body terrain aims at restoring health at the cellular level, by addressing some of the fundamental aspects that influence the body microenvironment, and these include:
Reducing inflammation (a driver of tumorigenesis)
Supporting the function of the immune system (our first and foremost line of defence)
Nutrient availability (for optimal function)
Elimination of harmful toxins
Regulation of blood sugar levels (many cancer cells type can only use sugar to survive)
Supporting the health and diversity of the microbiome (our friendly bacteria)
Optimising mitochondria health (the cellular organelle in charge of energy production)
Regulating hormone levels and metabolism (e.g. oestrogen, cortisol, melatonin, insulin and IGF-1 are some of the key hormones)
Addressing genetic predisposition (genetic variants that can increase individual susceptibility)
Supporting the circadian (or day-night) rhythm
Managing stress (physical and mental)
Supporting emotional health
If you are reading this because you are facing a health challenge and you are looking for natural, effective but non-invasive ways to support your body and mind in overcoming the problem, I am here to tell you that, indeed, YOU have the power to shape your health and happiness. Your lifestyle choices and your mind-set are very powerful tools that you can use every day to transform your health, your environment and, ultimately, your life.
If you are committed and ready to maximise your healing potential, I’d be delighted to help you in this process, where we work together step-by-step to identify root causes and design powerful nutritional and lifestyle changes that are specific to your situation, your needs and your life, so that you can easily find yourself healthier, happier, more energetic and more able to flourish, whatever the circumstances.
Find out more about Personalised Nutrition and Lifestyle Consultations:
BANT-Registered Practitioner with enhanced training to work with clients with suspected cancer diagnosis or diagnosis of cancer. In addition to completing Registered Nutritional Therapy Practitioner qualification, I have gained BANT recognised enhanced skills through post-graduation training and clinical practice to support clients with cancer. BANT Practitioners use science-based nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to ensure safe practise and are registered on the PSA Accredited register.