Health officials say the flu season seems to be winding down, but the spring cold season will soon be upon us. Cold and flu season can be a particularly dangerous time for cancer patients whose immune systems are already compromised by their disease. Certain cancer treatments may temporarily challenge the immune system, making cancer sufferers even more susceptible to cold and flu germs. Taking steps to boost your immune system can help your body fight off germs and may decrease your chance of catching a cold this spring.Try these natural methods of boosting your immune system:
Sleep regulates the release of cortisol, a hormone that stimulates the immune system. Sleep isn’t always easy for cancer patients but aim for at least 7 hours a night. If sleep is a problem, talk to your Issels treatment team about possible solutions.
Rapid temperature fluctuations activate the immune system. At the end of your shower, alternate 30 seconds of very hot water with 10 seconds of cold and repeat 3 times.
Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Low vitamin D can increase your risk of catching a cold. Experts recommend taking 1,000 to 1,500 IU of vitamin D per day. Dairy products, fatty fish like salmon and sunshine are also good sources of vitamin D.
Zinc supports and enhances the immune system and can decrease the duration of colds. Oysters, baked beans and pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc.
Saline nasal sprays, used several times a day, help irrigate and cleanse sinuses of cold germs.
Cancer patients may realize “profound” benefits from massage therapy. In a new study reported on Fox News, brain cancer patients experienced significant stress relief after receiving massage treatments. As the report noted, brain cancer can affect patients’ physical and cognitive functioning. Cancer tumors’ interference with brain function can also lead to challenging secondary mental disorders. Brain cancer patients suffer a high rate of depression often caused by the stress of traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as by the progress of their disease.In the study, brain cancer patients who received massage therapy twice a week for four weeks experienced a remarkable decrease in stress levels. Patients who at the beginning of the study suffered from severe stress scored below diagnostic stress detection by the end of their 4-week treatment.
“This is more significant than I would have expected,” Dr. Keri Peterson of the American Massage Therapy Association told Fox News.
Prior to the study, the majority of participants expressed concerns common to most cancer patients, including sadness, worry, nervousness, pain, tiredness, trouble sleeping, fear, depression, eating, constipation, nausea, dry skin and tingling sensations. At the end of the 4-week treatment protocol, concern about common cancer stressors was significantly reduced, by as much as 60% for some issues.
As a group, brain cancer patients enjoyed improved feelings of emotional, physical and social well-being. Post-treatment testing revealed that benefits began to fade when massage therapy was discontinued, although patients’ stress levels remained lower than they were initially. Continued massage therapy is an option you may want to discuss with your Issels treatment specialists.
Cancer pain is not a solitary event but a fusing of mind and body. Pain caused by diagnostic tests, cancer treatments or the cancer itself travels through the body’s nerve pathways to your brain and may be felt in more than one of your senses. (Find out more about what causes cancer pain on the American Cancer Society website.)Working with your cancer treatment team, you will want to develop different strategies for anticipating and managing various types of pain. Having pain management protocols in place will facilitate early intervention which is the key to effective cancer pain management.
We all respond to pain differently and you may need to experiment to figure out which pain management techniques work best for you. Some people find relief in complementary or alternative cancer therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic or massage. Your Issels treatment specialists may also prescribe drugs or supplements to aid in pain control. Omega-3 fatty-acids and vitamin D supplements have shown some promise in treating certain types of pain.
Effective control of cancer pain generally involves multiple strategies. You may want to try some of these techniques for managing cancer pain:
Practice mindful meditation. Reacting to pain with anxiety, anger or fear can actually make it worse. In mindful meditation, you focus on controlling your thoughts and feelings rather than your reaction to pain.
Engage in physical activity. Even small amounts of daily movement can help strengthen muscles and release stress-fighting endorphins.
Learn to accept pain. Acceptance is the conscious decision to accept what you cannot change, focus on the positives and move forward with your life.
Even cancer patients who are focused on healthy eating and improving nutritional intake should partake of a bit of Valentine’s Day chocolate from last week’s festivities. A bite of chocolate doesn’t just excite our taste buds; chocolate contains potent antioxidants that work to promote good health.Researchers are discovering that chocolate has positive metabolic benefits that may outweigh its weight-boosting potential. If you choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate, which contains more sugar and fat, you tip the health- balance even further in your favor.
The health benefits of eating dark chocolate are:
Works to free your body of anti-oxidants that cause aging and a cause for cancer.
Contains theobromine which has been shown to harden tooth enamel.
High in potassium, magnesium, and copper – trace minerals your body needs.
Helps to control blood sugar.
Can work to lower your blood pressure
Increases blood flow to your brain and heart.
You can read more about the benefits of eating dark chocolate in this article at WebMD to understand more about the role this simple sweet can play to positively impact our bodies even at the metabolic level.
Cancer patients may want to consider adding dark chocolate sweets to their diet, albeit in small quantities, throughout the week. Not only will this provide for an occasional treat, but these small treats may unlock the “hidden” health benefits that dark chocolate carries. Don’t consider these small sweet treats bad for your new healthy eating plan, but that they may actually be a benefit for your special dietary needs.