Your body just kicked up quite a fight and now it needs some nutrients and R&R. You need to restore its supplies of B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, molybdenum, glutathione, healthy fats, protein...I could go on all day. But let's go over simple and applicable steps to help heal your damaged cells and optimize organ function.
How do we get you on the right track? 1) Sleep. This is a time when DNA damage from what occurred during the day is cleared out. Blood supply to the muscles is increased and tissues grow and repair, memories are solidified, and your immune system releases cytokines to help fight infections and boost your immunity for the following day.
Establish a regular sleep schedule, which means you should go to bed and get up at the same time everyday. Keep your bedroom dark while you sleep and try to keep light levels low in the evening to stimulate melatonin (your sleep hormone) production. Avoid light from electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Consider blue light blockers for your phone, tablets, and computers (many are free! A quick google search with give you a few options). Establish a bed time routine that may include a tea time ritual, stretching, deep breathing, and/or a gratitude journal. Great teas for sleep include lemon balm, passion flower, lavender, and chamomile. Just don't drink too much and make yourself have to pee all night!
Sleep is a complicated system and it often comes down to a highly individualized plan of action for those unable to sleep.
2) Exercise to encourage blood flow. Blood flow will move waste products around for easier elimination from the body so that your systems don't get bogged up. In Nova Scotia, there is a program called ACCESS4Wellness designed to help anyone who has a diagnosis of cancer become active. It is run through Dalhousie University and they provide free personal training that is tailored to your needs and limitations. You can find them on Facebook or contact me for more info on how to reach them.
3) Optimize organs of detoxification. Have a daily bowel movement to eliminate waste products and inhibit reabsorption, drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys, stretch and move daily for blood and lymphatic flow, exercise to the point where you're out of breath to improve lung function, meditate and take deep breaths to increase oxygen flow, and sweat to eliminate waste through your pores.
4) Stress relief. I have a whole blog post on stress, the effects of cortisol and adrenaline on the body, and how to mediate stress, but a few things it comes down to are a good source of protein in the mornings (throw out that dang cereal), using your support systems (including counseling), saying "No" more often, and finding what sparks you and what your purpose is.
You can also try some herbs (Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil, to name a few), a gratitude journal to change your thought patterns into a more negative light (every day write 2 or more things you were grateful for), and see the beauty in the small things as you walk down the street or go about your day and describe what makes them beautiful in your mind.
5) Restore nutrients. B vitamins are involved in the majority of physiological reactions that occur from medication processing in your body to energy production for every cell that you have. Because of this, they rapidly get scooped up from the diet and depleted when undergoing treatment. They are found in vegetables of all kinds, especially dark leafy greens. They are also found in nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, and lentils. Magnesium is another mineral that is often depleted, partly because it is found in reduced quantities in the fruits and vegetables it typically resides due to poor soil quality. That being said, foods with high magnesium content include peppers, beans, bananas, nuts, and seeds.
A general diet overview that I give most of my patients includes the following:
Protein with every meal (aim for at least 20g for the average person with healthy kidneys)
2 or more types of vegetables with lunch and dinner (and breakfast if you can) that covers 1/2 plate always covered in vegetables
a few servings of healthy fat daily (1 serving = 1/4 cup nuts/seeds [limit/avoid peanuts and cashews], 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 avocado). Drown your veggies in olive oil and use butter (definitely not margarine)
0-2 servings of carbohydrates daily (1 serving = 1/4 cup uncooked rice, 1/2 cup cooked pasta, 1/2 large white potato, 1 slice bread)
At my clinic I often provide Nutrient Intravenous (IV) therapy to bypass the gastrointestinal system and deliver nutrients directly into the blood for distribution to the cells where they are needed. Most patients receive a mix of magnesium, calcium, all the B vitamins, vitamin C, a multi-mineral complex (containing zinc, copper, manganese, chromium, and selenium), carnitine, and taurine. Often I add glutathione (master antioxidant for your body) and amino acids for increased tissue repair and restoration. Each bag is tailored to the person's needs.
If you are experiencing chemo brain, brain fog, or fatigue, it's a sign that your body is needing something. Come on in for a full head-to-toe assessment, and we'll start to fill in the missing pieces.