April is National Minority Health Month and the Office of Minority Health is launching a month-long initiative to raise awareness of health disparities for minorities and the impact of the national health care law on helping minimize those disparities.
This year’s theme, Advance Health Equity Now: Uniting Our Communities to Bring Health Care Coverage to All, sheds light on the issues that keep many minorities from accessing quality healthcare. This is especially true for many Latinos who experience language and culture barriers and don’t receive necessary treatment for serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer screening and prevention.
In a recent article by Saludify, an online magazine specifically targeting Latino health issues, various statistics presented by the Institute for Health Promotion Research illustrate a higher risk for developing stomach, cervical, liver and gallbladder cancer than their non-white counterparts. This is further exacerbated by a lack of resources that are specially designed to meet the needs of Latinos, particularly translation services and cultural awareness.
Saludify does a great job of providing examples of how some existing programs are helping educate Latinos at risk for cancer about the importance of screening, exercise and good nutrition for prevention.
I invited David Haas, a writer for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA) to share the important of holistic nutrition for those battling cancer. He uncovers the link between diet and cancer in order to help achieve a better understanding of how healthy eating can be a beneficial aid to traditional cancer treatment. I am truly grateful to have David write for Food4ThoughtNYC on such an important issue. Thanks again!
Please welcome David Haas!
Managing Cancer Through Holistic Nutrition
Volumes have been written about the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and management. Numerous studies have reported the impact of good and bad nutrition on cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), a third of the most common cancers can be prevented with diet and lifestyle changes. Even suffers of terminal cancers like mesothelioma can benefit from holistic nutrition.
The first step to nutritional soundness is understanding the connection between cancer and the diet. No single food or nutrient can cure, treat or prevent cancer. However, a healthy diet that is filled with variety can lower the risk of some types of cancer. Holistic nutrition strengthens the body and relaxes the mind in preparation for harsh, cancer-fighting medical treatments.
A Whole Foods Diet
In various studies, individual vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and botanicals have shown anti-cancer effects. However, the synergy of these nutrients working together in a diet of natural foods provides the best cancer protection available. It also helps people cope with their treatment side effects.
What does an effective, whole foods cancer diet look like? The AICR recommends filling at least two-thirds of a plate with fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are low-calorie foods that supply essential nutrients and help with weight maintenance. Beans and whole grains are rich in fiber, which also maintains weight and lowers disease risks.
Some cancer treatments make it hard to eat this naturally healthy diet. Chemotherapy, for example, causes several side effects that hinder healthy eating: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, swallowing problems and loss of appetite. Nutritional supplements, a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy, aim to address the nutritional needs of these patients.
Some cancer diets are deliberately unbalanced to help people gain weight, recover their appetite and cope with the side effects. Multivitamins, botanicals and other dietary supplements replenish important nutrients that strengthen the body and relax the mind. A holistic approach to cancer management augments conventional cancer treatment, improves healing and speeds recovery.
Palliative Nutrition Care
A holistic approach to cancer management is also important for end-stage cancer and palliative care. Holistic support treats physical symptoms like pain, but it also deals with the social, emotional and spiritual issues of cancer.
Artificial nutrition and hydration methods often prevent dying patients from experiencing a peaceful death. For those with mesothelioma and other terminal cancers, nutrition support focuses on providing comfort, relieving pain and preserving quality of life.
You can find more of David’s work through the following links and be sure to read through the blog at MCA for more stories on living with cancer: a truly amazing site!