When Hal Livergood came to Provision for treatment of his prostate cancer, he was impressed by the brand new facility—“like coming into a resort,” he says. His doctor and personal research told him protons were the best treatment option for his disease.
There was just one problem.
“My doctor said, ‘You need to lose weight,’” Livergood says. Otherwise, treatment would not be an option. Read More
Nobody wants cancer, but in the U.S. one in every two men and one in every three women will get it at some point in their lives.
February is National Cancer Prevention month, and although there are no guarantees—we all know those who have developed the disease through circumstances beyond their control—science has shown us that many cancer cases are preventable through practical, healthy lifestyle choices.
The Harvard School of Public Health estimates up to 75 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. could be prevented, while the American Cancer Society declares about 60 percent of American cancer cases to be preventable. Read More
Aging is a fact of life. So let’s talk about how to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible, making the most of our years. “Age is just a number.” On our Tanita scale it gives us a health age. It is very encouraging when that’s younger than our chronological age. However, it doesn’t take our blood pressure or cholesterol or stress level or sleep habits or lifestyle into account. It does, in fact, consider your weight, your percent of body fat, and your waist circumference. Now is a wonderful time to consider how your lifestyle can help improve your chronological age and improve your future. Read More
Are you eating clean? What does that mean? Does it mean you’ve washed your food or your hands? Bought organic or grass-fed? Why is it important?
Here’s the truth: Clean eating is the concept of eating whole unprocessed foods, the way nature delivers them. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It’s being mindful of food and how it’s prepared one meal at a time. Read More
Good lifestyle choices are always important. For those with a cancer diagnosis, they can be even more so.
It is critical to maintain the key activities that encourage good health throughout cancer treatment and after. Good habits such as physical activity and a healthy diet affect not only the outcome of treatment but the quality of life during and after treatment. Read More
There’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to put a spotlight on personal health, and many people find themselves turning to supplements as a magic cure for their ills.
Be careful, says Provision Health and Performance Center nutritionist Casey Coffey, who has tangled with patients’ long lists of vitamins and natural remedies. One website offers a list of “20 herbs that can help fight cancer,” while a laundry list of vitamin and mineral supplements promise to deliver good health via capsule and pill.
Coffey’s list of truly beneficial supplements is pretty short. The most important thing is to start with a clean, healthy, nutritionally-complete diet plan, she says—then use supplementation sparingly. She spoke on the subject at a recent patient talk at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.
“You can’t out-supplement a bad diet,” Coffey told attendees.
However, a few spices and supplements can truly make a difference in overall health. Coffey recommends the following:
• Garlic: A virtual storehouse of vitamins and minerals, garlic helps boost immunity, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, aid brain function and help detoxify the body
• Ginger: Shown by research to aid in digestion, relieve nausea, reduce pain and inflammation, it also contains a laundry list of vitamins and minerals.
• Hot chili peppers: Can boost metabolism, particularly for those who aren’t accustomed to a spicy diet, alleviate pain and aid in dermatologic conditions. There is also some indication they may help prevent prostate cancer. Read More
When Hal Livergood came to Provision for treatment of his prostate cancer last February, he discovered he was living just two miles from the only proton therapy center in the Southeast. He was impressed by the brand new facility—“like coming into a resort,” he says. His doctor and personal research told him protons were the best treatment option for his disease.
There was just one problem.
“Dr. Fagundes said, ‘You need to lose weight,’” Livergood says, of Provision Center for Proton Therapy’s medical director, Marcio Fagundes. Otherwise, treatment would not be an option.
At 455 pounds and faced with a life-threatening disease, he wasted no time.
He met with nutritionist Casey Coffey at Provision Health and Performance, adopted a clean, real, whole foods diet and began exercising two hours a day—cardio in his home pool spa plus a strengthening regime.
“I lost 50 pounds in just a few months,” Livergood says. By the time he was ready to start proton therapy, he had lost 90 pounds in all. His edema disappeared. He felt better.
“Between Casey and Dr. Fagundes, they’re saving my life in more ways than one,” he says.
Livergood’s case may have been extreme, but early research is showing that tackling lifestyle changes prior to treatment can help improve long-term outcomes for cancer patients.
A recent article in the Washington Post documented this “pre-habbing” phenomenon, citing a study in the journal Anesthesiology that showed patients diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer who adopted a program of exercise, nutritional counseling and relaxation four weeks prior to surgery experienced better recovery than those with eight weeks of rehabilitation following the procedure. Research findings for non-cancer-related operations indicate the same, although more study is needed to determine the broader impacts of pre-treatment lifestyle interventions.
Some research shows a positive impact of healthy lifestyle choices during cancer treatment. For example, exercise has been shown to help alleviate fatigue in breast cancer patients and relaxation exercises help improve mental health and sleep patterns for cancer patients. Other research shows improved immune response and response to cancer treatment with particularly dietary supplementation or interventions.
In spite of the lack of studies into the impact of diet on cancer treatment outcomes, Coffey says “sugar is the only fuel cancer can survive on,” so she advocates a diet in which her clients that reduces carbs and focuses on proteins and whole, unprocessed foods. She also works with patients to identify foods they enjoy and build a plan around making lifestyle change workable.
“I had lost thousands of pounds over my lifetime,” Livergood says, with diets ranging from liquid to fat free. But after learning about the chemical reactions of the food in the body, necessary balance between protein, carbohydrates and fat he’s made changes for the long-term. And he says he doesn’t even want the junk food he once ate on a regular basis.
“The goal is to control carbohydrate intake. We need a balance in nutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrate,” Coffey says.
When patients understand the way food affects their health and make changes for the right reasons, “the desire is just not there,” she says. “”You also have that thought process, is it really worth it?”
“’If it’s killing me,’ I think, ‘I don’t want to eat it,’” Livergood adds.
Support at home has also been crucial, and Livergood’s wife, Nancy Lee, has been there every step of the way—losing 18 pounds in the process herself. Coffey took her to Trader Joe’s, patient consults frequently include a grocery shopping trip, showing her products that support their new lifestyle.
“It’s one thing to sit in a room with somebody,” Coffey says. “I say, ‘I want you to start shopping like you would normally shop. What does it look like when you’re trying to implement something? We are so programmed to our own pattern of shopping and eating, and it’s eye opening for patients and their families to start looking at food in a new way.”
Now that he’s in treatment for his prostate cancer, Livergood says he is suffering through a low residue diet, a low-fiber regimen required for prostate cancer treatment that requires patients to cut out legumes and whole grains and reduce dairy consumption. The treatment and related hormone therapy have also left him feeling fatigued and limited his exercise routine.
Once he’s done, however, he plans to tackle the weight loss anew.
“I’ve got another 120 pounds at least to lose,” he says. “I’ve got to stay on the program.”
Editor note: This is the first in an occasional series of blog features that will focus on health and wellness as it relates to cancer care and healthy living.
Those little black crunchy seeds seem to be everywhere, and unlike some dietary fads, there’s good reason. They really pack a nutritional punch!
Chia seeds come from a common garden plant known also as salvia and a member of the mint family. They’re a much more familiar dietary staple in South and Central American countries, but have migrated north as an up-and-coming health food product. Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which carry out a variety of important functions such as lowering triglycerides, reducing inflammation and improving brain function. Chia seeds also aid digestion, they’re gluten- and grain-free for those with sensitivity, and they’re a good source of magnesium, important for a range of bodily functions from DNA synthesis to muscle performance.
One tablespoon has an impressive 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein plus 3 grams of that good fat and just 5 carbohydrates.
So, what to do with these tiny, crunchy gems? Just add chia. Sprinkle on your morning oatmeal, mix in a whole fruit smoothie, shake onto a salad or sandwich for lunch. Keep a bag of chia seeds in your purse or car so they’re handy when you’re eating out or on the run.
If you want to expand your options, try these easy, go-to recipes. Do you have your own favorite Chia Seed Recipe? Let us know at email@example.com and we will post it on our blog!
Sprouted Chia for Salads
Add chia seeds to water, drain the water off and leave in a jar for a couple of days. Every 12 hours or so, rinse with water and pour off. In a day or two, you’ll have chia sprouts.
Homemade Energy Gel
To make this healthy version, add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. Let sit for 10 minutes, and you’re good to go!
2 cups coconut milk or other milk
½ cup chia seeds
2-3 Tbs. cocoa powder (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. or more sweetener of choice (optional—I use a few drops of stevia extract)
Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Flavor variations: Substitute 1 cup strawberries for vanilla and cocoa or add cinnamon and nutmeg for a Chai chia pudding.