Healing Your Digestive System
Optimum nutrition is vital for people undergoing cancer treatment. But while its important, often the side-effects of treatment make food unappealing and also difficult to digest. Therefore eating becomes a struggle for many. In turn, post cancer treatment, many people struggle with ongoing health concerns, including fatigue, cachexia and digestive issues.
It’s important to realise that optimising a person’s health through diet, can bring around a better life overall.
When looking at digestion, it is also important to evaluate the entire process, which includes absorption and assimilation of nutrients. The elimination of waste products also needs to be addressed, in order to really heal.
When nutrients are not assimilated, it leads to deficiencies and other chronic health issues. Unfortunately, this is a dilemma many people undergoing chemotherapy find themselves in. And this is a time when they should be receiving more nutrients than ever, in order to reduce the side effects and the accumulation of toxins from chemotherapy.
During treatment, loss of appetite is common and when the body is malnourished, weight loss then occurs and cachexia follows.
During consultations, I often check the person’s tongue, this is a reliable indicator of a person’s overall health. A tongue that is white or yellow indicates poor digestion and a flabby tongue with halitosis signals what is known in Chinese Medicine, as a stagnant liver.
When it comes to diet the focus must not be on the cancer, but in optimising the individuals healing process in a holistic way. There is no one diet that suits everyone, and each individual’s needs are to be considered every step of the way.
First and foremost, taking care of digestion and also the quality of the food consumed is the most important.
The healing power of fresh food is more than the sum of all chemical nutrients and one’s diet should be the source of strength to the body and gift to the senses.
Good digestion begins in the mouth.
Foods should be chewed well and eaten slowly. When food is blended with saliva and swallowed, it enters the stomach along with gastric juices. The food then gets broken down and assimilated through the lining of the gut wall. Chewing also stimulates the glands, located behind the ears in the jaw. These glands then stimulate the Thymus grand to produce what is known as T cells, which are critical for the immune system. This is needed to keep us healthy as foreign substances enter the bloodstream.
The Stomach chops, dices and liquefies
Food, once it has reached the stomach may be there from 2-4 hours. Chemicals, known as enzymes, in the stomach break down carbohydrates, and the process of protein digestion begins here.
The Absorption Stage
The small intestine has covered with many finger-like folds, which allows the nutrients to pass into the bloodstream while blocking the absorption of foreign substances. Stress and medications can irritate the intestinal wall, and it can lose the ability to distinguish between nutrients and foreign substances.
Potassium, water, salt, vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids are absorbed in the colon. A good indicator of bowel health is transit time. When your system is working well, transit time should average between 12-24 hours. But if we don’t get enough fibre, take enough magnesium or drink enough water, this time can slow down to between 48-96 hours.
Everything we put into our body has an effect upon us. Good nutrition is fundamental through cancer treatment and beyond. The vitamins and minerals are the fuel the body needs to heal itself.
A personalised diet plan by a qualified nutritionist is a great benefit, and can give your body every advantage during treatment.