Diet and Exercise, and Lung Cancer
A healthy diet and regular exercise are important for everyone. If you have lung cancer keeping your body as healthy as possible gives you a fighting chance at being able to cope with the illness.
Someone who is overweight, lives on junk food and smokes, could be adding obesity and heart problems to their life threatening disease. But an otherwise fit, average weight person who eats plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and doesn’t smoke will be far less likely to be adding extra health problems to their lung cancer.
Health Tips for Lung Cancer Sufferers
Lung cancer can make you very breathless and the general advice is to rest as much as possible to prevent over exertion and exacerbation of the symptoms. So a five mile hike or 20 length swim is usually out of the question! Even a short walk to the corner shop could turn into a major test of endurance.
But it’s important to keep the joints moving to prevent them seizing up. A physiotherapist can recommend gentle exercises which can be done sitting down. These may include slowly rotating the ankles or lifting the legs slightly – just to keep the blood flowing. The same can be done with the wrists, arms and shoulders. This type of exercise can be done while undergoing treatment such as chemo or radiation because it’s so gentle and you won’t find it a strain at a time when you may be feeling tired and generally sick. The important thing is to take it very slowly and gently so as not to make the breathlessness worse.
Eating a healthy diet is very important, although for people with lung cancer it can be difficult because the type of treatment sometimes causes loss of appetite and sickness. Ideally you should aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day – in sufficient quantities these should provide all the fiber, vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
If breathlessness is making you inactive it’s a good idea to take on board energy giving carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereals or brown rice and pasta. Milk and dairy foods are a good source of calcium while proteins such as meat, fish and nuts are essential in helping the body heal and repair itself.
There are copious “miracle” diets out there that advise cancer suffers not to eat meat or to only eat fish or to take high doses of vitamins. These diets are very attractive to people who hope that there is something that will cure them of their illness. However the evidence is really only anecdotal and there is scant scientific proof that specific diets can cure a disease or increase the chances of survival. Some can even be harmful because they encourage weight loss.
At the end of the day most doctors recommend a well balanced diet. If there is an alternative diet that interests you it’s worth checking first with your doctor that it won’t actually do you more harm than good.