Friday, 22 September 2017

Top 10 Tips for Abundant Energy!

Today's post is from Sophie at Igennus, who gives us her top 10 tips for getting back that energy we all remember from our youth.

At this time of year, we may want nothing more than to feel healthy, vibrant and full of beans. Sadly, the reality, for many of us, is a bit more sluggish than we’d like, with that abundant energy we remember from our youth seemingly gone forever.

This needn’t be the case!

A few simple changes can make a tremendous difference to our energy levels and sense of wellbeing. Once you start feeling better you’ll be able to do more, move more and enjoy more and so you’ll feel even better - a huge, positive snowball effect. 

Here are my top 10 tips on how to regain vibrant energy and feel like your younger self again.

1. Eat a rainbow foods diet
Too often we look for a quick pick me up to overcome slumps and dips in energy, but this can be extremely detrimental as the quick burst of energy is short-lived and we soon feel that slump again. Eating a rainbow of fresh, seasonal and organic veggies, with bright berries and citrus fruits is a sure-fire way to boost energy levels and help support those very biological processes that turn our foods into energy. By providing lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’ll be turbo-charging your cells and supporting natural cleansing processes.


2. Indulge in a green blitzed boost
Sometimes life gets in the way of our healthiest intentions. Green smoothies and juices are a super addition to the day to top up on nutrients and provide you with a fresh energy injection. Smoothies rather than juices are better when possible and make sure the ingredients are predominantly vegetables, not fruit. ‘Greens in a bottle’ are now widely available and you can even buy green powders in sachets to add to water if you need a super-portable option. Try making your own by blending up any/all of the following: any green vegetables (as much as you like, but a minimum of 1-2 fistfuls) plus apple, water, ginger, lemon/lime juice, avocado. Add herbs such as mint and parsley to give it some delicious flavour and an extra cleansing freshness.

3. Have your caffeine with protein or fat and never on an empty stomach
When we drink coffee, or tea, the caffeine sends out a stress signal readying us for action, which is why we feel awake and alert after drinking it. In response to these signals we liberate our energy stores in the form of glucose and so our blood sugar levels rise. Consuming caffeine on an empty stomach, or with even more carbohydrates such as pastries, toast and most cereal, causes a fast drop in blood sugar levels after the initial rise, leaving you feeling tired and hungry again. Cue more coffee and pastries, ad nauseum! Protein helps to prevent the release of caffeine and dampen the blood sugar effects so you feel awake and alert for longer.

4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration is too often a factor in low energy and really should never be. Keep a glass of water next to the bed and drink as much as you want first thing upon rising, and certainly before your first cup of coffee or tea. Try to drink lots of different (mainly water-based) fluids throughout the day, and always have a glass of water if you start to feel tired and sluggish before you reach for the caffeine
and snacks.

Whilst thirst is generally a good indicator of our fluid needs, when we are busy, stressed and drinking lots of caffeine we may not realise we are thirsty. Try to track what goes in and comes out, and note its colour - light straw with little smell is perfect! If you find you need the loo all the time, try reducing your intake just a little as you are likely drinking too much. Also try adding lemon/lime juice and a pinch of sea salt to water to help your body to process the fluid and not just pass it straight out. Herbal teas and dilute fruit juice are also helpful to increase fluid intake throughout the day.

5. Look after your digestive health 
If you aren’t digesting the food you eat, you won’t be getting the nutrients you need to support all of your body’s energy-producing pathways. If you have symptoms that resemble IBS, have recently been on antibiotics, medication or travelled abroad and now suffer with stomach issues or low energy, you are likely not digesting fully and may even have some gut issues causing added stress on your system.  Investing in a good probiotic, eating a range of fibres from plants and whole grains such as oats and quinoa, eliminating foods that you know make you feel unwell or trigger symptoms and reading this article will go a long way to help you keep your digestive health in tip top shape.

6. Reduce stress
High stress levels are a major factor contributing to our modern energy issues, but stress comes in all shapes and sizes. The best way to help your body deal with stress is to take time out, away from all sources of stimulation – including artificial light and technology. This means truly getting away from it all, getting out to enjoy nature, no props, no technology. Spend as much time as possible outside and literally watch the world go by, listen to the birds or meditate if you can. Taking some time to relax significantly contributes to wellbeing, reduces stress and helps to boost energy. Daily walks, weekends spent in the garden or further afield all add up to making us feel calm and happy. When possible make sure you spend some of this time in direct sunlight as we literally draw energy from the sun.

7. Get the blood and body moving
Any form of movement will help to keep your blood circulating, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells. A brisk or gentle stroll, simple stretching, even deep breathing or whatever form of movement you can manage will help keep vital nutrients pumping around the body whilst helping to carry potential toxins away. Try to stand as often as possible and walk at every opportunity. For those who are less mobile, try to get someone to help with movement; even just raising your arms and legs, with support, can be enough to help circulation and freshen the blood supply. A massage or applying cold water to the skin can also boost circulation and energy in the same way.

8. Keep blood sugars stable
As with caffeine intake, the foods we choose when we are tired can worsen the situation as we tend to crave foods that boost energy quickly, like cakes, sweets and carbohydrate-dense meals such as pizza, pasta and potatoes. Whilst we feel better in the short term, our bodies digest and absorb carbohydrates quickly, meaning the boost is short-lived and we soon feel tired and crave another quick energy snack. This can lead to dramatic blood sugar peaks and troughs and make us more susceptible to over eating, obesity, fatigue and even mental health issues. To help stabilise blood sugars, reduce cravings and feel happy, bright and refreshed throughout the day, make sure to consume lots of healthy proteins and fats from a range of plant and animal sources that make you feel good (and avoid any you know don’t!) e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, coconut, eggs, full fat dairy and grass fed/wild meat and fish.

9. Supplement for added support
No matter how saintly your diet might be there are certain nutrients, vital for energy production, that are lacking in our modern diets. If you are stressed, unwell, take medications or struggle with eating and digesting foods, then it is more than likely you are not getting the high levels of nutrients your body needs. Certain nutrients are extremely important for energy production; these include fatty acids such as EPA, DHA and GLA, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium, B vitamins – especially B12 - and ubiquinol. Products such as those made by Igennus and other good clinical nutrition companies are best to try as they will contain the best, most biologically active forms of the nutrients, at doses and delivery systems known to be most beneficial to your health. If you are really concerned about your diet or are quite unwell then it might be worth seeking advice from a qualified nutrition specialist who can make sure you are eating according to your unique needs. Here is a list of the great people we work with.

10. SLEEP!
Perhaps the most important of all - when we don’t sleep well we feel awful and everything becomes a struggle. There are all sorts of reasons why you might not be sleeping well and if this is a severe or ongoing problem please seek help from a complementary health practitioner. For many of us, however, a few changes to our pre-bedtime habits might just be enough to help promote a restful night’s sleep. So, an hour before bed turn off all phones, computers, tablets, TVs and shiny screens, dim the lights and start getting ready for bed. Get into bed and write up your day into a journal, try to focus on reporting, not analysing, but do make sure to write down any thoughts, feelings, ideas or to do lists that you want to remember. Choose something engaging but not stressful to read, or listen to the radio or an audio book for twenty minutes once you get into bed to calm the mind and switch off from the day whilst drinking a cup of relaxing herbal tea such as Pukka’s night-time tea or camomile and lavender.  If you feel achy at night try rubbing lavender or magnesium oil into the skin to relax and soothe. If you still feel you need a little more help with sleep, take a good vitamin B6 (as P5P), zinc and magnesium supplement to help promote relaxation and calming, restful brain chemical production.

If you would like to know more about any of the above, please feel free to call Nina, Sophie or Kyla, all of whom will be very happy to answer your questions.

They can be reached at 0845 1300424 (not a premium rate number) or you can email them at You can also find out more on the Igennus website.

Don’t forget all Yes to Life blog readers are entitled to 15% discount with Igennus and for every purchase made using the coupon code ‘YesToLife’. Igennus will donate a portion back to Yes To Life to help fund our ongoing support for you.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The eclipse of cancer - by Maria Paraskeva

One of our lovely beneficiaries, Maria, talks about her personal cancer journey and how she nurtured herself back to health.

I found my medical file, dated 2010. In it there were scan results confirming a diagnosis of aggressive stage 4b NH Lymphoma with multiple “metastasis in the liver and peritoneum”. It was my eclipse, the sun blotted out by the moon, earth into a long night. There was plenty of light available to me, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I had just lost my mother to cancer, and the news of my cancer arrived just after my Mum’s funeral. All I wanted and needed at the time was to be left alone to grieve, to pay appropriate respect to her memory. She was my whole world and I was heartbroken. This determined very much what I chose to do next. Had I not lost mum I may have taken a different route.

The family had gathered around Mum’s bedside. Unbeknown to me, the hospital had tried a few times to contact me with the results of an MRI on the kidneys showing the spread of cancer. There followed more scans. I recall going to the hospital after Mum’s passing. The consultant was very sympathetic when he gave me my results and asked me, how was it that I was still standing? He insisted that I was admitted to hospital there and then. I was shocked to say the least. But I had known on a deeper level that things hadn’t felt right for some time. The effort to look after my dear mum had taken its toll and I was weary, scared and had a sense of impending doom.

I listened to my consultant and went back in the afternoon for admission into hospital. The hospital planned to perform immediate multiple biopsies to discover the primary tumours. I turned up to the ward and just as I was walking along the corridor, a cup that I’d brought with me, which had been given to me by my Mum, seemed to fly out of my hand and the little cat’s head on the cup split in two. That was enough for me to walk out of the hospital. I was nervous enough and very jittery. It was a good move as I had time then to research the best person to do the biopsy. I requested that person to perform the procedure a few weeks later, giving me time also to digest the news. The female consultant performing the biopsy, asked me if could she go in a second time and take more samples. I replied that once should be sufficient. I had a fear of too many biopsies spreading the cancer further. And most of all, I needed to feel comfortable at every stage of my decision making.

It is very interesting looking back at things from 7 years ago. It’s a real eye opener. I’ve forgotten how tough those days were. In this medical file, there are letters to and from consultants. My sister was good enough to take notes during my appointments. I didn’t trust myself, in the heightened state of mind that I was in, to actually take in all the facts. I was trying to assess all the time how I was feeling. What felt right and what didn’t. This was very frustrating for the doctors and for my family. I even signed a consent form to begin chemotherapy, twice in 3 months. Each time backing out. Each time I got close to accepting chemotherapy, I changed my mind. I was presented with worse case scenarios and foregone conclusions, that I wouldn’t make it beyond 2 or 3 months.

The first time I signed a consent form to begin treatment, the professor of the clinic I was in, took hold of his head and made as if to bang his head on the wall because he was despairing at my response. I had felt very sorry for him. Another scan had revealed possible intrusion into another organ. My family, father, brother, sister, began to push me to accept treatment. They argued convincingly that one death was enough, having lost Mum, they didn’t want to lose me too. I signed a second consent form. And again I backed out.

I faced a lot of resistance. The specialist in Alternative medicine was very clear too. In his opinion, the cancer was of the type and grading which made it difficult to be successfully treated with alternative means, even if I travelled to the best clinics in Europe. This wonderful doctor explained to me that his conscience would not allow him to do anything else but recommend chemotherapy. At first, he was reluctant to accept me as his patient.

Looking at this file now, I realise I couldn’t have acquired all the information without a lot of help. My sister was particularly good at research. And my brother and sister were good at keeping my spirits up. I listened as best I could. And each time I’d consider what I felt comfortable doing. There was no one around me who did not put pressure on me to start chemo.

In the folder I still have the protocol which I followed for a few months, devised by the doctor working in the Alternative cancer field. This was a very tough regime for me to follow… It involved intense juicing and lots of supplements. I administered coffee enemas daily to clean the liver. It was intense and I became worn out even more by simply trying to follow it. The alternative doctor was great though and he tailored it further, so that I wouldn’t abandon it altogether.

The pressure continued from all sides. It was difficult not to submit to the medical model, which could take over my care and simplify everything, and stop all the internal voices telling me that I wasn’t thinking straight. This was very compelling for me at the time. But I had a nagging doubt that I would not survive chemotherapy. There was the NHL and tumours in the liver and peritoneum. I realised that the primary organ to deal with the drugs administered, was the liver. And if the liver was in such a bad way, why injure it further? Somehow it didn't add up. And all along I didn't feel right about it, yet I did try so hard to convince myself otherwise.

I felt an overwhelming need to cultivate a feeling of safety, and to promote a sense of ease within. I had read the leaflets, listened to the experts, chased down the cancer survivors, friends who were on the way to recovery. I followed the dietary recommendations but felt uneasy about cutting out so many of the foods I enjoyed. It’s hard to say which of the practical things I did helped. But all this effort to keep things going was very draining. I was juggling it all whilst standing on my head upside down. That’s what it felt like. I couldn’t see myself in the scrabble for the facts and in the “doing of it all”. I was so driven to survive, to beat cancer, that I was in danger of undoing any good that I had achieved. I felt enormous pressure, which was a far cry from feeling at ease. It was inevitable that I would soon have to slow down.

It was a turning point of orientation, a shift, which in my opinion was the clincher. I had a new focus. I began to rediscover my practice of Qi Gong. The teacher of my style of Qi Gong (“Hua Gong”) taught me simple techniques of how to repair, contain and settle myself and make space for the real essence (life energy) to return to the body. I had quite a few “one to one” healing sessions with him also. I discovered the value of experiencing insubstantiality, a deep connection to source, whilst remaining deeply grounded. My energy field had been like a bucket with holes in it. Whilst on a Qi Gong retreat, my dreams returned to me and were very lucid. Through working with these dreams, I knew I was going in the right direction. I attended some shamanic ceremonies also but I’ll talk about this another time. Art therapy brought in the element of play and creativity. I didn’t have to paint or draw like Rembrandt. I simply let my unconscious reveal itself and had a lot of fun doing it, whether it was a scribble or something finer. (I’ve had some brilliant art therapists, who were so good, and helped me greatly, that it was like magic.) Art and all creativity was a seam of gold and still plays a massive role in my recovery.

So, I slowly nurtured myself back to health. I was less fearful and I had a sense of being at ease. And this flickering light of peace and feeling safe, and supported by the universe was the single most valuable feeling I could hold on to. I have a very close friend who has been living with untreatable cancer for many years. Her vitality, her clarity of mind is truly inspiring. She has advised me that the best thing I could do for myself was to get out of my own way. Very wise words. In fighting cancer, without realising it, I became the biggest obstacle to my own healing.

Looking back now, I realise that I simply gave my body a better chance of coming back to itself. I know of people who have also achieved miraculous recovery through chemotherapy. I can only describe my own journey, as it is so individual a journey. The turning point of orientation brought in freshness. I still try to immerse myself in nature, to be amongst trees. Getting fresh air as often as I can. Cultivating good friendships. Not holding on to grievances. I also found myself a good talking therapist and I have regular acupuncture, (I found a good healer who uses both acupuncture and herbs). Friendship, laughter and the full expression of joy, allowing grief and sadness to appear and dissolve, all play a huge role in recovery. And actually, is a good way to live, cancer or no cancer.

If only I had known about this amazing charity, “Yes to Life”, before. I may have run around a little less. I’m now an ardent supporter of theirs. All the money and the focus go on treatments. A charity such as “Say Yes to Life” provides a life jacket for all those who need support through diagnosis to remission to recovery and wellbeing.

Friday, 1 September 2017

In honour of a wonderful woman, Nina Joy

Today's post is in honour of a wonderful woman, Nina Joy, who sadly passed away this week. Nina was a huge supporter of Yes to Life and tackled her relationship with cancer with great humour and grace. We have selected one of her early blogs which reflects her wonderful, upbeat personality. We are really going to miss you, Nina.
Me and my breasts have always had a pretty good relationship. Maybe a bit smaller and perter would have been nice… but that was not my destiny. Think of Marilyn Monroe morphed with Jordan (not the fake tan or pink legwarmers though!) and that would be me then. I was always happy to be a voluptuous girly girl….. because that’s just me. So when they didn’t look quite right, I knew instinctively that something was obviously very wrong………… this was real cause for concern.
So – off I set on the round of appointments and referrals. Of course you always hope that it will be one ot those “95% of lumps turn out to be benign” situations. But because of the change to my nipple, I didn’t think that was the case for me. The GP said to me – “I think you will be fine, cancer does not normally present like this”. I didn’t really believe that to be so. Not because I’m a pessimist – the exact opposite in fact! But just because I did.
When I went to the breast clinic for the first time, I had lots of offers to come with me. No I said….. thinking it would be long and tedious which it was and that I wouldn’t find anything out until I came back for the results, at which time I would ask someone to come with me. How wrong could I be!
I had been in with the consultant about 10 mins max before he pronounced “ooh yes – this is definitely cancer”. When he did the biopsy – taking 6 or 7 samples from the tumour in my very sore and tender right breast – he held the samples up to the light saying “yes – this is definitely tumour”. Gulp. How life can change in a heartbeat.
When I went for my results, with my sister with me for moral support, it all seemed quite academic. I knew it was bad – a large tumour in my right breast which had spread to the lymph glands. This would mean a likely mastectomy, or if the chemo (over the next 5 mths) shrunk it enough, possibly a lumpectomy. Then radiotherapy perhaps. And then 5 years on Tamoxifen.
Deep joy. I had very strong feelings against chemo anyway, and the thought of being butchered and burned (how I see surgery and radiotherapy) well – what can I say. I was devastated by the prospect.
On the other hand – if this is what would cure me, then so be it. I knew that many women before me had got through it and survived and even thrived. If they had, I could.
I needed to get rid of my many negative feelings about chemo – and I began to reframe my thoughts around this. I even had my hair cut really short in preparation for chemo. I thought it would be helpful to be less attached to my blonde locks. My friends and family rallied around me, offering practical and emotional support, all ready for the chemo and getting me through that. This is the path that so many cancer patients take, it’s known, it’s understood. We all know someone who has come through it, and this end justifies the means. Or does it? Deep down I wasn’t particularly convinced, but I didn’t really have many options did I?

Re-purposing old drugs for cancer: sometimes old ‘uns can be good ‘uns

Today's post is from our chairman Robin Daly who discusses how the re-purposing of drugs could unlock new potentials for treating cancer.

The re-purposing of old drugs for cancer is making headline news this year. So is this really ‘new’? Is it even ‘newsworthy’? Or is it simply yet another of those endless ‘cancer breakthrough’ stories so beloved of the media?

To answer the first question: this is far from a new idea. The incidental positive effects of some old, safe, tried and tested drugs on cancer has been noted for many years. For example, metformin, given to people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, has the striking effect of transforming their risk of developing cancer from higher than normal healthy people to lower. The thing that is new is the level of interest around this phenomenon.

You might have expected, given the appalling, runaway cancer statistics and the spiralling cost of treatment, that an observation such as this effect of metformin might have been heralded as potentially another groundbreaking medical breakthrough along the lines of Fleming spotting the mould in his petri dish that led to penicillin. But in the event, this, along with dozens of other similar observations, was noted as ‘interesting’ and relegated to a ‘footnote’ of medical history.

Fortunately, a few pioneering doctors have noticed these medical ‘footnotes’ and begun using these drugs as part of their integrative protocols to control cancer. One of the most instantly striking features of the drugs is their extraordinary diversity. Apart from metformin, they include an anti-parasitic drug called mebendazole; a statin, one of a class of drugs developed to lower the risk of heart attacks but increasingly seen to be ‘barking up the wrong tree’; an old antibiotic, doxycycline; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. On the face of it, this is a
completely random collection of unconnected medicines. Certainly within the current orthodoxy of cancer as a genetic disease, caused by defects in the genes leading to changes in DNA and cell mutation, it’s hard if not impossible to make sense of it all.

This is where another old idea comes to the rescue: in 1924, the scientist Otto Warburg put forward the notion that cancer has essentially one root cause - damage to the cells’ energy generators, known as mitochondria1 (1).  Again, this looks like one of those breakthrough scientific observations - and indeed Warburg eventually received a Nobel Prize for making it - but all too soon it found itself relegated to the category of  an interesting observation, merely an effect of the basic genetic problem. But if we dust off Warburg’s theory and use it to illuminate these random pieces that appear to come from completely different jigsaws, we can start to see how they do in fact fit together in a way that makes complete sense. We can see how all these drugs have a disruptive effect on the ‘hallmark’ feature of all cancer cells - their damaged metabolism.

The reason for much of the recent media exposure is that a group of scientists and oncologists have launched a low budget trial in London* in which they are enrolling late stage patients with any type of cancer on a programme of four re-purposed drugs. This programme can be added to existing standard treatments. Very unusually, the trial facilitators take an active interest in all the ‘integrative’ approaches a patient may be using such as dietary interventions, oxygen therapies, vitamin C infusions or heat treatment (hyperthermia), and take careful note of these.

Since they are fully signed up to the metabolic theory of cancer, such non-toxic approaches make complete sense as additional ways of targeting cancer’s trademark metabolic features, whilst simultaneously supporting healthy cells. I understand that early results look very promising and that the trial is still open to further applicants.

How could we have overlooked such a potential goldmine of methods to control cancer? The combination of a statin and metformin alone has been observed to reduce cancer risk by a staggering 80% (2). There is a serious danger of the trial results making the best of cutting-edge cancer treatments look ridiculous - not to mention ridiculously expensive. The problem of course is that the main driver for healthcare innovation is business, and sadly health is only a secondary consideration for business. Their interest is in profits, and there are clearly no big bucks for the corporates in this particular goldmine. Out-of-patent drugs are cheap. The four drugs in the trial come in at less than £20 per month, hardly worth mentioning alongside something in the order of £5000-£20,000 per month for targeted gene therapy.

The obvious fact that we cannot afford to entrust the health of our nation to corporations must be assimilated and acted on by our government if we are to turn around the headlong long rush into multiple chronic conditions. For too long the food and pharmaceutical industries have been profiting at the expense of our nation’s health. To begin to turn the tide, we need strong government initiatives to drive unprofitable research into cheap solutions and to control the parameters of what is allowed into our food supply.

To return to the other two questions I asked at the outset: I’d say re-purposing of drugs  certainly is newsworthy. In fact I’d say it needs as much exposure as it can get to alert the public to the realities of 21st century ‘cancer research’. And as news, I think - I sincerely hope - it just might be a real ‘cancer breakthrough’ this time.

Read more blogs from Robin here

* Care Oncology Clinic:

1. Warburg, O. (1956) On the origin of cancer cells. Science 123 (3191), 309-314.
Warburg, O., Posener, K, and Negelein, E. (1924) Ueber den stoffwechsel der tumoren. Biochem Z 152, 319-344. OpenURL

2. Khurana, V., Sheth, A., Caldito, G. and Barkin, J.S. (2007) Statins reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer in humans: a case-constrol study of half a million veterans. Pancreas 34 (2), 260-265.
DeCensi, A. et al. (2010) Metformin and cancer risk in diabetic patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Prevention Research 3 (11), 1451-1461.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Top tips for reducing digestive symptoms related to cancer treatment

Today's post is by Sophie Tully BSc MSc, a Nutrition Scientist at Igennus Healthcare Nutrition on how you can improve your digestion following cancer treatment.

You've probably been hearing a lot in the media recently about the importance of the gut in promoting overall health. Researchers are increasingly linking our digestive function and the health of the ‘good’ bacteria that live in the gut to everything from mental health, energy, autoimmunity, autism, allergies and of course cancer. As such, supporting digestive health is important for everyone who wants to improve or protect their health. Undergoing treatment for cancer puts a huge strain on the body and in particular can lead to some very nasty digestive tract side effects that leave you feeling worse than is often necessary, as well as leading to further potential complications of treatment. Supporting the digestive tract is vitally important, not only to help reduce the severity of symptoms but also to help ensure your treatments can work as well as possible without further reducing your body’s natural defences.

There are a number of foods and nutritional factors that can easily be added into the diet to help ease digestive discomfort, reduce nausea and diarrhoea and reduce the long-term impact of treatment on digestive health and function. Here are my top  tips for promoting digestive health during and after cancer treatment and reducing the severity of associated symptoms:

1) Boiled bones for better bellies

Cancer treatments can leave you feeling very sick and uncomfortable so that the last thing we want to do is eat. Homemade broths, made from leftover chicken or beef bones, are a great way of ensuring you are still getting some good nutrients into your system without the need to eat huge amounts of food in one go. Bone broths contain a range of nutritional factors, in particular glutamine, collagen and glycine, that directly help heal damage to the lining of the digestive tract caused by cancer treatments; they also support the digestion of food, making it easier on the stomach when you do eat something and promote detoxification helping you to process treatment-related chemicals in the body. Consuming a few sips of warm (not hot) bone broth at every given opportunity will therefore not only help you feel more comfortable after eating other foods, but will also help reduce the severity of your side effects by protecting the gut lining itself and reduce the time the body is exposed to chemical toxins that directly cause these side effects. Pretty impressive stuff!

2) Fermented foods = effective fixes 

These contain the ‘good’ bugs that live in abundance in the digestive tract and support immune function and digestive health. Chemo-, radio- and pharmaco-therapies are very harmful to these bacteria and as a result many of them die off during cancer treatment, leaving you more prone to stomach cramps, upset and sickness, as well as more vulnerable to bugs or infection. When you are feeling up to it, try to consume some fermented foods such as pickles, kombucha or kefir to help repopulate your digestive tract and keep your GI tract happy. If you aren’t a fan of fermented foods, which can be an acquired taste, or you find they cause irritation, then natural organic yogurt and a probiotic supplement can also be used with great effect, reducing side effects and promoting immune function.

3) Soothing solutions for stubborn sickness

If you, like so many others, feel sick following treatment then there are a few things that can help to soothe the stomach and ease the nausea, giving enough respite to get some much needed rest. Fresh ginger and mint teas (taken separately) can be very soothing on the stomach and are commonly used to ease nausea occurring for a range of reasons. Just a few slices of fresh ginger in some warm water or a good bunch of mint leaves sipped throughout the day will not only promote hydration – also very important for helping you to feel better – but can significantly help reduce nausea, leading to a more settled stomach. 

4) Real results to reduce reflux

If you are struggling with persistent burning or indigestion-type sensations as a result of your treatment, chewing slippery elm tablets or taking it as a powder with lots of water can be very helpful. Slippery elm provides a soothing action the whole way down the oesophagus and into the stomach, helping to ease the discomfort and burning experienced almost instantly, allowing you to eat and sleep without feeling constantly like your stomach is on fire. Slippery elm needs to be taken with lots of water so make sure you are constantly sipping at some fluids according to your tolerance.

5) Move the body, move the bowel

For many people, cancer treatments can result in reduced digestive transit, leaving you feeling bloated, uncomfortable and even in pain. It is important to keep hydrated and try to consume fibrous foods whenever possible, as low levels of both fluids and fibre will reduce the volume and consistency of the stool, making it harder to pass. Drinking the above-mentioned teas, water whenever you can and consuming small amounts of legumes, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish and a few prunes can all help to aid transit and prevent things getting backed up. Lack of movement can reduce the blood flow to the digestive tract, reducing its natural peristaltic actions and slowing bowel transit. Trying to move as often as possible can help promote bowel movements so going for a gentle walk might be worth a try to get things moving.

6) Follow my 4Rs for reducing side effect risk: 

  1. Rest is vital to make sure your body has the time to repair and recover following treatment. Whilst it may be easier said than done, allowing yourself the time needed for your body to deal with the body-wide damage treatment causes is as important as the treatment itself. Too much extra stress and activity will divert energy and resources away from where it is needed, making side effects potentially worse.
  2. Rehydrate regularly to make sure you are able to flush out the potentially harmful chemicals produced in the body as a result of treatment, as well as keep the digestive tract moving and fluid levels stable for carrying nutrients to the cells.
  3. Refuel as often as you can with natural whole foods. This is important to ensure you provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to process the treatment and its impact on your cells. Prioritising plant foods, proteins and healthy fats and of course your bone broth is the best way to support the body’s needs.
  4. Relax! Stress is your worst enemy at this time as it will compete with your immune system for resources, potentially worsening side effects and reducing treatment effect. Stress is also a major contributor to digestive symptoms, so whilst worrying and getting stressed is a natural part of undergoing cancer treatment it’s important to try to engage in regular relaxation and calming activities that take your mind off things and help you stay calm and happy. Mindfulness, meditation, gentle exercise such as yoga or walking, sitting outside and listening to audiobooks can all be great ways of keeping stress in check. 
If you would like to know more about any of the above, please feel free to call Nina, Sophie or Kyla, all of whom will be very happy to answer your questions.

They can be reached at 0845 1300424 (not a premium rate number) or you can email them at You can also find out more on the Igennus website.

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Those 3 words: "You have cancer" - Dr Nasha Winters

This week's blog is written by Dr Nasha Winters who we interviewed on our radio show in June about her book “The Metabolic Approach To Cancer” which she wrote with Jess Higgins Kelley.

Coming up to my 26th year out from a terminal cancer diagnosis, I am no stranger to the stigma, fear, overwhelm, confusion and paralysis that can accompany such a life-changing phrase: “You have cancer”. 

I am also hypersensitive to the impetus to jump immediately into treatment with no regard to the individual or to the origins of this process. The real medical emergency of a cancer diagnosis IS the diagnosis itself. How you respond and react to those three words can profoundly impact your therapeutic outcome. 

Rushing blindly in to a surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, alternative therapy, dietary intervention, etc. is a dangerous and slippery slope. There is no reason why you shouldn’t take a moment and breath. 

Those 3 words - “You have cancer”- are simply a light switch coming on. This is an opportunity to start using that light to illuminate what is happening in, on and around you.  What is this diagnosis trying to tell you? This is NOT the time to dive headfirst into any particular treatment approach. It is the time to start your detective work. 

A few life saving and life changing recommendations I would make for anyone on this journey - whether it is your first time or a recurrence, is this:

1)   Stop. Be still. Breath. Turn off the computer. Don’t immediately talk to everyone you know.  This is YOUR body. This is YOUR process. It is a sacred moment to get really clear on how you got here and where you need to go next.
2)   Get a second opinion. Even a third. And from different institutions. You will find, for the most part, the recommendations will vary. Find what resonates with you.
3)   TEST.  BEFORE someone starts any form of treatment get the following:
a.   If you had a biopsy that led to this diagnosis, have it sent off for molecular profiling to a company like Caris, Foundation One, Rational Therapeutics, etc.
b.   If you didn’t have a biopsy, and you want/need one, perhaps meet with an integrative oncology practitioner who can prepare your body for the biopsy to help keep the cells intact with things like modified citrus pectin or scheduling biopsy/surgery and scans around menstrual cycle as your hormonal levels will impact results, and the likelihood of metastasis is higher if biopsy/surgery done during the estrogenic phase. 
                                               i.     Example:  Breast MRI, ultrasound, mammography or thermography is best between day 5 and 15 of menstrual cycle (day 1 is the first day of your period)
                                              ii.     Same holds true for any other biopsies or surgeries in menstruating women for any form of cancer
c.   Get a liquid biopsy to determine circulating tumor cell count and circulating fragmented cancer DNA along with molecular profile on actionable targets.  And use it often to assess your response to therapy and to monitor you AFTER completion of therapy.  This is an FDA approved, insurance covered test and validated for the following tumor types:
                                               i.     Lung
                                              ii.     Breast
                                             iii.     Gastric
                                             iv.     Colorectal
                                              v.     Prostate
                                             vi.     Melanoma
                                            vii.     Renal Cell (kidney)
                                           viii.     Ovarian
d.   You can also look into liquid assays to check for chemosensitivity and response to non-conventional therapies with RGCC out of Greece or BioFocus out of Germany
e.    I would also strongly consider the following tests to have as a baseline to assess your overall terrain and to bring to light triggers to your cancering process:  CBC with diff, CMP, GGT, Ferritin, CRP, Sedrate, LDH, Fibrinogen, Homocysteine, TSH, Total T4, Free T3, T3 Uptake, Thyroid Antibodies, 25-OH D3, HbA1C, Insulin, IGF-1, Serum Copper, Ceruloplasmin, Serum Zinc and any tumor marker testing appropriate to the cancer type.  This information will be useful to understand what patterns you carried prior to embarking on any treatment so you may start to address these drivers from the get go with other means like diet, lifestyle, supplements, etc. To learn more about testing I recommend Jenny Hrbacek, RN book:  “Cancer Free!  Are You Sure?”
f.     Assemble your team!  Your oncologist has likely had ZERO training in nutrition so VERY important to get a therapeutic nutritionist, who is well-versed in metabolic therapies/treatment with diet of cancer (this is often NOT a Registered Dietician RD).  You need someone to support your emotional body as well---a therapist, life coach, support group, or church.  And someone who can navigate the world of both conventional and alternative or integrative approaches such as an integrative naturopathic oncologist or someone well versed in how these paradigms should be woven together.
g.    And, take the Terrain TenTM Questionnaire at the front of our new book:  “The Metabolic Approach To Cancer” (available on Amazon here) to assess your terrain with regards to other exposures contributing to a cancering process.  The book can then guide you on how to make the changes necessary to support your whole terrain.
4)    And, once you have collected all the data, work with someone who can pull it all together and help create a focused plan of action that is specific to YOU! That might include conventional, non-conventional or combination treatments along with diet, herbs, supplements and lifestyle interventions to boost immune function, drive a cytotoxic (cancer cell death) process, encourage a metabolic overhaul, create better response to therapy and with less side effects while enhancing quality of life. 

Please know you are far more powerful than you are led to believe on this journey. Do your due diligence to take a thoughtful, researched approach to your wellbeing.  Know you are a divinely unique individual with particular epigenetic hiccups, biochemical processes and life circumstances that impact how you will respond to any given treatment and adjust accordingly.  And may you thrive, not just survive!

You can listen to Nasha being interviewed on our radio show here.