The diagnosis is a shock, and the treatment is enormously stressful for the body and soul: For most breast cancer patients, everything is still far from normal after the cancer treatment or rehabilitation is complete. A diet rich in vital substances can be helpful.
You have managed the most strenuous stages, but the medical measures – surgery and radiation, but above all chemotherapy – affect the entire metabolism of some breast cancer patients. The fear of relapse often remains. This is why good follow-up care after breast cancer treatment is extremely important.
Chemotherapy has a lasting effect on the metabolism
It’s not uncommon for people to feel weak and tired months after chemo. The consequences of treatment for those affected depend on the individual therapy plan. The side effects of some chemotherapy treatments are severe. Because the administered cytostatics (“cell stoppers”) not only inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells, they generally prevent normal cell division. Their effectiveness is all the higher, the faster cells multiply – since cancer cells usually divide very quickly, cytostatics work well against them. However, the drugs can also affect other body tissues with a high rate of division: such as the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, or the hair root cells.
Possible chemotherapy side effects are therefore nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss, but also inflammation of the mucous membranes, anemia, severe exhaustion and tiredness (fatigue), and generally increased susceptibility to infections. Hormone therapy in particular has side effects such as hot flashes or bone pain, which sometimes persist for a long time.
Have complaints clarified by a doctor
One reason for constant side effects such as fatigue and pain can be the immune system weakened by the cytostatics and the nutritional status of the body cells. However, metastases must also be considered, and the suspicion must be clarified by medical examinations if necessary. Bone metastases can be excluded by imaging methods (bone scintigraphy). Blood tests provide information about tumor markers and the regeneration status of the detoxifying organs (liver and kidney values), ongoing anemia, or a lack of vital substances (vitamins, trace elements).
The so-called phase angle indicates the nutritional status and energy status of the cells. The doctor measures it using a so-called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA): This is an electrical measurement of body composition based on the different conductivity of bones, organs, muscles, body fluids, and body fat. Doctors can use it to assess the metabolic performance of the body’s cells. People with a good nutritional and exercise status have a phase angle of 5 or more. After chemotherapy, it is often significantly lower. Therapy Recommendations
Resilience after breast cancer: Gaining strength with the right diet
Especially in the field of cancer medicine, nutrition cannot replace classic medicine. However, nutritional support serves as an “adjuvant” strategy, that is, as an aid to strengthen the body. Mediterranean cuisine is particularly suitable for recovering energy in a healthy way: with lots of good oils – such as olive oil -, vegetables, and fish, plus nuts rich in vital substances and few carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates – for example from sweets, but also from a lot of bread or pasta – are unfavorable because they promote chronic inflammatory processes and make you tired.
Antioxidants and other plant substances, on the other hand, support the metabolism and strengthen the immune system. For example, a green smoothie as a snack provides many anti-inflammatory substances – depending on individual tolerance. Focus on vegetables and herbs rather than sugar-rich fruit. Flax and almond flour as well as spices such as oregano, chili, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, coffee, and other foods also have an antioxidant effect.
Movement is good
Not to forget: Regular daily exercise promotes blood circulation and boosts the metabolism! A walk in nature is particularly good for the soul and strengthens the immune system at the same time. As your strength grows, you will be able to further expand your radius of action. A pedometer can document progress and have a motivating effect.