Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why is Our Breath so Important for Cancer Recovery?

Breathing for Cancer Recovery - Calm and Relaxation -  Managing Stress, Fear, Pain and Anxiety

By Diana Ross, Guest blogger

“Close your eyes and gradually bring your breath into your mind’s awareness. Experience each inhalation as it draws fresh energy in; feel the exhalation emptying you, carrying away fatigue, stress and unnecessary thoughts. Let your breaths flow softly and smoothly from one into the next without hurrying or pressing between breaths. Now breathe in, and breathe out.” Diana Ross

We hear from time to time the familiar saying “take a deep breath” when we become stressed, anxious or over excited. Ever wonder why? There are many reasons why but most notably taking a full, deep conscious breath has been known to settle us down when we are nervous or upset.

We create this internal calm by consciously tuning in to our breath. The immediate result of tuning into your breath is the ability to obtain control of your emotional state of mind. The positive potential which comes from controlling your breathing results in facilitating recovery from surgery and beyond. This healing ability of breathing consciously works by calming nerves and inviting relaxation. The immune system also benefits from proper breathing cycles. By conscious breathing we bring the mind/body/spirit state into balance and the nervous system runs with maximum efficiency.

Balancing the breath serves to maintain and equalize the complete breath cycle. The goal of conscious breathing is to have both inhalation and exhalation identical in volume and duration thus creating the natural flow of the breath. This natural flow brings the quiet mind with it. Concentration will be higher during this equalized state and invite a meditative mind. A meditative mind cannot happen until the breath is brought under control. You see now how vitally important the breath is in wellness and how it heals.

Habitually we resort to unconscious shallow breathing and therefore do not utilize our true lung capacity when we create uneven inhalations and exhalations. As you begin to focus on your breathing for the health benefits it may reap you may notice that your airflow might be unequal. Do not be concerned. It is a natural phenomenon, and you need not resort to any other method; just continue to practice breathing with awareness. Strive for an equalized airflow through both nostrils. Also in the effects of the new breathing practice may not be felt right away, but after a few sessions the results will become obvious. It is only through practice that we begin to master the conscious breathing practice, so don’t get discouraged. When practicing breathing techniques (pranayama) the mind will become still, and eventually the breath will become even. The energy we normally spend engaging and processing the world around us begins to bend inward and we begin to see with more clarity.

Breathe With Purpose CD
The importance of training the breath becomes a powerful tool in managing stress, fear, and anxiety as well as recovery. A focused breathing technique assists in restoring energy and calming the mind, so we need to breathe with greater awareness. The breath is an amazing vehicle in that it is always present. It is effective at every level of self inquiry and acts in both a preventative as well as a restorative manner. Once we bring an awareness of the breath into the moment, where it is most needed, we can then improve our quality of life. We can enjoy quiet moments of meditation: we can enjoy our be-ing.

We can begin or continue to heal. We can enjoy being present.

Diana Ross, E-RYT500, CYT, Certified KaliRay TriYoga
Founder, Breast Cancer Yoga

Breast Cancer Yoga has a Two Breathing CD series “Breathe with Purpose, and Breathe for Health and Wellness.” It has a series of breaths that are easy to learn. You are guided the entire time, breath by breath. You can purchase them on the website.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

6 Tips To Prepare Healthy Holiday Foods

Brought to you from the Pink Kitchen, for breast cancer survivors and those who love them!

by Lisa Grey, Guest Blogger, Cancer Survivor and Thriver and Founder of the Pink Kitchen  

The holiday season brings with it many joys; and one of our favorite ways to share joy with our loved ones is through sharing food: parties, family meals, and sweets passed around at the office or the neighborhood.

I don’t mean to be a Grinch – but all of this momentary joy wreaks havoc on our bodies.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner - and all the culinary treats it brings – this may be the very last thing you want to hear. But hear me out, friends. I would never go so far as to suggest that you give up all holiday goodies. That would be setting you – and me! – up for failure. From time to time, we all want to indulge in a famous holiday cookie that takes us back to childhood, or perhaps a special dish that warms us on a chilly holiday evening.

But there are a few ways that we can ease the burden on our bodies. While you can’t control what other people serve, you do have some control over what you serve in your own home, or what you bring to someone else’s table. And there truly are ways to eat scrumptious foods that also happen to be healthy. Here are six tips to get you started.

Fresh cranberry sauce is easier than you think. It also tastes much fresher, and has a vibrant, gorgeous color. Try the easy recipe below, and you may never go back to your old cranberry sauce!

Use vegetarian broths to make gravy. Meat broths tend to be high in fat and calories. On the other hand, vegetable broths are low in calories and fat, but are still full of flavor. This brings us to our next tip.

Use millet flour to thicken gravies and sauces. Millet flour is yellow in color. It is much healthier for you than all-purpose flour because it comes from a whole grain, providing nutrients such as . You can find millet flour in healthier grocery stores such as Whole Foods or online.

Rosemary Lemon Gravy on Turnip Mashed Potatoes
Mash some turnips with your potatoes. Sound crazy? Be brave and give it a try. Turnips are very low in carbs. When blended with potatoes, you may not even taste them. But you are adding nutrition, as well as lowering calories.

Give your sweet potatoes a healthy makeover. Put down those marshmallows. Sweet potatoes, as their name suggests, are naturally sweet. Just fill a casserole dish with chopped sweet potatoes. Then add cinnamon, coconut oil, and just a touch of maple syrup, agave syrup, or brown rice syrup.

Substitute coconut oil for butter. We all know that butter clogs our arteries. But coconut oil promotes a healthy heart. There are two types of coconut oil. One is unrefined, which tastes like coconut. The other is naturally refined. Refined coconut oil, which has no flavor, can be used in place of butter in any of your savory dishes.

If you follow the tips above, you can satisfy your craving for a hearty holiday meal, while taking care of your body at the same time. If you think about it, that’s the best holiday gift you can give yourself. After all, the healthier you are, the more holidays you will likely be around to celebrate!

Easy Fresh Cranberry Sauce
(Serves approximately 8)
1 bag fresh cranberries
2/3 c. pitted dates
1 orange, peeled
1 apple, cored and cut into quarters
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice

Core the apple.
Peel the orange, removing seeds.
Place dates in food processor. Pulse until they start to break down.
Add the orange, apple, cranberries,and spices.
Blend until combined, but slightly chunky.

Lisa Grey, founder of the Pink Kitchen, knows a thing or two about nutrition. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lisa used nutritious foods and herbs to help her attack the disease. Her goal was to do whatever she could to destroy the cancer and keep it away.
Since then, Lisa has had a passion for sharing simple, quick, and delicious ways to eat nutritiously…not only for breast cancer survivors, but for anyone overwhelmed with the prospect of healthy eating. Out of this passion, Pink Kitchen was born.

To browse holiday gift ideas for cancer patients please visit Lots To Live For, Inc. at: http://www.lotstolivefor.com/category/cancer_gifts

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

5 Point Plan for Better Cancer Outcomes: Focus on a Natural Approach to Cancer

Complementary Medicine Options and Life Style Choices to Help Cancer Patients From a Patient/Advocate Perspective

By Ann Fonfa (founder Annie Appleseed Project), guest blogger

I was diagnosed with (breast) cancer in January 1993 at the age of 44. At the time I was suffering from extreme Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I felt that the oncologist I consulted was incredibly dismissive of a health issue that caused me to take to my bed 3-4 days at a time. I was reacting with long-lasting headache, dizziness, nausea, rashes and more from exposure to fragrances, cleaning products, wet paint, formaldehyde (new furniture/carpeting), etc.

So I chose to explore what was then called Alternative medicine. My search brought me a lot more information than expected – specifically a wealth of information about nutrition - which is where I started. At this point most people have heard what is healthier to eat, but some have resisted actually doing it. If you want to reduce your risk of cancer occurrence, recurrence or to just be healthier, you MUST give up so much sugar, NO soda, and NO deep-fried foods. It’s that simple – these items (chips are deep-fried), are just not real food. We’ve let ourselves fall into these awful habits, so darn easy to eat chips at lunchtime instead of a salad or an apple.

Back to alternative cancer ideas: After some years, yoga became totally acceptable to the point that many cancer centers and most support groups offer it. Studies have shown that it really makes a difference to our health. The concept of complementary therapies was introduced and has gradually become accepted. There are simple and natural substances and protocols that could reduce toxicity and enhance the value of chemotherapy and/or radiation. (Here’s our Free Handout of Natural Strategies to Reduce Toxicities). Complementary therapies began to be called integrative because they COULD be used while undergoing conventional treatments. Let’s face it, the treatments offered by the mainstream cause harms – ranging from short-term to longer-lasting. Why is this allowed even now?
I have been gathering information about cancer prevention and treatment, and sharing it via the nonprofit I founded in June 1999: www.annieappleseedproject.org The Annie Appleseed Project provides information, education, advocacy and awareness for people with cancer and their family and friends. The Annie Appleseed Project offers information on natural therapies and substances, lifestyle issues, and complementary or alternative medicine, from a patient’s perspective. This is gathered in part from our network of volunteer advocates who attend educational cancer meetings around the globe, from medical, scientific/research journals, and emails from supporters.

It’s out there, it’s been studied. Sadly many researchers feel the need to look at natural substances the same way pharmaceuticals are examined, even though many natural items have been shown, during hundreds or thousands of years of human use, to be quite safe (except for personal allergy). Doctors have been taught to expect pharmaceutical-style clinical trials – but here’s the catch. The cost of a clinical trial, what is called Level 1, is in the hundreds of millions and natural protocols simply cannot be patented (nor should they), thus no pharmaceutical company is interested. This barrier is one I wrote about in a journal article many years ago and this still has not changed. Another major issue that blocks the full use of complementary therapies is the lack of insurance reimbursement.

The Annie Appleseed Project has a five point plan for better health in general and better outcomes if you have been diagnosed with cancer:

1. Eating Right If someone wishes to do a range of inexpensive, simple and protective things, start with healthier eating – adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet. Remove SODA and Deep-fried foods, eat less sugar and less salt; and add whole grains.

2. Physical Activity Take a walk, dance, shake, swim, bike, etc. on a daily basis. Good news from author Antronette (Toni) Yancey, MD, MPH, whose book Instant Recess explains her theories. Just 10 minutes a day of physical activity, full-out, is enough to keep our bodies healthy. Many studies have shown that physical activity is very beneficial to people going through treatment for cancer, or in recovery. Combining physical activity with healthier eating is EVEN better than either separately – studies show that too.

3. Dietary Supplements Fish oil, probiotics, vitamin D3 and curcumin are the basics because everything else depends on what you personally may need. You can visit a clinical nutritionist who does blood work, or you can get your own eating patterns assessed. Your doctors can test you for vitamin D3 but it seems from the recent work done in this area, that almost no one has enough vitamin D3. Make sure you supplement if you are low. The darker your skin, the more vitamin D you may need.

4. Detoxification We live in a world filled with chemical exposures, as a chemically-sensitive person (although I am so much better than I used to be); I KNOW when the air is bad. Plastic materials surround us, many being shown to be harmful. Pesticides in our food supply, and our water, formaldehyde and parabens in our clothing, furniture and hair/skincare products are all part of this problem. But some detoxification is possible – cilantro, dandelion leaves OR parsley can help the body remove heavy metals – one of these should be eaten every day. Making fresh (organic) raw juices can help a lot too. Using hot and cold showers, foot baths, far infrared saunas and more, can all help detox. Again our website can be a help in finding ideas. Always drink lots of water – do you have a simple filter? It’s better to filter your water than drinking it straight up these days. Try to drink from a BPA-free carry bottle.

Never use plastic in your microwave, better yet - DON’T use the microwave. It is really a time management issue. If you know you want to eat at 6:30, turn your oven (or toaster-oven) on ahead of time. Or eat a BIG salad for dinner. Some say eating less at night is healthier. I personally eat a big breakfast, a salad for lunch, and often fruit and nuts for dinner.

5. Relax and Enjoy Life Yoga and meditation are not the only ways to relaxation – that which gives you pleasure should be your focus too. Are you a gardener, a grandparent, a bowler – focus on your joy in action. I attended a meeting in Brussels, Belgium in 1999 – the second international conference ever held by the National Breast Cancer Coalition. My sister came with me as we planned, excitingly, to travel to Amsterdam together. She was astounded by the party held at the end of the conference. I asked her whether she thought we ought to be sitting around and crying instead of dancing? She realized then, as we all should, that life is RIGHT NOW. We are meant to enjoy this moment. If I had spent the last almost twenty years worrying about dying from cancer, that would have been an enormous waste of my life.

Happily I didn’t. I enjoy each day and live it fully. You should too.

For those seeking more information you can visit our Annie Appleseed Project Facebook page, follow us @annieappleseed on Twitter, visit our website www.annieappleseedproject.org (you can opt in for our monthly e-newsletter). We’ll host Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies conference February 28-March 2, 2013 in West Palm Beach, FL. Some scholarships are available for those in need. We offer CEs and CNEs for professionals. 5 organic meals, exhibits, networking, giveaways, much more. Ann Fonfa is the founder of the Annie Appleseed Project.

To learn about products that can help reduce and relieve the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment please visit www.LotsToLiveFor.com

This blog post is part of the Resource Roundup series sponsored by Cancer Blog: Lots To Live For! in which the spotlight is shined on a resource that can help improve the journeys of cancer patients and caregivers. A Past Resource Roundup  was Caring Bridge.