Cancer Recovery Diet – Kick the Beast!

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Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most devastating times in a person’s life.  The shock, denial, the unknown all take its toll alongside the actual cancer and any treatment itself.  This life-changing event can understandably leave you neglecting your diet whilst you struggle to come to terms with your diagnosis and any treatments that are to follow.  However, cancer treatment places a very high demand on the body and good nutritional health before; during and after cancer treatment is important in your overall road to recovery.

Good nutrition will help:

  • Maintain & improve quality of life
  • Help recovery
  • Fight infection
  • Maintain strength & energy
  • Boost your mood
  • Reduce medication/treatment side effects
  • Stabilise hormones

One of the easiest and simple ways to incorporate healthy nutritional foods into your diet is to follow the basic principles of ‘clean eating.’  This simply means:

  • Choosing whole, natural foods
  • Choosing unrefined foods , unprocessed packaged foods
  • Including some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal – a good balanced meal contains everything you need to fuel your body, promote healthy growth & keep the immune system balanced. Try planning your meals around your chosen vegetables, filling half your plate & eating these first 
  • Watching out for salt and sugar
  • Avoid caffeine & even decaffeinated drinks
  • Eating five to six small meals throughout the day – aim for two decent sized main meals & a few hefty snacks
  • Consider following a more plant-based diet such as Vegetarian or Vegan, which can help lower inflammation in the body.
  • Include some saturated fats! For decades we have been told saturated fats are damaging to our health, however more & more research is now disproving this theory.  So much so the Swedish Government is now encouraging its people to eat more of it.  When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  When choosing a saturated fat, aim for:
    • Avocado
    • Coconut oil – this is a key saturated fat to add to your lifestyle as it contains many healthy benefits; such as fighting off infections, improving the skin, decreasing heart disease. It also keeps you feeling fuller for longer & helps aid weight loss!
    • Ensure you include only moderately

Ideally we should all aim to eat organically, especially if recovering from cancer.  However for anyone on a tight budget this isn’t always possible.  Try visiting your local farmer’s market where you will often find fresh produce cheaper than at the supermarket, or purchase meats in bulk and portioning them up for the freezer?  Remember, fresh organic produce is FAR more nutritionally dense, meaning not only is it healthier for you, but it takes longer for the body to break down, thus keeping you fuller for longer on smaller portions!  If your budget cannot stretch to organic all the time, then remember many of the tougher fruits and vegetables contain much lower levels of pesticides, but do give them a good clean before using.  Here are some items which are always best to try & spend your organic budget on:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Bell peppers
  • Peaches & nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Pears

Most importantly – BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

 

Amy x

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

My NEW Exciting Role for Undiagnosed Kids!

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“Approximately 6,000 children are born in the UK each year with a syndrome without a name – a genetic condition so rare that it is often impossible to diagnose. Our Big Ambition here at SWAN UK is that each of these families will have the support they need, when they need it.”

 

SWAN = SYNDROME WITHOUT A NAME

How crazy is that??  Imagine having to live your life with a high possibility of NEVER having answers as to what is causing your issues?  For many (including my own family) this is a reality, even now in this age of vast medical & genetic research!

For most families getting a diagnosis remains just as important to them as their child grows up. Without one families can struggle to access the right support. They have no idea what the future holds for their child or if other children they may have in the future could be affected.

I joined this wonderful charity as a parent approximately 7 years ago after having my first child, and have continued to gain support after having a second child whom is also affected by a rare genetic condition.  I cannot thank the SWAN UK family for all the love & support they have given us over the years & the friends we have made along our journey.

Fast forward to July this year & I received an extremely humbling email from SWAN UK asking me whether I would consider applying for the role as the FIRST Welsh Parent Representative!  I was so excited I actually squealed!  Now I have been casually organising family events for SWAN UK for a number of years, but this was an opportunity to make more of a formal impact in the crazy world of Genetics, meeting professionals, recruiting new families along with supporting existing ones.  HOW THE HELL COULD I REFUSE THE ROLE???  I don’t think I’ve completed an application form so fast lol!

I’m extremely pleased to say I GOT THE ROLE!  (can you tell I’m excited yet???).  I have a few months training ahead, but cannot wait to get started!

 

Watch out South Wales, I’m coming to educate you ha!

 

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SWAN UK is part of Genetic Alliance UK, registered charity 1114195.

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

 

 

 

What’s hiding in your ‘healthy’ ice cream??

 

 

 

 

 

With Summer here (well, one or two days of it ha!) we all enjoy a little Ice cream treat, with many commercial companies offering ‘light’ or ‘diet’ varieties aimed at the weight loss troupes.  But how do we know which ones are the healthiest?  Let’s have a look at the content of three different types:

Weight Watchers Vanilla Ice Cream

Weight watchers products are aimed at the weight loss conscious – you see the brand & automatically assume this is a healthier option. But is it really? Let’s look further at the ingredients in detail:

Milk – one of the main allergens in western society, & blamed for contributing to a whole host of medical issues such as leaky gut syndrome & auto immune disorders. Check out one of my favorite bloggers The Paleo Mom here who goes into much further detail.

Skimmed milk – see above, dairy without the beneficial fat!

Sugar – heavily processed & with ZERO nutritional value to us. Causes peaks in G.I. which can lead to diabetes & heart disease in excessive amounts. We have to make the assumption here they have used refined white everyday sugar.

Polydextrose – an indigestible synthetic form of fibre – yes, manmade, fake!

Maltodextrin – an artificial substance usually made from either corn or rice, which gives fat-like body to food products, increases their shelf life, & mixes quite well with other ingredients. It’s also cheap to make & produce. Though not a sugar, it still has a glycemic index of 130 by itself (table sugar is only 65). So unless you are burning off this high G.I. immediately with some intense physical activity, any excess will be turned into fat & stored in the body! So this is a clever way of Weight Watchers getting more sugar into you! & a fake one at that!

Cellulose gel – acts as an emulsion to hold ingredients together, usually made from wood pulp or cotton, & the cheap filler is stuffed into shredded cheese, salad dressing, & ice cream to thicken it without adding calories or fat. It’s also added to shampoo, lovely!

Mono & Diglycerides – are common food additives (E471) used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil & water, which would not otherwise blend well, thus extending shelf life.  The values given in the nutritional labels for total fat, saturated fat, & trans fat do not tend to include those present in mono & diglycerides.  Mono & diglycerides can be made either from animal, vegetable or even synthetically produced, but we have no way of knowing which type Weight Watchers are using.  Also the chemicals used in manufacturing these additives may well still appear in the finished product.

Cellulose gum – see Cellulose gel

Natural flavor – but what are they & where do they come from?? Are they from organic source without pesticides?

Vanilla extract – a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin, however, this version is very unlikely to be the ‘pure’ variety, so who knows what nasties it may contain.

Artificial vanilla flavor – well the name says it all – artificial, fake, & manmade!

Carrageenan – has ZERO nutritional value, added to many low fat processed foods to make them thicker & fuller. Some research has a shown a concerning connection between carrageenan & gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, & current research is underway investigating its link with ulcerative colitis & other diseases like diabetes. Read here for more nasties on this ‘natural’ product!

Polysorbate 80 – another binder that’s found not only in food, but medicines & cosmetics too. When tested on animals, this substance was found to cause adverse reproductive effects, cancer & may affect genetic material. Sound like something you want to put into your body?

Vitamin A palmitate – a synthetic version of the essential nutrient vitamin A – yes, another fake!

Is this ‘healthy’ marketed ice cream still sounding like a delicious treat that you want to put into your body?  Didn’t think so!  It’s that clever old marketing machine trying to fool us into believing products from a commercial weight loss programme are healthy for us, when clearly the ingredients can be very harmful indeed!

 

So, now let’s look at an alternative ice cream; Bessant & Drury’s Vanilla Ice Cream.  I have purposely chosen to compare Weight Watchers ice cream to another manufactured shop bought ice cream to make the comparison fair when it comes to shelf life etc.  Let’s see how they compare on ingredients:

Coconut Milk –is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut. Coconut is often referred to as The Tree of Life’, due to its many health benefits – check them out here! Coconut has actually been found to aid weight loss, how brilliant is that!

Concentrated apple juice – high concentrations of vitamins & minerals, ASLONG as its 100% from concentrate with no sugars or additives added. However it’s unlikely to contain much fibre.

Glucose – a sugar found in plants & is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Not actually required by our bodies in this form, other forms of carbohydrates can be converted in the body & used instead.

Sugar – ZERO nutritional value, our bodies have zero need for it! Again, causes peaks in G.I. which can lead to diabetes & heart disease in excessive amounts. We have to make the assumption here they have used refined white everyday sugar.

Chicory root –works well as a replacement for fat & sugar, & also contains a decent level of fibre. It also contains Inulin which prevents constipation, helps maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the colon, & helps lower cholesterol levels. High amounts however, can cause gas/bloating, nausea, flatulence, stomach cramping, diarrhoea, & constipation. Moderation is the key with this one.

Xanthan Gum – is a form of carbohydrate made by fermenting corn sugar with bacteria, used to bind substances together & reduce ice crystals in ice cream. Corn sugar isn’t a great form of sugar, & is now being linked to a whole host of health conditions such as diabetes & liver damage.

Natural Vanilla Extract –a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin.

Vanilla Pods – contain the seeds from the vanilla orchid plant. These are a good, quality ingredient, even better if organic. Some have linked vanilla as being a sexual stimulant!

Vanilla Flavour – where do they come from?? Are they from organic source without pesticides?

 

In comparison the Weight Watchers ice cream contains a whopping 15 ingredients, many of which are artificial & pose numerous health risks, whereas the Bessant & Drury’s contains just 9, many of which are not too bad.  Bessant & Drury’s ingredients are certainly much more natural & quality ingredients than the Weight Watchers version, with the added benefit of coconut milk to aid weight loss amongst its many health benefits.

 

BUT, if you really fancy an even healthier option, then try making your own!  This is one of my favourite recipes – just 6 totally natural ingredients (make sure you use raw, organic produce though to get the best health benefits!):

 

Raw Almonds – a brilliant source of protein & healthy essential fats that not only aid weight loss but have many other amazing qualities too!

Shredded Unsweetened Coconut– we have already covered above, it has many healing properties & aids weight loss too!

Madagascar Vanilla Bean – a great quality ingredient, use organic of course for the best benefits.

Egg yolks – high in protein, organic ones are great as no nasty hormones have been added.

Honey – use raw honey like Manuka, due to all its healing health benefits.

Water – Nothing too suspicious about that! Try filtered waster if you really want a health boost.

 

But this comparison isn’t just about ice cream, I will be honest!  Did you see the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on Weight Watchers – How They Make Their Millions?  I did & it was quite an eye opener!  Yes, they remove some fat or sugar from their products, but they then replace them with a whole host of un-pronounceable artificial nasties that can be damaging to our health (as we found above!).

 

 So, before you rush out to the freezer department of the local supermarket, don’t always assume the ‘light’ & ‘diet’ options are actually the healthiest!   Remember, natural organic ingredients are by far healthier & safer in the long term, EVEN if they are full-fat versions!

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Does Stress Cause Cancer?

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We all know stress is bad for us.  It makes us feel on edge, become irrational perhaps, affects our sleep and mood, along with causing physical symptoms such as stomach upsets.  But have you ever thought about the damage long-term stress can have on your body?

When stress first occurs, Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is released into the blood from the tiny pituitary gland found at the base of the brain.  When the hormones reach the adrenals (two small glands above the kidneys), it causes their cortex to produce cortisone and other messengers. It’s these adrenal cortex hormones that quickly prepare us to meet the emergency facing us.

Next, protein is drawn away from the thymus and lymph glands and converted into sugar for instant energy, causing a sudden rush in blood sugars. Any other sugars stored in the liver as starch or glycogen can also be instantly converted into energy if needed.  Our blood pressure then increases; minerals are taken from the bones; fat stores are moved; and high amounts of salt are retained.  This is known as the ‘alarm reaction’ and commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response; our bodies are preparing to battle danger or flee from it.

If stress continues past this point, the body attempts to repair itself, often referred to as the ‘stage of resistance.’  However, when stress is continuous over a prolonged period of time, it can make repair extremely difficult, leaving your body a target for disease; such as cancer for example.

Now, we are not saying that stress causes cancer directly.  BUT if cancer rates are increased by physical carcinogens in our environment, sure the psychosocial carcinogens (i.e. stress) must have an impact too?

Dr Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P. President, The American Institute of Stress says; “What determines resistance or susceptibility to cancer? Behavioral factors and inappropriate responses to stress must also be considered along with genetic factors in attempting to understand why some individuals develop cancer.”  Dr Rosch also goes onto say; “Impaired host resistance due to disturbances in immune system function seem to be an important factor.”

So whilst cancer may not be solely attributed to stress alone; it can and does have a very significant effect upon a person’s susceptibility to the disease; the rate in which it progresses; and ultimately the recovery success too.

Finding ways to manage the external stresses thrust upon us is therefore essential in building our resistance to disease.

So, here are some of my top suggestions for keeping a calmer balance to your life:

  • Good balanced nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Laughter
  • Dancing (you know me, any excuse!)
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness thinking
  • Relaxation techniques
  • ‘Tapping’ (aka Emotional Freedom Technique)

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Want to Heal Your Brain? Get the Music On!

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We all have favourite songs right?  Ones that make us smile, sing, dance, play air drums and have the kids rolling their eyes??  The happiness surge we feel when a certain ‘tune’ comes on is caused by our wonderful brains releasing Oxytocin and Dopamine – the ‘love’ and ‘pleasure’ hormones.

Now unless you are listening to music that evokes certain negative feelings or anxiety; or you suffer from an extremely rare form of seizures known as Musicogenic Epilepsy, then music can be one of the BEST forms of ‘medicine’ for the brain!

In Germany for example, music therapy is used as an integral part of the rehabilitation process for people who have had strokes, brain surgery or traumatic brain injuries, by allowing the brain to form new pathways to help restore memories.  Music is also becoming more prominent in helping those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to reconnect with the world around them.

The beneficial use of music is further supported by The American Music Therapy Association who report patients using it to effectively manage stress.  Whilst a study published in The Lancet found that “people who listened to music before, during, or after surgery experienced less pain and anxiety, compared to patients who did not.”  The music listeners also didn’t even need as much pain medication.  Pretty amazing stuff ‘eh!

Dr. Jonathan Burdette expands this further by saying, “In some cases, you might not even like the particular song, but you like the memories or feelings that you associate with it.”

So what songs evoke fond memories for you?  Here are a few of mine!

 

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Energy Drinks – The Lurking Monster?

There isn’t a morning that passes that we don’t see somebody walking or driving along (usually looking quite stressed!) whilst drinking ones of these bad boys.  These brightly-coloured canned drinks promise to “get you up to speed in a hurry!” or “give you wings!”  But is this all they are giving you?  And are they giving it to us in a healthy sustained manner?

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The daily recommended maximum intake of caffeine is 200mg; so that is equivalent to around two mugs or four cups of coffee per day – MAXIMUM.  However just one serving of energy drink can contain anything between 80mg & an astonishing 240mg!!!  And that is even before you add in the copious amounts of coffee (usually with added sugar!) these people tend to also consume throughout the day in a bid to try and sustain that sudden burst of energy they have obtained from their canned friend.

But it’s not just the caffeine we need to be worried about with these energy drinks; but also the sugar, artificial sweeteners and all the other not so lovely scary ingredients – all bringing their own individual side effects!

So, what are the collective side effects of energy drinks?

 

  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremours
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Paraesthesia (tingling or numbing of the skin)
  • Insomnia
  • Respiratory distress
  • Headache
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Increase urination
  • Breast shrinkage in females
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay
  • Increases risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Unstable insulin levels

WOW!  Are those brightly-coloured convenient cans right by the cash desk looking so irresistible now?? 

 monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

One Down….

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Well, that’s the first official day of the Summer holidays over!  How did you do mums??  Did your day resemble this video below by any chance?!?!?

Or was it more like this…….

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For us our day went a little like this:

6:17am: Wake up
Tantrums.
Babies bickering.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Breakfast.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Get us all dressed.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Watched Planet of the Apes 3 at the cinema which was actually quite good (forgot the 3D glasses so now have an extra 3 pairs to add to the billion others in the drawer of crap!)
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Endured a grumpy person.
Babies collected for a few hours (yes, this is the FIRST time in TWO years that I have arranged having small breaks during the Summer holidays!)
Quick lunch & work emails.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Childfree trip to the gym where I snorted out a massive laugh watching this video whilst on the treadmill (WARNING, not for the easily offended ha!)
Childfree swim.  Bliss.
Had an allergic reaction to something.
Collected some parcels (new camping equipment, yay!)
Got harassed on Gumtree messages by somebody called ‘Jade.’
Home for DIY.  Realised I got wrong screws.  Bugger.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Collected babies; one happy; one sad. *sigh*
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Medical appointment for one of the said babies.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Back home for tea.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Babies up to bed.
Told how much they love me and missed me today. *awwww* 
Lovely cuddles and kisses with my babies.
Housework.
“Mummy I want a poo poo.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
8:23pm: I start work for the evening when I should actually be preparing for a hospital trip to London in the morning. Bugger.

Sound familiar ladies???

One day down.  43 to go!

cheers

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©