Boosting the immune system is helpful for more reasons than you may think. When we take steps to fire up our immune system, our bodies become better equipped to prevent disease, fight off viruses, and combat cancer cells. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pellegrino Healing Center & Pellegrino Integrative Cancer Center would like to highlight some activities and services that can be extremely helpful for supporting the immune system and helping breast cancer patients, both active and in remission.
Exercise & Eat Well
Many breast cancer patients find themselves hesitant to move or too tired to exercise while they are going through their cancer journey. The American College of Sports Medicine reviewed the available research and concluded that exercise is safe during and after all breast cancer treatments (as long as you take any needed precautions and keep the intensity low) and improves physical functioning, quality of life, and cancer-related fatigue. There is also evidence that exercise can help breast cancer survivors live longer and lead a more active life. See types of safe and fun exercise here.
"Exercise can also lower the risk of breast cancer coming back.... as well as help you maintain a healthy weight, ease treatment side effects, boost your energy, and more.
Eating well may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be challenging to eat well especially if you aren’t up for cooking for yourself during treatment. Fortunately, there are all sorts of easy-to-make healthy foods that you can munch on. Gear your diet towards the whole, nutrient-dense foods and away from processed foods and vegetable oils (do not eat canola oil, soybean oil, Pam Spray, Smart Balance, margarine, etc). Communicating your need for healthy foods to the friends and caretakers who want to help cook for you may be key in getting all of the delicious and nutritious food that will help your immune system. Sharing recipes is a nice way to make suggestions. You can check out some of our Health & Lifestyle coach Debbie Justs, CHC, AADP healthy recipes on our website.
To learn more about healthy, cancer-fighting foods, read our blog:
If you need additional support, schedule a session with our Health & Lifestyle Coach Debbie Justs, CHC, AADP. Debbie is a cancer survivor herself who has used the power of food to combat her cancer. Debbie helps guide her clients away from processed foods and towards whole and nutritious foods that are healing and restorative to the body.
IV Vitamin Infusions
While diet and exercise are essential to supporting the immune system and combating cancer, sometimes our bodies need some extra help. IV therapy can remedy cancer treatment side effects and boost vitamin and nutrient reserves within our bodies, including vitamin C, zinc, and selenium. According to the National Cancer Institute, a growing number of preclinical studies are showing how high-dose, intravenous (IV) vitamin C can benefit cancer patients. When you receive an IV, as opposed to vitamins orally, your body is able to absorb and utilize those vitamins much more efficiently. In fact, vitamins delivered intravenously, allow the absorption of 99.9% of vitamins, delivering them straight into your bloodstream for maximum impact, compared to the 8% absorption that oral tablet forms deliver. IV vitamin infusions are an incredible way to reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and help your body kick cancer.
Unsure which IV Vitamin Infusion is right for you?
We offer a Custom IV Infusion consultation with Dr. Diana Silverman, so that you can get a custom blend of vitamins based on your unique body, medical history, and symptoms.
Stress Relief Activities
Unfortunately, when stress is not addressed, it can do quite a number on our immune system, leaving us susceptible to disease and impacting our cellular health. When we are chronically stressed, our important bodily functions are put on the back burner because our body believes it needs to put all of its energy towards “fight or flight mode”(sympathetic state of the nervous system) and away from “rest and digest mode” (parasympathetic state of the nervous system). When we are in fight or flight mode, our body focuses on running away or fighting, instead of healing the body from diseases like cancer. Fortunately, when we practice stress management techniques like meditation and breathwork, we can literally communicate with our bodies, telling them to shift from fight or flight mode to rest and digest mode. When our body is in rest and digest mode our digestive system, reproductive system, and overall immune system perform optimally.
The growing research outlining the benefits of meditation and breathwork is profound. For example, breathwork alone not only aids your immune system by helping the body shift into rest and digest mode, but also boosts your immune system by bringing more oxygen to the blood, lowering your blood pressure, clearing debris from your respiratory tract, and lowering cortisol. Meditation is a powerful tool that helps the mind make this shift into rest and digest mode, as well as address a number of emotional issues that hinder the body from healing. More and more cancer patients, both active and in remission are utilizing meditation and breathwork to help their immune systems combat the disease, help relieve symptoms, and overcome emotional barriers.
For help on dealing with chronic stress, read our blog:
Our meditation & breathwork sessions with Michelle provide an elevated experience. Sessions take place in our antimicrobial Himalayan Salt Cave and include halotherapy, a form of salt therapy, where you breathe in the specialized, crystalized salt. Halotherapy helps reduce stress and boost the immune system.
Learn more about Meditation & Breathwork Sessions.
Integrative medicine is the future of successful healthcare,* and acupuncture is an effective treatment for many conditions.
According to the peer-reviewed journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "More and more research has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and antistress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects. This may be the basis of acupuncture in preventing and treating later diseases.”
Acupuncture is known to stimulate and balance the immune system, reduce symptoms, speed up the healing process, and regulate the immune response system by increasing the amount of your body’s immune cells, such as the red blood cells, white blood cells, and T-cells. Acupuncture is also an extremely relaxing, stress-busting experience that can help the body process cancer treatments and address other imbalances in the body to help you feel stronger and give you more relief from pain, nausea, and fatigue.
Our lead acupuncturist Christine Pellegrino, M.S., L.Ac, has cancer-specific training and certifications from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Through training from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Integrative Medicine program, Pellegrino Integrative Cancer Center offers cancer patients symptom management and pain relief through natural therapies that coincide with your cancer care plan. Our team offers patients scientifically-tested methods to care for cancer pain, fatigue, hot flashes, neuropathy, and more. We have a solid knowledge base of cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and herb-drug interactions. We have also received advanced education on the management of lymphoma and leukemia, as well as cancer of the breast, colon and rectum, lung, prostate, and other parts of the body.
Oncology Acupuncture: From Neuroscience to Patient Wellbeing
Fundamentals of Oncology Acupuncture
Herbs & Dietary Supplements in Cancer Care
Fundamentals of Integrative Oncology