Nic Naish: Setting the record straight when it comes to nutrition

I don't know about you, but I'm hooked on the Olympic Games of an evening. I didn't think we could better our home games of 2012 and I still get a warm glow remembering how proud I was to be of the host nation. 'We' did a fantastic job...(using the 'royal we' there!) As a sports lover, 2012 was a fantastic year to be British and at a time when I was actively using sport as rehabilitation after my cancer, I was hugely motivated by our country’s athletes.

Last night, as I repeatedly went from the edge of my seat to being hugely relieved (on the whole), I noticed how many of our superstars thanked the 'behind the scenes' crew for their success. Many of them personally giving credit to their nutritionists. Yay!!

Can you imagine the balance required...to push your body to an absolute peak of it's potential; to reduce the risk of injury or illness at the same time; to know that your body will do what you ask of it without question: and control all this to happen during a certain month of a certain year. Truly amazing. The ability to fine tune this peak of health and athleticism is a science in it's own right.

Now I know we're not Olympians, but the same rules apply to us too. What you put in your body affects the performance of your body, it’s as simple as that.

Nutritional therapists work alongside conventional practitioners. They do not, (should not) make diagnoses. Their role is to listen to an individual and analyse through many strategies and tests, where and why symptoms are occurring. If a nutritional therapists detects or suspects a certain condition they should advise the client to go to their GP with this information.

Our wonderful NHS can provide excellent quality diagnostic tests and no-one should be paying a fortune for high quality supplements, or eliminating whole food groups without sound professional advice. Some GPs welcome the input of alternative and complementary therapists more than others but, as the patient, you have the right to seek the advice and combinations of treatment that you have faith in.

So going back to my marvels at our athletes peak of health at an allotted time, as cancer survivors we too can take control of our bodies, well at least what we choose to put into them.

A sports scientist or nutritionist will understand the extreme fatigue that a harsh training programme will cause; the hormones that are released and the macro- and micro-nutrients needed to fuel such exertion and subsequent recovery. Likewise a nutritionist can work alongside an oncologist to help reset the natural balance of the body. They can advise how to restore low levels of minerals, how to build up muscle mass safely, combat fatigue through diet and exercise and counter the effects of steroids and pain-killers etc.

If you are a cancer patient/survivor consider nutritional therapy. Far from quackery, a good nutritional therapist will have the time and knowledge to understand you as a whole.

So, as I didn't give you any recipes or food ideas last week here are some snack suggestions for those evenings watching the Olympics....so you can feel equally virtuous and dedicated!

  • Apple halves filled with peanut butter

  • Oat cakes with a tiny bit of cottage cheese

  • Carrot sticks and  hummus

  • Home-made raita using Greek yoghurt, cucumber, pepper, fresh coriander and chilli to taste.

All washed down with a glass of mineral water, in a posh glass with a slice!

Have fun taking control of one very important element of your health!

Nic x

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