Facebook Chat recap: Lifestyle changes to improve well-being and reduce recurrence

On Thursday, Jan. 24, CURE hosted a Facebook Chat on lifestyle changes after a cancer diagnosis. We thought this would be a good topic for those new year resolutions. We invited Stacy Kennedy, a certified specialist in oncology nutrition, and Russell Kennedy, a behavioral specialist, to answer questions for on improving diet and physical activity. You can view the full chat here with a Facebook account. This topic struck a nerve with our readers. It was one of the most fast-paced and involved chats we've had to date. I'm sure Stacy had finger cramps by the time the hour was up, but she answered most of the questions posed to her during the chat and a few that were emailed and posted ahead of the chat. Here are a few of the questions Stacy answered during the chat:Amy: After chemo/radiation treatment how do I get my energy back?

Stacy: Hi Amy after treatment getting your energy back can take a while. Drinking plenty of water, eating small frequent meals with protein, fruits and veggies and walking can be helpful. But extra rest is important too.Christi: Are organic products truly better for you? Do conventionally grown products really offer less nutrients than organic? I also heard conventionally grown produce is worthless - can this be true?

Stacy: Hi Christi, organic foods can be tricky to figure out. Have you seen the Dirty Dozen list? www.ewg.org for the 12 fruits and veggies most likely to carry a lot of pesticides you may want to choose organic. Eating what's in season and local is most important for overall health. Conventional fruits and veggies are not worthless at all! In fact most of the research showing that fruits and veggies promote survivorship are in people eating conventional produce. Wash everything well and get local when you can.Julie: I was diagnosed with E+ breast cancer 2 years ago. Are soy and flax seed beneficial or harmful?

Stacy: Hi Julie, with E+ breast cancer it's suggested to consume flax in moderation and avoid processed soy products that use soy protein isolate like nutrition bars, protein powders and fake meats. Natural soy foods in moderation are OK but we suggest organic or non GMO.

CURE: We also wrote about soy in 2009: Soy Story.Tammy: I have heard that I shouldn't eat fresh fruit or veggies because of possible I guess pesticides on them. Is this a problem that can be fixed I wash it but is that enough?

Stacy: Hi Tammy, washing produce with running water or a home remedy of lemon, baking soda, vinegar and water can be very helpful for removing pesticides. Remember eating fruits/veggies is more important for health than avoiding them due to concern over pesticides. Look into a CSA for local produce at www.localharvest.orgAmy: I cannot exercise other than walk because I get out of breath too easily from the damage done to my lungs during radiation. I am 90% vegetarian ( I eat chicken breast) and water is probably an issue for me since I don't like it...I do drink unsweetened green tea quite a bit.

Stacy: Hi Amy, walking counts as exercise!!! Aim for at least 3-5 hours a weekTerri: I am in-between reconstruction surgeries. It seems like I just start getting back to the health club and I have another surgery that sets me back. Any advice on what I can do for fitness between surgeries until I am finished with them all?

Stacy: Hi Terri - walking is probably your best bet between surgeries. Also, you can find a personal trainer or instructor who is certified to work with cancer survivors. Go to www.acsm.org or look for the Pink Program or Livestrong programs at the Y for more specific recommendationsNancy: Re: vitamin d3. Can you OD on it? (It being fat soluable) I'm not due for blood work till May and am concerned with that.

Stacy: Hi Nancy - yes you can get too much Vitamin D! 5,000 is considered the daily upper limit but this is generally too high of a daily dose for most people. 1000-2000 IU is generally safe. How much are you taking now? What was your last blood test?Connie: I have CML and have absorption issues, what foods or practice can assist me.

Stacy: Hi Connie, for absorption issues try cooked veggies like roasted or in soups, smoothies using fruits without seeds and juicing are all ways to get more fruits and veggies in. Also, eat small meals often throughout the day to help boost absorption - a big meal is a big trigger for malabsorption or diarrhea in your case.Candace: Is it true that most fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients when eaten raw except for tomatoes which are more nutritious cooked?

Stacy: Hi Candace, both cooked and raw veggies offer benefit. The lycopene in tomato is more available to the body when cooked and the Vitamin C is more available when raw. There are others though - like Vitamin K or iron content which can be higher when a veggie is cooked. So eat both cooked and raw for maximum benefit and when cooking steam, stir fry or roast over boiling and of course frying.