(NaturalNews) In an effort to determine the role between gardening and the health of cancer survivors, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) studied both survivors and gardeners, pairing them together and noting the outcomes. (1)
The study, Harvest for Health, concluded that cancer survivors who became involved in gardening were more inclined to eat the fresh foods that were grown in the garden, while also obtaining more physical activity and developing an improved outlook on life. All of these factors play a role in helping those stricken with cancer heal.
Fresh vegetables are important for cancer survivor self-care
Among the top suggestions for cancer survivor self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic, is exercise. (2) The Clinic explains that physical activity reduces anxiety and fatigue, which is common in such individuals, while also improves endurance and self-esteem. Furthermore, the Clinic advises eating a balanced diet that contains "five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day."
The National Cancer Institute suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, contain compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (3)
Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., the associate director for cancer prevention and control in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains that starting a vegetable garden may be the catalyst needed for many cancer survivors to improve their health. "We asked the question: If cancer survivors started a vegetable garden, would they eat more vegetables? We found they not only ate more vegetables, they also got more exercise," she said. "And their physical functioning improved dramatically. (1)"
As for topics such as self-esteem, Demark-Wahnefried acknowledged that it's not simple to measure its tangible benefits from a scientific standpoint. However, she said that the program " . . . seems to be contributing to improved quality of life and self-esteem...helping to produce a sense of peace in the survivors who participate."
One woman who knows all to well about the toll cancer can take on one physically and emotionally is Susan Rossman. In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but, in 2011, she became involved with the Harvest for Health study. She worked with other gardeners and grew foods, such as lettuce, kale and spinach. To this day, she still grows such foods, but has now added blueberries and strawberries to her gardening routine.
"I'm feeling more empowered by what I'm doing here," Rossman said. "When I started gardening, it really brought to my consciousness that this was something I could focus on. It was something I could control so that I didn't think about cancer every day."
About the author: Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.