Nutrition notes: Chia gems of healthy goodness

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Chia Seeds on a wooden spoon

Editor note: This is the first in an occasional series of blog features that will focus on health and wellness as it relates to cancer care and healthy living.

Those little black crunchy seeds seem to be everywhere, and unlike some dietary fads, there’s good reason. They really pack a nutritional punch!

Chia seeds come from a common garden plant known also as salvia and a member of the mint family. They’re a much more familiar dietary staple in South and Central American countries, but have migrated north as an up-and-coming health food product. Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which carry out a variety of important functions such as lowering triglycerides, reducing inflammation and improving brain function. Chia seeds also aid digestion, they’re gluten- and grain-free for those with sensitivity, and they’re a good source of magnesium, important for a range of bodily functions from DNA synthesis to muscle performance.

One tablespoon has an impressive 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein plus 3 grams of that good fat and just 5 carbohydrates.

So, what to do with these tiny, crunchy gems? Just add chia. Sprinkle on your morning oatmeal, mix in a whole fruit smoothie, shake onto a salad or sandwich for lunch. Keep a bag of chia seeds in your purse or car so they’re handy when you’re eating out or on the run.

If you want to expand your options, try these easy, go-to recipes. Do you have your own favorite Chia Seed Recipe? Let us know at welisten@provisionproton.com and we will post it on our blog!

Sprouted Chia for Salads

Add chia seeds to water, drain the water off and leave in a jar for a couple of days. Every 12 hours or so, rinse with water and pour off. In a day or two, you’ll have chia sprouts.

 

Homemade Energy Gel

To make this healthy version, add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. Let sit for 10 minutes, and you’re good to go!

 

Chia Pudding

2 cups coconut milk or other milk

½ cup chia seeds

2-3 Tbs. cocoa powder (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. or more sweetener of choice (optional—I use a few drops of stevia extract)

Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Flavor variations: Substitute 1 cup strawberries for vanilla and cocoa or add cinnamon and nutmeg for a Chai chia pudding.

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Provision Focuses on More Than Just Treatment

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One of the unique aspects of Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the Culture of Care that patients experience as well as the wholistic approach to offered to each patient. One aspect of that is nourishing and healing the body through exercise and nutrition.  Patients and family members of patients are encouraged to take advantage of the comprehensive wellness center located on the Dowell Springs campus right across the street from Provision Center for Proton Therapy.  Patients undergoing proton therapy treatments, and their family members, can have access to Provision Health & Performance for only $10 per week while the patient is undergoing treatment. The center offers personal training, fitness classes, nutritional counseling and physical therapy.  Incorporating fitness and good nutrition while undergoing treatment is an important component of the treatment and healing process.

Nutrition

Eating well is very important for patients diagnosed with cancer and under cancer treatment.  Balance and moderation in the nutrients consumed as well as meal / snack timing is necessary to:

•             maintain strength and energy level

•             prevent wasting of body tissue / muscle mass

•             lower the risk of infections

•             repair / recover faster

The four main nutritional goals for cancer patients include:

•             Strive to maintain a healthy weight

•             Consume foods and beverages for managing cancer and treatment-related side effects

•             Select and eat healthy foods that supply the body with fuel and nutrients for repair and healing

•             Reduce risk of cancer recurrence and the development of a second malignancy

 

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help you maintain muscle mass, muscle strength and bone strength, reduce depression, stress, fatigue, nausea and constipation, and improve appetite.   Energy levels vary depending on the type of cancer, stage of cancer and type of treatment.   Therefore, the amount and type of physical activity can vary greatly from one person to another.  A realistic goal for physical activity is one that is individualized and may change from one day to the next.  Ideally, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, like walking, each week.  Rest when you need to.  If 150 minutes seems too much, that is ok.  Now is not the time to push yourself to exercise.  Even small amounts of movement are beneficial.  The beautiful Dowell Springs campus is home to a scenic 2-mile walking trail that meanders by waterfalls and breathtaking natural landscaping.  A daily walk on the trail is a perfect way to get some exercise and enjoy the peaceful beauty of our campus.

For more information on the services offered at Provision Health & Performance call (865) 232-1414

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Casey Peer is Chief Dietitian at Provision Health and Performance.  To set up a personal nutritional counseling session with Casey, please contact her at (865) 232-1414.