Research Shows Benefits of Gardening in Cancer Survivors
It is often common for cancer survivors to have poor nutrition because of treatment side effects, poor diet patterns, or even adopting unproven nutrition practices. However, nutrition plays an important role in overall health. The lack of nutritious food can be detrimental to one’s health especially when immunity is low. A six-month multifaceted program known as “Growing Hope,” based out of Ohio State University showed survivors how to achieve optimal health through nutrition through gardening. Participants harvested an urban garden. And, through group education classes, they learned about gardening, cooking, and nutrition.
The study was small with only 22 participants, but the results showed improvements in nutrition. The consumption of fruits and vegetables increased, red meat consumption decreased, and intake of sugar-sweetened beverages decreased. Skin carotenoid levels increased and fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels improved. A larger study may show more conclusive results, but the small study is a great start! Taking part in growing food has benefits nutritionally, economically, and environmentally.
Could this be done in your community? Could you start a garden with your friends, fellow cancer survivors, or family? Not only could it improve your cancer outcomes, it could also improve your overall health. Planting and tending to a garden is an empowering and beneficial to health. Tending to a garden also provides a form of physical activity that can benefit all individuals. A lot of cities have community or shared gardens, which could be an easy way for you to start gardening! Seek out nutrition advice from a registered dietitian and try a cooking class to keep learning more about food and nutrition!
Kristen Edmonson, Senior Student in the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics
Source: Spees, C., Hill, E., White, S., Grainger, E., Kleinhenz, M., Buell, J., & Clinton, S. (2015). Growing Hope: A Comprehensive Garden-Based Health and Nutrition Education Program for Cancer Survivors. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, (9), doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.317