The image above depicts the Terrain Ten, and the image was created by the Oncology Nutrition Institute, where I received my Oncology Nutrition Consultant certification.
As a Functional Nutritionist and Oncology Nutrition Consultant, I approach cancer with an integrative mindset. Just like the world of nutrition, there are really two main ways to approach health. One is a very narrowed, focused lens. In nutrition, some focus on, for example, Insulin Resistance. The traditional western view is to make moderate diet changes, such as recommending the Mediterranean Diet, perhaps working with a physician for a prescription for Metformin, etc.
As a Functional Nutritionist, I want to look at WHY the insulin resistance is happening from a holistic, or systemic view point. Maybe it’s because the liver is struggling to support sugar conversions. Maybe it’s because of inflammation. I aim to focus on the body as a whole, and giving it an ideal balance. My approach to cancer is the same way. Where traditional cancer treatments may focus on chemotherapy, surgery, even radiation, they target a SPECIFIC area, such as the thyroid for thyroid cancer. From a holistic (or systems/terrain) perspective, I focus on recommendations that help support areas that are out of balance.
Through a terrain based approach, you’ll see benefits such as bioindividuality - every suggestion is custom tailored to you based on your symptoms and indications for nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. It also allows for support in combination with conventional treatments, so you don’t have to pick one or the other. Additionally, some clients have received a cancer diagnosis from a physician, but a tumor hasn’t been located - in this case, we can still address the terrain imbalances to encourage the body to naturally heal itself. Further testing such as urine or blood testing can be self-requested or ordered by your physician to give us even more data to work with.
So what exactly does “terrain” mean? Well, in my training with Oncology Nutrition Institute, I learned about the “Terrain Ten”, pictured above. These ten areas are linked to different types of cancer. With these Ten Terrain, we consider what to: Eliminate, Improve with Nutrition, adjust via Lifestyle, Supplements to be considered, and as needed, additional support.
If we were to examine, for example, Thyroid Cancer, which is near and dear to my heart, one of the key terrains tied to Thyroid Cancer is Environmental Toxins & Detox. Though all assessments are bioindividually based as mentioned above, we would want to assess exposure to chemicals. That exposure could be through work, radiation, through home skincare and body products or cosmetics, through food, through cleaning products, or a variety of other exposures. Through aiming to reduce and preferably eliminate toxic chemicals, the body can begin to function at a healthier level. We would also of course want to look at transitioning to organic and nutrient dense foods if not already consuming nutrient dense, properly prepared, organic food, assess for adequate hydration levels, and continue to support the body and the liver as it works to remove those toxins. Certain additional methods may include things like infrared sauna to further encourage the body into a healthy detox state.
This is just one example of how the terrain, or system-based, approach can work to support your body to come into homeostasis, or balance, to adequately support you through your healing journey.