What does your diet and nutrition have to do with disease prevention?
We are all driven by early detection practices to find cancer and other disease states. The search for finding out what is wrong so that one can begin treatment earlier rather than later seems to be the trend. This is intertwined with the concept of saving one’s life.
Can you imagine for a moment if the same energy and effort was put into educating people on the lifestyle opportunities that one must take to prevent a disease state. In addition, educating the public on the overuse of pesticides and chemicals that are used as well as the pharmaceuticals that are marketed to cure the very disease that the same company is causing with their manufacturing practices of chemicals.
What if we had the knowledge and eliminated the fear? What if we could get started on a path that gives us the confidence and freedom to make choices and have the awareness of what is true and not true.
The good news is that people are becoming more aware and taking more responsibilities for their health and happiness. This is now being supported by both researcher and interest groups who are starting to speak out against the overuse of drugs, chemicals and pollution escalating in our environment. For the purpose of this blog I will focus on Cancer.
Cancer Prevention Begins With Lifestyle Choices
Routine procedures that we are advised to do at certain ages are portrayed as the best form of “prevention” a person can get. But early diagnosis is not the same as prevention. I believe the vast majority of all diseases including cancers could be prevented by following some basic mind and body strategies, that provide a nourishing and rejuvenating environment. Here is a list that I have come up with from Feeling Good Matters.
- Eat real food; avoid processed foods and sugars, especially processed high fructose corn syrup. Sugar in its unatural state can be detrimental to health in general and may feed cancer cells especially a “fast growing” type of cell.
- Stop eating AT LEAST three hours before going to bed. I have been advocating the overnight fast for years. There compelling evidence showing that when you supply fuel to your cells at a time when they don’t need it, they won’t have time to do their housecleaning duties. On the contrary, a large number of electrons will liberate reactive oxygen species (free radicals), which damage mitochondrial and eventually nuclear DNA. Personally, I strive for 4-6 hours of fasting before bedtime.
- Optimize your vitamin D. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters according to some research. Research has shown that Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I’m aware of, with no adverse effects, but always check with your healthcare provider. A 2013 review of many studies found that post-menopausal women with low levels of vitamin D had a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to post-menopausal women with high levels of vitamin D.Bauer, S.R., Hankinson, S.E., Bertone-Johnson, E.R., et al. Plasma vitamin D levels, menopause, and risk of breast cancer: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Medicine 2013;92:123-131.
- Limit or avoid animal protein. The slaughtering of animals cannot support a healthy environment and studies have shown that countries with the most animal consumption suffer from more cancers and diseases of the bowel.
- Include fermented products in your diet. Fermented products feed and nourish our gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gut that keep us healthy and well). This is especially important for women when estrogen levels decline.
- Improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding simple sugars and starches and getting your carbohydrates from complex grains and fibrous vegetables. Also including cardiovascular training and exercise to your routine.
- Exercise regularly. You have heard this time and time again but it is necessary to keep this one on our list. One of the primary reasons movement or exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce some cancer risks. It’s also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die. Previous studies have also found that having less body fat is healthier, which may be an additional factor. Exercise also helps lower estrogen levels, which maybe helpful in lowering the risk of breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin to work with your diet and nutrition. It’s important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen and stores toxic chemicals that are found in the environment.
- Avoid alcohol or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per week.
- Avoid BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk. They are found in pesticides and some household products.
- Avoid too much roasting and toasting. Acrylamide — a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, or fried — has been found to increase cancer risk as well.
- Meditate. Although there are plenty of studies to show that living a calm and happy existence is healthier than living in stress, one does not need a study to realize this. Just go on a retreat for a few days or weeks and you will feel rejuvenated and refreshed. What I strongly suggest is that everyone get some training and commit to 5 minutes of meditation per day. Pick up a guided meditation to get started if you need support.