Boost Your Breast Health
By: Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. An estimated 26,300 Canadian women and 230 men will be diagnosed this year. That’s 72 women every day.
I wrote this blog to help you take charge of the things you CAN control! Let’s get started!
Eat Clean Food!
Did you know that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are carcinogenic?
You can limit your exposure by investing in organic produce when picking foods that have the highest pesticide content. For more information on this check out the Environmental Working Group 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. This is a quick guide on when to invent in organic and when you can get away with regular produce.
Fruit and Vegetables
Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit has been linked to decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit, 4-6 servings of vegetables and 7 or more servings of other plant foods like whole grains, beans, peas and roots. It’s also important to get variety. Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the blood, thereby decreasing risk for breast cancer. Colourful berries contain ellagic acid – a compound that actually blocks the growth of cancer cells. Members of the cabbage family contain indole-3-carbinol – an important ingredient for managing estrogen in the body.
Filtering your tap water can also help to maintain healthy breasts. Chlorine has been suggested as a cause of 1-2% of cancers in Canada and a simple Brita filter will remove 99% of this chemical!
Pump Up Protein
For protein, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish. These contain healthy fats – omega 3 and 9. Ideally these should be free-range, organic or wild caught. Red meat isn’t totally off the table when it comes to reducing risk for breast health. BUT, it’s important to buy grass-fed, organic beef. Red meat animals are particularly good at concentrating pesticides and herbicides from their feed. This is stored in the saturated fat in the meat we consume.
I’m sure most of you already know that keeping sugar to a minimum is beneficial for your health – this habit helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease. Diets high in processed foods dump sugar into the blood stream following a meal. The liver responds by releasing insulin-like growth factors which makes cells double and are major stimulators for cancer growth and spread. Instead of reaching for after dinner cake and cookies, try fresh berries and coconut whipped cream. This delicious alternative will help curb the sugar cravings and is so delicious you won’t feel deprived.
Revitalize Your Lifestyle
Try a few different activities and then pick one you really enjoy and can stick with! The best outcomes for breast cancer prevention are seen with 60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, but benefits are seen with just 30 minutes of brisk walking daily. This simple strategy decreases risk of developing breast cancer by 18%!
Women's bodies process alcohol differently than men's, and therefore women should keep consumption to a minimum – no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. Research demonstrates that daily consumption of 2-3 drinks results in an increased risk of breast cancer of 43%.
Chemicals at Home
Try making your own cleaners and stick to personal care products that don’t contain parabens, phthalates or sulfates. These chemicals build up in fat tissue (including the breasts) and have been shown to be carcinogenic. Chemical-free products are available at health food stores and your skin will thank you for investing in healthier options! Better yet – try making your own!
Stress management, like exercise, comes in many forms. It is important you pick a system that resonates with you, that brings you peace, and that is something you could stick with every day.
We can predict cancer risk by assessing whether a person skips breakfast, eats between meals and has irregular hours of sleep. The extent to which this impacts development of cancer remains unknown, but there is no question that factor represents a level of chaos in daily life. Chaos adds stress physically and mentally, so it is important not to allow this into your life or manage it when it creeps in!
Some people need more help with developing a stress management practice - be patient with yourself! This takes time to become routine.
If you’re in the Guelph area and would like to sit down with me to chat about breast health – check out our online booking site!