October is Cancer Awareness Month and I was invited to give a little presentation on nutrition and cancer prevention to female volleyball players at a local high school. I wanted to share my research and findings.
Although I want to make this article positive, I need to mention some stats. They are frightening but at the same time quite empowering so bear with me for the first section.
Over1500 people die each day from cancer.
Evidence from WHO, the Cancer Project and American Institute of Cancer Research suggests that about
33% of cancer deaths are related to high body fat, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
When we factor in tobacco,
nearly 60% of cancer deaths could be prevented.
This is good news!
If we can control those four areas:
tobacco use, body fat, physical activity and nutrition
we could prevent nearly 60% off cancer deaths -
that's 900 lives a day!
Table below summarizes the major areas of our lifestyle and diet that influence cancer promotion (oxidation, inflammation, immune suppression, high blood sugar and stress):
So what can you do to prevent cancer?
Exercise regularly (about 5 hours a week) - avoid over and under exercising.
Maintain an appropriate body fat percentage for your age and gender.
Prioritize getting a good night sleep.
Control stress (manage your sleep routine, add meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, social connections, massages, take vacations, etc.)
Limit alcohol intake or exclude it all together.
Avoid extreme diets and extreme exercise.
Eat minimally processed, non-GMO, organic and/or locally sources foods, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts. Grow your own food if you can.
Moderate dietary fat intake - chose unsaturated fats and omega-3 rich foods (fatty fish, flax, hemp, walnuts, chia seeds, olives, avocado, etc.)
Avoid trans fats at all cost - often used in fast food places, pre-packaged goods such as cakes and cookies.
Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.
Moderate animal food intake especially red meat and dairy.
Avoid processed foods, including those with artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, food colorings, or preservatives.
Avoid using harsh chemicals on your body and in your household (they often contain carcinogens, i.e. harmful substances that promote the development of cancerous cells). Some examples include ingredients commonly found in nail polish, deodorants, hair dyes, laundry detergents and household cleaners, female hygiene products).
Unless you've been diagnosed by a doctor with a particular nutritional deficiency, avoid taking unnecessary supplements and vitamins. They are not evaluated by the FDA therefore their safety and efficiency is doubtful at best.
Additionally, I wanted to share changes I have adopted over the years in my own household to minimize exposure to carcinogens:
I regularly test my drinking water (private well) for harmful minerals, bacterias and chemicals.
I only use biodegradable, non-toxic laundry detergent, hand soaps and dish soaps.
A lot of cleaning in my house is done with vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
I never wash anything plastic or rubber in the dishwasher - even if it's BPA free and/or dishwasher safe.
If my non-stick pots or pans have any scratches I replace them immediately.
I invested in buying stainless steel lunch boxes and glass containers for food storage but I'm still working on completely eliminating plastic in my house.
I truly believe that having a dog makes me happier, less stressed and more relaxed. He also makes me move daily - rain or shine somebody's going to play with him!
If I have an option, I will always go for organic, non-gmo products in any category but especially for corn, wheat, poultry, dairy and general produce.
I started my own garden and I compost. It's a lot of work but it pays off a hundred fold. It's also a great way to relieve stress.
I moderate the amount of beef I eat and buy grass-fed whenever possible.
I do not use weed killers or any form of herbicides or pesticides around my yard or garden.
I only use all-natural, aluminum-free deodorants, paraben and sulfite free shampoos, soaps, conditioners and face creams. I also make my own facial toner (witch hazel, herbal tea and essential oils - works like a charm).
Although it's a personal choice, I decided not to dye my hair anymore and limit make up use to special occasions only.
I only buy organic tea and coffee - both of those crops are heavily treated with a variety of chemicals (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides) before they are harvested.
I try my hardest to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night and I no longer feel bad for taking naps. My dog trained me well.
If you have any questions on what's a healthy body fat range for your age and gender, or if you want to make some dietary changes but don't know how, contact me here.
If you want to become more active and join a gym - check out a fantastic training facility Train 2 Xcel located in Ridgefield, CT.