Five Easy Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Small changes to your diet and lifestyle that can make a big impact. If you are not fighting your own battle with cancer today, chances are you know someone who is, or someone who has either already lost or won their fight.

Cancer is becoming more and more common every year. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly one-quarter of deaths in the United States are cancer related, exceeded only by heart diseases. In 2009, the American Cancer Society predicts that 1.5 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed. The most common cancers in men are prostate, lung and colorectal. In women it is breast followed by lung and colorectal cancers.

The good news is that there are changes we can make to our daily diets and lifestyles that can help reduce our risk of becoming part of the millions directly affected.

Eliminate Sugars and Artifcials Sweetners
Research tells us that insulin, the hormone that ultimately regulates how blood sugar is used by our bodies for fuel, is related to many chronic diseases, not just diabetes. When we eat foods that keep our insulin levels elevated for extended periods of time, this affects how our cells function and ultimately how they communicate with each other. According to Mehmet Oz, MD, when cells do not communicate normally, they begin to behave in odd and irregular ways, providing the basis of chronic disease, including cancer. Avoid processed foods, such as soda, muffins, donuts and bagels, which are bound to have simple sugars, guaranteeing elevated insulin levels. Focus on adding fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains into your diet instead which maintain your insulin levels so that your body operates normally, thus preventing chronic disease including cancer.

Drink Water
Every organ in our body from our lungs to our skin needs water to run correctly. Without water, our bodies do not run as efficiently. Drink half of your weight in ounces each day. If this sounds challenging to you, do not drink any other fluids until you have finished drinking your water for the day.

Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular exercise is proven to help reduce insulin levels and also allows our bodies to be more receptive to the insulin that is already in our body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “being overweight or obese may increase your risk of cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach and uterus”. When we are overweight, we typically have high insulin levels, which as noted above has a direct correlation to cancer.

Add Cruciferous Vegetables
These vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy) are really the super veggie. According to WebMD, they are loaded with phytochemicals (also called phytonutrients – these are health protecting compounds found in plants), vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are proven to slow the growth of tumors in the breast, lung, colon, liver, cervix. The photochemicals in these vegetables help stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify and eliminate carcinogens before they damage cells. Another bonus; these super-powered vegetables help reduce oxidative-stress, which reduces free radicals in the body. This may reduce the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.

Incorporate Dark Leafy Greens
These greens (bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and broccoli) are a great tool in cancer prevention. Spinach, swiss chard and beet greens while also considered to be dark leafy greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which depletes calcium from bones and teeth, and may lead to osteoporosis. Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.

Penina Bareket is a Holistic Health Counselor specializing in disease prevention.

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