You know, these online sites that tell us what the observances of the month are have gotten a bit ridiculous. I used to check them each month and there were a handful of meaningful dates and events like Breast Cancer Awareness month listed. Now, you get things like:
- National Pickled Peppers Month
- National Pizza Month
- National Popcorn Poppin' Month
- National Toilet Tank Repair Month
- Mom & Apple Pie Month
- All American Breakfast Month
- Hug a Texas Chef Month – (I kid you not!)
Well, today we’re going to talk about an October observance that matters – Self Care!
Since it also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s start with that.
Let’s take a look at food – especially since the holiday season is coming up and everyone overindulges then.
Most people know that berries are high in antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage; and that foods like nuts and cold water fish are high in Omega 3's, which help prevent inflammation, in turn, keeping our brains and hearts healthy. But are you familiar with phytonutrients? Phytonutrients are highly nutritious active compounds that plants produce to protect themselves from bacteria and viruses, but they help the human body as well. This is why foods high in phytonutrients are fabulous for cancer prevention!
Here are a few foods that are very high in phytonutrients; try making them a part of your daily meal planning!
Kale - This mighty veggie is high in fiber, which aids digestion; vitamin K and omega-3’s, which are anti-inflammatory; vitamin A, and more calcium than milk. A true superfood! A hint - If you massage your raw kale and then let it sit for 20 minutes, the texture is MUCH more palatable!
In addition to being high in vitamins C and E, Papaya is rich is beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants which helps boost immunity.
Cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, and yes, kale, have anti-cancer properties because of the phytonutrients sulforaphane, flavanols, and kaempherol they contain. These phytonutrients have been shown to reduce oxidative stress. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant and something that I eat almost every day!
The first, and, I think, most important thing we can do to reduce our risk for cancer of any type is to stop eating so much sugar. And I don’t mean to simply cut white sugar out of your coffee, or stop adding it to your breakfast cereal. If you still do those things, please stop, but please also realize that sugar is added to just about EVERYTHING! Reading the ingredient labels has become vital in this day and age.
Just last week, two of my clients talked about the food they were eating and reading labels, so I asked what they actually read on the label. I suspected what they’d say is calories and fat – STOP!
This is what we’ve been doing for years, but it’s not correct anymore! Counting calories was never really the answer to weight loss, but we didn’t know as much back then about how the body works. We do now, so let’s stop the old counting calories and buying “low fat” foods!
We should be eating REAL FOOD. Period.
The Ingredient list is the part we should be reading.
When you put the above-mentioned veggies into your grocery cart, you are buying REAL food. You can add your own spices when cooking them to make them taste best for you.
Pre-packaged foods are processed. Someone else has added spices, and usually a whole bunch of chemicals and sugar that we don’t need!
Google a few recipes, find some that sound like they might taste good and begin to make your own meals. You can start with one day a week, just start somewhere.
Many docs suggest eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies every day. For your best cancer prevention, try to get 9-12 different sources of phytonutrients in your diet on a regular basis.
Right now, while you’re reading this, check the ingredient list of one food that you have every day. Maybe orange juice? Or a certain type of cheese that you buy?
I once picked up what I thought was the brand of orange juice that I usually get, and didn’t notice until I got home that this box said “45% less calories.” Hmmmmmm. That would seem to be a good thing, right? NOT! The ingredient list was almost a mile long and contained stevia and water and “Natural Flavors.” I was so annoyed that I’d purchased the wrong one.
The ingredients list on my orange juice is 100% pasteurized orange juice. That’s it. Just because the advertising on the label makes it sound healthier, doesn’t mean it is.
Read the ingredients on the label - always - every label!
Many things like granola bars, bread, canned fruit, and others have extra, added sugar. “Natural Flavors” is another advertising ploy. This is a category of items that can include monosodium glutamate and a whole bunch of oils that you do not want to ingest.
And don’t get me started on cheeses that are sold in the supermarket… Real cheese ingredients should read (cow, sheep, or goat) milk, cultures, salt. That’s it! No oils, no preservatives…
And ladies, when we eat sugar, it creates insulin in our bodies. High insulin levels are linked to inflammation and cancer cell growth. Sugar is food for cancer cells. High insulin levels also increase your estrogen levels. High estrogen levels mean increased breast cancer risk. Increased insulin also means your body becomes really good at storing fat, which translates to you being unable to lose those last few pounds you’ve been trying to lose. And, guess what? Fat cells can make more estrogen. Do you see the dangerous circle here?
More bad news for many is that some alcoholic drinks are high in sugar, and all alcohol consumption causes an increase in insulin secretion (remember our dangerous circle…). Mommy does NOT need that glass of wine if it leads to three or four glasses. Too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which then impairs its ability to secrete insulin.
Notice that I didn’t say to go cold turkey and stop ALL sugar, although if you have had breast cancer, your doctor may have already suggested that you do that. Instead of adding white sugar to your baking or coffee, or cereal, try a drop of maple syrup. It’s so sweet that you don’t need more than a drop and it’s a REAL food. Coconut sugar is also available in most grocery stores.
The best cancer prevention is your lifestyle and dietary choices. So, make sure that you are also getting some exercise each week. Start a walking group, take up swimming, fit whatever you can into your daily life, but make it something you love to do so that you’ll keep doing it! The community and/or senior centers in my area all have a wide variety of classes that are fun and help keep us in shape. Find out what your community offers.
Let’s start right now, today, and get yourself in better shape BEFORE the holidays arrive!
When Thanksgiving gets here, you’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll want to take care of yourself by eating one piece of pie instead of the whole pie!
Today’s video is another tool for taking care of YOU! Enjoy!
Best of Health,