One of the reasons why I’m a bit obsessed with gut health and preventative medicine is that cancer has effected a lot of people I love. It’s safe to say, I’m not a fan; you’re not a fan. And while I know there are a lot of factors at play when it comes to cancer, I feel better when I focus on modifiable factors that I have the power to change (or at least improve). So, I’d like to share those with you today.
Move Your Body. Exercise not only helps us build strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, but it also helps us sweat out toxins and minimize stress, which has a huge impact on our health. Aim to move your body daily, which may include strength training, walking, swimming, gardening, dancing, and housework. If you currently aren’t moving your body, consider starting with 5-10 minutes of movement and build to an average of 30 minutes of daily movement.
Increase Fiber-Rich Plant Foods. You know I love me some fiber. Eating a colorful variety of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and lentils provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber also helps excrete toxins and excess hormones, exfoliates our gut, and feeds our gut microbes for a healthy immune system. Aim for a minimum of 30 grams of fiber, including three cups of non-starchy vegetables daily (leafy greens, broccoli, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots, etc.). Check out this blog post for ideas.
Check Your Meat + Cook It Right. Minimizing processed foods is a good general guideline across the board. When choosing meat, opt for ones without preservatives the majority of the time. This means minimizing meats such as ham, salami, bacon, deli meats, and hotdogs. And if you like cooking your meat on the grill or in a smoker, consider taking a few extra steps to reduce carcinogens. Basically, when meat is directly exposed to high temps for a long period of time, chemical reactions take place within the meat that forms carcinogens [i.e. heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)]. So, ways we can reduce that risk is by choosing leaner cuts of meat (helps reduce fat drips and flare-ups) that we marinate in acid (vinegar, lemon or lime juice, yogurt, etc.) for at least 30 minutes. You can also add certain herbs and spices to the marinade that have been shown to reduce HCAs (mint, onion powder, turmeric, garlic, and rosemary). Prior to heating the grill, cover it with foil to reduce fat drips and flare ups. While grilling, cook on medium to medium-high heat, flipping frequently. If your meat still gets charred or blackened, just remove that portion since it contains the highest amount of HCAs and PAHs.
Up Your Water Game. Water does a lot of beautiful things for our body, including keeping our bowels regular and clearing out toxins. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water daily, swapping out sodas, alcohol, or other sugary and artificially sweetened drinks for some refreshing agua.
Navigate Stress. Okay, so stress is one of those things we don’t have complete control over, which is why I’m a huge fan of working with a therapist and/or life coach. These experts can help us navigate through the stress, which can have a profound impact on our health.
I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email with one thing you’ll start implementing today to reduce your cancer risk.
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With love, Steph
National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.org
World Cancer Research Fund at www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer