We are approaching the end of October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
But any time is an important time to reflect upon how natural approaches to wellness can play a leading role in lowering your cancer risk.
Through my fifteen years of practicing naturopathic medicine I have discovered, first hand, how the foods we eat and our lifestyle choices can either support or suppress health.
With this in mind, I am sharing my four top tips for cancer prevention, supported by research, to help you stay healthy and keep disease at bay.
How To Keep Cancer At Bay
1. Keep your blood sugar balanced.
Studies also show that when you eat more fish, fruits, and vegetables and drop the amount of carbs and sugar you consume at any one time, while increasing your exercise, you’ll be optimizing your blood sugar levels and preventing cancer at the same time.
2. Optimize your cortisol.
Cortisol is the stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands.
Stress, and specifically the suboptimal cortisol levels that result, are known to perpetuate cancer risk. That is because when we are continually stressed, cortisol levels shift in an unhealthy way, throwing off other systems in our bodies, including our immune system, digestion, hormones, and nervous system. Fatigue and sleep issues are associated with imbalanced cortisol levels, based on research of women with breast cancer.
There are activities that you can choose on a daily basis to help decrease your stress. Studies show that mindfulness, gardening, talking with a friend, having a dog, and practicing yoga and meditation all help to restore optimal cortisol levels and reduce stress.
It is also possible to measure your cortisol levels in a saliva test and then to address any imbalances with nutrients and herbs that have been shown to effectively bring cortisol back to optimal, which has the potential to prevent cancer.
3. Manage oxidation in your body.
We’ve known that toxic exposure, such as cigarette smoking and environmental toxins, can damage DNA and increase the likelihood of cancer developing, so avoiding toxins makes sense. We now also know from research that by supporting our body’s own detoxification and anti-oxidant systems, we can also prevent cancer cells.
In addition to avoiding toxins in your environment (avoid smoking, pesticides, exhaust, plastics, and more), your best next steps are to:
- eat foods high in antioxidants such as broccoli, blueberries, kale, and tomatoes
- take herbs that contain anti-oxidants and support your internal detoxification pathways including curcumin, resveratrol, and green tea extract
In fact, taking these antioxidants in combination can be even better at addressing cancer cells than taking just one.
In a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, researchers found that antioxidants in green tea, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate, increased the effectiveness of curcumin in killing resistant breast cancer cells.
4. Avoid gluten.
Research is now connecting the dots between the digestive tract, inflammation throughout the body, and cancer and has identified leaky gut as the issue.
The best way to decrease the constant stream of inflammation is to heal a leaky gut – a microscopic condition that allows food, toxins, and bacteria to trigger an immune response that circulates through your body.
One of the major causes of leaky gut is gluten (and the pesticides that are associated with gluten). One of the best things you can do to turn around your health and prevent cancer too is avoiding gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, pastries, soups, and sauces.
Lowering your cancer risk is essential, and these tips can help you. It may seem overwhelming to try to take them all on at once, so I encourage you to start with a small, achievable goal and work your way toward integrating these tips into your daily life. The important part is to implement change in a way that works for you so that the positive changes don’t become stress themselves!
Dr. Donielle (Doni) Wilson, a nationally celebrated naturopathic doctor, teaches women, men, and children how to make life-changing differences to improve their health using natural approaches. In her new book, “The Stress Remedy,” she discusses how and why we experience stress and its impact on health and wellbeing, in addition to providing expert guidance on how to reduce stress and reclaim optimal health.
Photo by Jc Vega