Let’s Beat Breast Cancer Together!
Have you noticed an eruption of pink in the last couple of weeks? Football players are wearing pink gloves, shoes and mouthpieces. Runners in crimson-colored shirts race through the streets. Even signature, cherry-studded bagels shaped as a survivor’s ribbon are available for a limited time—enjoy them while you can. These are just a few indications that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual observance started in the 1980s to heighten the awareness of the frequent and needless deaths associated with breast cancer. Specifically, there are many things we can do to help prevent breast cancer and it begins with our lifestyle.
In her book, “Breasts, The Owner’s Manual*,” Dr. Kristi Funk provides the ABCs of breast health. She begins by debunking breast cancer myths; explains the importance of a plant-based nutritional plan; emphasizes daily lifestyle activities; stresses weight management, and, shares how we can live longer, more vibrant lives.
Am I destined to have breast cancer? Many fear that their genetics or family history of breast cancer is a death sentence for the inevitable. Dr. Funk shares the facts, “…genes aren’t the be-all, end-all many people think they are. In fact, only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers currently prove to be hereditary.” She explains, “…meaning that they occur because abnormal gene mutations pass from parent to child.” As another physician stated, “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger!”
Why does food matter? Dr. Funk emphasizes the power of our plate, and specifically, more plants on our plates. In her book, she discusses the anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of phytochemicals (phyto means “plant” in Greek), which she writes “…directly target the very processes that cancer cells use to develop a tumor.” She introduced, “…some of the powerful plant compounds that block carcinogenic actions—like sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol (think broccoli and kale), genistein (soy), diallyl sulphide (garlic) and ellagic acid (berries and walnuts). She concludes that these compounds, “…can save your life.”
According to Dr. Funk, the perfect plate will be filled with antioxidants and other cancer-fighting nutrients. Without knowing each nutrient by name, we will know them by color. Look for a vibrant, deep-colored rainbow with red (lycopene), yellow and orange (beta carotene), green (chlorophyll) and blue (flavonoids). This rainbow of colors should fill 70 percent of our plate at most meals; pack the other 30 percent with plant-based protein and whole grains.
What about red wine? Alcohol is NOT your friend. According to Dr. Funk, “Alcohol increases estrogen levels (a.k.a., cancer fuel), impairs immune function, creates toxic metabolites like acetaldehyde, and inactivates folic acid, which repairs DNA when it goes awry.” What is a drink? One drink equals a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce bottle of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (80 proof). Dr. Funk explained, “Relative to a nondrinker, studies show that one drink a day increases breast cancer risks by 10 percent; two drinks a day increases your risk 30 percent; three drinks a day, 40 percent, and you can add 10 percent per drink thereafter.” You may agree these are sobering statistics for sure.
Carrying extra pounds? Dr. Funk is quite bold, “Your extra weight can kill you,” and she hopes her bluntness opens the eyes of her readers. “Being overweight or obese is the single most preventable contribution to the causation of breast cancer. World-wide, 25 percent of all cases are due to the deadly combination of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. In the United States, up to 50 percent of postmenopausal breast cancer deaths are attributed to obesity.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to determine body fatness. Follow this link to calculate your BMI: https://www.cdc.gov/
But there is hope! The good news is that even if you are overweight or obese, your daily physical activity can make a big difference. “Just 11 minutes of walking can reduce your breast cancer risk by 18 percent.
Kick-up that walking routine to 30 minutes a day or about 3 to 4 hours a week, and the risk goes down by 30 to 40 percent compared to sedentary women. However, if you pump-up your intensity and extend those walks to over 4 hours a week, the risk goes down by 58 percent.” Yes, exercise is your friend in preventing breast cancer as well as attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.
Let’s beat breast cancer together! These four simple steps, 1) choose a plant-based diet; 2) limit alcohol; 3) exercise daily; and 4) attain and maintain a healthy weight are all lessons we can take to live longer, more vibrant lives.
Source: Breasts: The Owner’s Manual
Your questions answered:
I loved hearing from each of you and I share the two most popular Q&As below:
How do I get started with plant-based eating? To be successful, it’s important to plan! Write down everything that you already enjoy that does not include or could be prepared without animal products. For example, at breakfast you may already be eating a bowl of cereal or oatmeal with fruit. You may have a salad at lunch and spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
Consider each meal and snacks, then write down the foods that are simple, quick and easy to prepare. For example, you may enjoy a burrito and have one made with beans and no cheese. Or, you could have spaghetti with a marinara sauce with vegetables.
Take a few days. Try some easy recipes and then create menu options. Again, make these simple! Think of the four components in the Power Plate, fruit, grains, vegetables and legumes. Your goal is to enjoy each of these at every meal.
Don’t forget your starches as they will fill you up and help you maintain satiety. Too many people make a green salad and don’t include beans, grains or even potatoes. These superfoods will sustain you till the next meal, so make sure you have them on hand. You don’t want to be hungry in 30 minutes; this will sabotage your efforts! Once you have your meals planned-out, buy your groceries and begin! If you work, it is best to set aside time on Saturday or Sunday to prep your meals. Try overnight oats or a veggie breakfast burrito for a quick grab-n-go breakfast; pack a salad-in-a-jar for lunch; have hummus with sliced vegetables for snacks; and, consider bulk cooking for evening meals. Planning and prepping will make your life so much easier during the week and guarantee your success. It will also allow you more family time.
Do I go “cold-turkey” and jump in 100%, or do I gradually emerge myself into a plant-based lifestyle? Most people transition to plant-based nutrition because they are dealing with a health condition(s), want to improve their athletic performance or drop some unwanted weight permanently. When you jump in 100%, you see and feel the benefits within 2-3 weeks. But if you have a plant-based meal just few times a week, you probably will not experience as many health or performance improvements. Plus, it is the commitment to a healthy, plant-based lifestyle that will lead to permanent weight management.
Get the help and resources you need to improve your health, enhance your athletic performance, or lose those extra pounds permanently. I can help you customize your journey to good health and vitality.