In this post, I address diet and lifestyle, and through them, you will learn steps to help you prevent cancer and many other diseases. When you arm yourself with this knowledge, you begin to choose foods that will help your body thrive and eliminate with foods that will feed a cancer diagnosis, heart attack, stroke, or other chronic illness. You’ll also begin to clean house by removing environmental toxins that may be causing a toxic overload, which can lead to disease.
When we can combine the latest medical breakthroughs with smart nutrition and positive lifestyle changes, we begin to reverse our symptoms and in some cases, eliminate the need to stay on medications.
Below are some alarming facts about the state of our healthcare.
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, and the number two killer in the U.S., with heart disease and stroke leading the way. Age is the biggest single risk factor for cancer. Risk increases significantly after age 50, and half of all cancers occur at age 66 and above. According to the National Cancer Institute, one-quarter of new cancer diagnoses are in people aged 65 to 74.
According to the CDC, about 610,000 people die each year of a heart attack. That’s one in four deaths. Up to 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.
One in three adults are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, but most don’t even know it. It occurs mainly in adults over the age of 40, although there has been a rise in children with Type 2 Diabetes rapidly growing each year due to the increase of child obesity. A sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and being overweight, substantially contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.
Autoimmune Disorders - There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases affecting 5-8% of the American population. There are no obvious patterns in autoimmune disease as it affects individuals at any age and gender, thereby making the process of pinpointing important genes extremely difficult. Yes, there's a genetic component in autoimmune disorders, and now, we have the study of epigenetics. This study means our genetic expression can be modified, through diet and lifestyle. When you develop an autoimmune disorder, something in your environment, diet, or personal circumstances has to turn on the group of your genes that cause autoimmune disorders. Through diet, healing your gut microbiome, and reducing the toxicity load in your body, you can redirect problematic genes, which will turn them off again and restore your immune system to health.
According to the CDC, more than one-third of the American population is obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.
The Skinny on Genes:
According to the researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, only 5 to 10% of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. There are steps you can take to lower your risk for developing the disease, mainly by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, knowing your family history, and undergoing regular screenings can help reduce your risk of a serious health issue such as cancer.
According to a 2009 study by the American Institute for Cancer Research, excess body fat alone causes more than 100,000 cancers each year. But, we know now that through a healthy diet and lifestyle changes, we can prevent cancer.
Each of us has a genetic predisposition for something. In my family, it is cancer. As Mark Hyman stated in his Broken Brain Docuseries, “Your genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”
Environmental Toxins Exposure and What to Do About It
Below are some helpful recommendations and steps you can take to gain health, by removing exposure to environmental toxins.
Drink plenty of clean filtered water. Drinking water helps detoxify your body and keeps you hydrated. Avoid plastic bottles that leach toxic chemicals into your body and use glass bottles instead. To find out the safety of your area’s water supply, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.WuW23IgvzD4
Avoid toxic chemicals in your skin care products. Replace underarm deodorants that contain aluminum (rumored to contribute to breast cancer.) with natural alternatives, Jason, Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, and Tropical Traditions brand are just a few available. Avoid skin care products and cosmetics containing toxins such as parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, formaldehyde, fragrances, and propylene glycol. There are two phone Apps you can get to check if a product is safe or not. The first is “Think Dirty” https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/ and EWG’s “Skin Deep.” https://www.ewg.org/
Reduce your heavy metal exposure by reducing your intake of high mercury fish, such as tuna, mackerel, swordfish, and Chilean sea bass. For your dental health - replace silver fillings that contribute to heavy metal toxicity with white composite instead.
Replace toxic household cleaning products with a natural alternative. Use natural products instead. Purchase products from Seventh Generation, Myers, Better Life, and Method at your local grocery store. You can also make your own with white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon. There are many ways to create your own non-toxic cleaning supplies and you can find ideas online, or through books on Amazon.
Foods to Avoid
Don’t rely on a food product’s health label. So far, the food industry is doing an outstanding job tricking us into believing that many food products in our grocery store isles are health food. Labels such as gluten-free, all natural, fat-free, sugar-free, dairy free, heart-healthy, whole grain are everywhere. Just scroll down the cereal aisle and these labels will be luring you in to purchase these toxic food products disguised as healthy. Fruit Loops, for instance, is claimed as a whole grain food! Many of the hidden ingredients don’t have to be listed on the ingredients list. When you see a health claim, it means there are many nasty ingredients inside that container, and the food product is highly processed and loaded with chemicals and industrial seed oils, that all cause inflammation in our body. The FDA allows this junk food into our food supply. These products are cancer-causing, obesity-inducing, autoimmune troublemakers, disguised as a healthy option. If the food product has a health label – beware! Broccoli, avocado, and cauliflower don’t require labels! It’s a crazy and insane world where our food industry can get away with this kind of madness. When I saw a certain cheese labeled gluten-free, I thought to myself cheese doesn’t contain gluten, however a “cheese-like product” that is made to taste like cheese, with artificial ingredients, chemicals, and dyes, does! Knowledge is power now more than ever. We don’t have to become a victim of our food supply! When we get educated on what to look for, we stop purchasing food that is making us sick.
Avoid Numbers: No ingredient on any box or package should have a number, such as Red No. 40 or Yellow No. 6. These are toxic chemicals. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says food dyes pose some risks to the American public and is calling on the FDA to ban Yellow dye # 6. A new CSPI report says Yellow dye # 6 contains known carcinogens and contaminants that unnecessarily increase the risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children and allergic reactions. You will find this in processed foods, including the popular product Ritz Crackers.
Avoid Gum, Candy, Sugary Soft Drinks, Soda, Pastry, Crackers, Chips, Cookies, bagels, donuts. These products are loaded with chemicals, and nothing about them is good for you. I’m also talking about the sugar-free options. They are the worst offenders. The chemicals used to make these products promote inflammation, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and other diseases. Replace with homemade healthy desserts, fresh smoothies with lemon, lime, turmeric, cinnamon, organic berries, 70% or higher dark chocolate, or sip on herbal tea.
Beware of Industrial Seed Oils. Soy, canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oil, all fall under the term “vegetable oils,” Making them sound like a healthy option. Why wouldn’t they, the word vegetable makes you think of kale, broccoli, and spinach. However, what the word vegetable here really means anything that is not an animal. In addition, 90% of soy and canola oils are genetically modified. The rise of seed oils has contributed to chronic disease and has changed the composition of the American diet with the intake of processed foods. Seed oils contain high amounts of a type of fat called Omega-6 PUFA. Omega-6 fats are chemically less stable than other types of fat such as Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Avocado Oil and Clarified Butter. When these problematic oils are exposed to heat, light, or oxygen, they create oxidative stress in the body. These oxidized fats are highly inflammatory to the body and create chronic inflammation. Yet another reason to eliminate these type of oils, as well as the processed foods that contain them.
Toss Out These Staple Items you may have Lurking in your Pantry:
Remove sugar in all its forms, including anything with the words “agave” and “high fructose corn syrup label. Organic maple syrup and honey are fine. I have a report on my website under “resources” that lists the 56 names of sugar taken from the documentary “Fed Up”, you can download it here: https://www.findingyourhealth.com/resources
Artificial sweeteners (Use Stevia instead)
Refined flours, white flour, white bread, white pasta, (use almond meal, coconut flour, brown rice pasta, sprouted bread instead.)
Canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oils or hydrogenated oils (replace with coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil)
Processed breakfast cereals
Margarine or butter replacements (use butter, or clarified butter instead)
Any food product that includes preservatives, flavorings, colorings, or thickeners
Conventional meats, eggs (see list below for replacements)
Any farm-raised fish (including shrimp), these fish live in unsanitary conditions and have pesticides.
Processed Deli Meat – Avoid meats that contain:
Sodium nitrate: Increased risk of cancers, diabetes, heart disease
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole: Possible carcinogen
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): Possible carcinogen
Foods to Include:
All dark-leafy greens, kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, Brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, these are your cancer-fighting soldiers!
A rainbow of fruits and vegetables including red, green, yellow, orange peppers, carrots, tomatoes, beetroot, eggplant, cranberries, lemons, limes, orange, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries have the highest amount of a beneficial compound called phytochemicals that help boost their cancer-fighting ability.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms deserve to be in a category of their own. Mushrooms have a “medicinal” property, (Shiitake, Maitake, etc.) that help boost the immune system and has cancer-fighting ingredients. Even the common button mushroom has cancer-fighting ingredients.
Tree nuts – includes almonds, pecans, hazelnuts walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios. Tree nuts improve the health of the gut microbiome, helping to prevent cancer. Including tree nuts into your diet (a handful twice daily) helps to prevent diabetes and insulin resistance, which also causes cancer. Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse!
Seeds – Each variety of seed has its own composition of nutritional benefits from fats, minerals, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. The seeds I recommend are flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin, sesame. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds help reduce inflammation. Serving size should be the same as nuts a handful or two a day.
Healthy Fats – Clarified butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Grass-Fed meat, nuts, and seeds.
Good quality protein - Grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, chicken, turkey, pork, and wild-caught fish, legumes (if tolerated) and pasture-raised eggs.
Beneficial herbs and spices to fight cancer include:
Beneficial supplements are:
Additional things you can do:
According to the Gerson Institute, “Fresh pressed juice from raw foods provides the easiest and most effective way of providing high-quality nutrition. By juicing, patients can take in the nutrients and enzymes that are easy to digest and absorb.” This cancer-fighting protocol suggests you juice daily.
Smoothies are another great way to get in your green and colorful fruits and vegetables! The difference between juicing and making a smoothie is with a smoothie the fiber is still readily available from the vegetables and fruits, whereas juicing strips it out. You can also add in things like chia, flax and hemp seeds, loose-leaf Matcha green tea, spirulina, nuts and seeds and other superfoods.
Buy organic whenever possible.
You can refer to EWB’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists. However, whenever possible, buy organic. By avoiding pesticides altogether, you’re giving your body a better chance of fighting off free radicals, which can lead to disease.
I hope I convinced you of the importance of diet and lifestyle changes and that when implemented, will help you live a long, disease-free life, and thrive. The alternative is to not address all of the issues stated above, and just wait for disease to appear. As I stated in the beginning of this post, cancer hits most people later in life due to having a lifetime of stress, poor dietary habits, and exposure to environmental toxins. If you take action now, you won’t be a statistic, and you won’t be in the category of living with chronic disease, as you grow older. Our current health paradigm is outdated, and we desperately need more Functional Medicine practitioners. Functional Medicine is fairly new, and not recognized in the medical mainstream the way I would like to see. We’re just at the beginning stage, but more and more health professionals are recognizing the importance of this approach to reversing chronic disease. Instead of focusing on disease suppression using medication, we work on disease prevention. Knowledge is power when it comes to our health.
Is your business looking for a guest speaker? Educating your employees about healthy food and lifestyle choices will increase employee engagement, while dramatically improving their health, therefore reducing time off for illness. Contact me today to learn more.