31 Days of Prevention Strategies

The following blog is an excerpt from Judy's book: 

A Teacher's Journey...What Breast Cancer Taught Me.

  31 Days of Prevention

Diet and Lifestyle Strategies to Combat or

Help Prevent Breast Cancer

        Strategy 1 – Drink water with lemons/limes

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009, I read every book written by cancer “survivors’ who had successfully overcome the disease.  What I discovered was that there were many common elements in their diet and lifestyle changes.  I compiled these strategies in my book, A Teacher’s Journey…What Breast Cancer Taught Me but more importantly, I try to follow these healthy habits in my daily life.  Some are easy to implement; some maybe a bit challenging.

So join me on a 31 day journey to a healthier life.  Try to at least follow the recommended strategy for each day, and if you’re willing …keep adding the strategies until you’ve adopted them all - or at least a few.  We’ll start off slow with the easiest habits to adopt and build to the most difficult. Whatever you decide, if you take any of them as permanent habits, you’ll be healthier for it. 

Today’s tip is simple and something we hear all the time.  Drink lots and lots of filtered water.  The critical twist is to add slices of organic lemons and limes to it.  Water is the best internal cleanser and cancer hates the alkaline environment created by adding lemons and limes to your water. 

From NaturalNews “A glass of warm lemon or lime water first thing in the morning is surprisingly helpful in several ways. This Yogic or Ayurvedic ritual is primarily for stimulating digestion and eliminating ama, the Ayurvedic term for toxic slime that builds up in the gastro-intestinal or GI tract. This ritual has even more health benefits.”

To learn more, visit: http://www.naturalnews.com/033383_lemon_juice_digestion.html#ixzz27xUiXx2A

Many sources recommend drinking it warm, but any way is better than not.  I take a large BPA free water bottle and fill it with filtered water at night.  I add several slices of organic lemons and limes and place it in the frig before I go to bed.  Then during the day while I’m running errands or working, I can easily take it with me.  I keep refilling it throughout the day using the same fruit slices.  In the evening I discard the fruit, rinse the bottle and start all over.

Lemon/lime water has several benefits including purifying the liver, helping with digestion (restaurants offer lemon water for this reason), maintaining a high body pH (alkalizing effect), is high in magnesium and potassium and helps the body eliminate toxic waste.  All these wonderful things can happen by drinking a simple glass of water.  Drinking water before meals also helps your brain send signals to your stomach that you are satisfied with less food.  Who knows…you may even lose a few pounds.

So…for today, it’s pretty simple. Drink at least 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water.  While you’re at it, supercharge it with lemons and limes.

 

Strategy 2 – Pack Your Sneakers & Get Moving

 

  

Today’s tip is also a simple one but requires more motivation.  Now that you’ve brought your lemon/lime water bottle to work or prepared it to enjoy during the day at home like I do, get your sneakers or comfortable walking shoes on. Exercise is something that can become an enjoyable habit, especially if you recruit a walking buddy.  I recruited my husband and it’s a time in the day when we’re not distracted by the television or cell phones. Walking is the simplest form of exercise and one that can be achieved anywhere.

 

One thing that’s helpful is the purchase of an inexpensive pedometer. It’s fun to keep track of progress and is a great motivational tool. Aim for 10,000 steps per day or 30 minutes of brisk walking.  No need for expensive gym memberships, although going to the gym would be an excellent choice, but walking is cheap, easy and effective.

 

According to the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project for example, (many studies are available on the internet on this topic), statistics show that walking three hours per week, or a half hour per day, improves breast cancer survival rates by as much as 50% and reduces risk of developing the disease by 30%.  This is an easy goal to achieve, and matches the minimum exercise levels recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walking for a half hour per day will also reduce risks for other cancers, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

 

According to cancer.gov:

Researchers have established that regular physical activity can improve health by:

Helping to control weight

Maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints

Reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes

Promoting psychological well-being

Reducing the risk of death from heart disease

Reducing the risk of premature death

 

Guidelines recommend working up to a “brisk walk” which equates to 3-4 miles per hour.  Of course walking outside is preferred, not only for esthetic reasons, but to take advantage of health benefits of the vitamin D gained from sunshine. When the weather is bad, create an indoor path in your home.  This is when a pedometer is especially helpful for measuring progress, distance and maintaining motivation.

 

Strategy 3 – Vitamin D & Green Tea

 

 

Remember when we were children and our parents told us to go outside and play?  It turns out they were again right of course.  Sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D3. This form of Vitamin D helps create and enhance the proper functioning of all healthy cells in the body. Vitamin D is particularly helpful in preventing breast, ovarian, prostate and colorectal cancer, and people living in the Northeast have been found to be deficient in this important vitamin.

 

In fact, as a breast cancer survivor, I take Vitamin D3 as a supplement each day.  Some people metabolize D better than others, and the only way to know if you do is to have a simple blood test.  If you choose to take a supplement, be sure to take D3which is the naturally occurring form of D called cholecalciferol.  Of course you should always check with your doctor before taking any supplement.  So back to my suggestion yesterday about walking…if the weather permits you to walk outside, consider it two points for prevention.

 

For another easy point, while you’re sunning yourself, sip a cup of tea. Although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only recently have its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically. Tea has a high content of flavonoids which are plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants.

 

Green tea is at the top of the list since it is the best food source of a group called catechins.  This Superfood is more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appears to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have linked green tea with a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.

 

Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, originating in China but widely used throughout Asia. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols the substances that give green tea its many benefits.  Green tea also adds another important benefit to fitness.  It increases metabolism and can help with weight loss.

 

How much green tea has been found to help? Three cups seems to be the recommended amount per day. Green tea should steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds. Often I hear the argument among tea drinkers that green tea is not as flavorful as black.  A friend offered a solution…add a bag of green tea to your cup of black. 

 

Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk of heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension (high blood pressure) risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.

 

So my British friends have the right idea.   Save time for tea.  It’s not only relaxing but good for your health!

  

 Strategy 4 – The B’s of Prevention

Berries and Broccoli Are Your Breasts’ Friends

 

 

 

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

Hippocrates certainly knew what he was talking about,  and I keep this quote close at hand to remind myself that everything I eat will influence my  internal body chemistry, and either promote or inhibit good health.

We are told over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I was guilty of skipping breakfast many mornings when I was teaching.  I would take the easy road and pack a muffin.  I thought I was eating healthy; I did pack a bran muffin, but knowing what I learned from my research, it was very little bran and lots of sugar.  We’ll talk more about that later.  I learned how important it is to eat my B’s and how powerful these allies are to my good health. 

 

Now for the B’s…

The first B: Berries

There’s no better way to start the day than with fresh fruit.  Some of the best are the berry family: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  These delicious Powerfood cousins are packed with lots of antioxidants and vitamins. These natural treats that almost everyone loves, provide potent anticancer compounds.  Clinical trials on berry consumption and cancer prevention at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine promote the concept of ‘fruitraceuticals’ as opposed to pharmaceuticals for cancer, and emphasize prevention vs. treatment.   The magic elements of berries include calcium, folic and ellagic acids, fiber, and various phytochemicals.  Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (phyto means "plant" in Greek).

 

My breakfast now consists of fresh fruit (organic only – look for future posts on this), whole grain toast with almond butter and a cage-free omega 3 egg.  If your mornings are hectic, make a smoothie with fresh fruit.  Organic Greek-style yogurt and coconut water or juice can be added for added flavor.

 

The Second B:  Broccoli

Again your mother was right – you should eat your broccoli.  The cabbage family, including cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli, contain phytochemicals that are considered some of the most powerful prevention tools we have. The uniqueness of cabbage in cancer prevention is due to the three different types of nutrient richness found in this widely enjoyed food. The three types are (1) antioxidant richness, (2) anti-inflammatory richness, and (3) richness in glucosinolates.  Glucosinolates act "indirectly" to activate the body's detoxification systems

Cruciferous vegetables provide numerous health benefits including:

Anti-inflammatory benefits

Antioxidant properties

Detoxification benefits

Cancer prevention

Cardiovascular support

Digestive support

To bring out the flavor and nutrients, I don’t steam my vegetables.  I stir fry them with a bit of olive oil and garlic for two additional cancer preventing punches.  They are delicious, crisp and flavorful prepared this way.  Your kids may even like them.

Today’s tips are a bit of a chemistry lesson but so important.  Berries and Broccoli, a definite winning prescription.  Eating them will score you an A+ in health.

 

  Strategy 5 –When to buy organic?

  

The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen

How can you know which fruits and vegetables are ok to buy without the added cost of purchasing organic? Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists. These publications rate foods according to which have the highest and lowest pesticide residue to help shoppers determine which foods to buy organic and which are okay to buy conventional. Although ideally every shopper should be able to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, the reality is that organic often costs more. By heeding the EWG’s 2012 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists, health-concerned shoppers can still get the most for their money and minimize their pesticide exposure. 

 

Lists change slightly from year to year, so it’s important to recheck each year, and more importantly, take a copy of it with you to the grocery store! Why are pesticides particularly harmful for hormone dependent cancers?  Many pesticides cause estrogenic effects or effects that mimic estrogen in the body.  The majority of breast cancers are fueled by estrogen so any added estrogen to our diets should be avoided.

 

Research has established a strong link between estrogen activity induced by organochlorine pesticides (containing chlorine), and the risk of developing breast cancer. The results are significant. Patients with very high estrogen levels due to pesticide residues run four times more risk of developing the disease than patients with undetectable or very low levels. So far, 568 chemical products have been identified that affect our hormones.

Dirty Dozen Plus

This items are listed in worst to least in terms of pesticide residue.

1 Apples

2 Celery

3 Sweet bell peppers

4 Peaches

5 Strawberries

6 Nectarines – imported

7 Grapes

8 Spinach

9 Lettuce

10 Cucumbers

11 Blueberries – domestic

12 Potatoes

Plus

Green beans,  Kale/Greens

Clean 15

Lowest in Pesticide

1 Onions

2 Sweet Corn

3 Pineapples

4 Avocado

5 Cabbage

6 Sweet peas

7 Asparagus

8 Mangoes

9 Eggplant

10 Kiwi

11 Cantaloupe  - domestic

12 Sweet potatoes

13 Grapefruit

14 Watermelon

15  Mushrooms

 

© 2012, Environmental Working Group, All Rights Reserved.

So today’s tip is buy organic…if you can’t always do so, buy the dirty dozen in organic and the clean fifteen from the conventional isle.  When I buy conventional, I soak the fruits or vegetables in a sink full of water to which I add a cup of apple cider vinegar and soak them for five minutes.  This is a natural way to help remove pesticides.  Always rinse thoroughly afterwards.

 

Strategy 6 –Daily Plan for Adding More Fruits and Veggies to Your Daily Diet

In 1991, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation launched a campaign to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables to 5 to 9 servings a day for every American. Adding 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet can be a bit overwhelming at first. Five servings are considered the minimum. For men, the recommendation is nine servings per day; for women, it is seven.  Of course, the more fruits and veggies you eat, the better. 

Here is their website:

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_3_2X_Hints_for_Eating_Smart_with_Fruits_and_Vegetables.asp

 

A serving size is defined as the amount of fruit or vegetable that can fit in the palm of your hand. The following portions are examples of single serving sizes:

A small (3/4 cup or 6 oz) glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice

A medium-size piece of fruit (an orange, small banana, medium-size apple)

One cup of raw salad greens

1/2 cup of cooked vegetables

1/2 cup of cut-up fruit or vegetables

1/4 cup of dried fruit

 1/2 cup of cooked beans or peas

 So you’re probably asking…how do I accomplish this on a busy schedule?

 Here are some tips that may help you easily incorporate our colorful friends into your life.

 Some tips from their website to get more fruits and veggies into your diet:

 

•           Snack on fresh fruit throughout the day. Grab an apple or banana on your way out the door. I have a cup of mixed fresh fruit with breakfast, an apple with lunch and a banana in the afternoon.

•           Try to eat a big salad at lunch, and always order lettuce and tomato on your sandwich. I often make a grilled veggie sandwich on whole wheat flat bread.  I stir fry mushrooms, green and red peppers and onions – delicious. When I’m out, I go for a veggie on whole wheat or honey oat.  Use mustard often, it has turmeric in it.  I also make a huge salad with romaine, spinach, kale, cranberries, walnuts, avocado, beans and goat cheese.  Instead of salad dressing, I drizzle organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar (reduction).  The olive oil insures I will absorb the nutrients from the veggies and the balsamic adds flavor as well as alkalinity.

•           Snack on raw veggies instead of chips or candy.  I also snack on raw nuts and dried fruit.  Make sure the dried fruit you are buying is not preserved with sulfur and is not processed with sugar. 

•           Keep trail mix made with dried fruit on hand for a quick snack.

•           Eat at least two vegetables with dinner. I try to eat sweet potatoes whenever possible with dinner. They are a super food.

•           Choose fruit or whole grain baked goods.  I make my own banana bread, cranberry bread, and muffins. 

•           Eat a lot of raw tomatoes.  For men, tomatoes help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and for women, tomatoes have lycopene in them and function much like Tamoxifen in blocking estrogen metabolism.

•           Buy a juicer.  I love my juicer.  I use the pulp extracted to make soups, muffins and breads.  I bought a Green Star juicer model 2000.  My favorite juice recipe is carrots, kale, celery, cucumber and beet.  I also make fruit smoothies in my Vitamix using the veggie juice from my juicer and frozen organic fruit.  This makes a scrumptious snack or breakfast on the go.

 

Strategy 7 –  All meat and dairy are not created equal

  

Today I’m about to address a sensitive issue, but one which is so important.   The media constantly bombards us with messages about the necessity for our children to drink milk for good health.  Milk is advertised to be an important source of calcium and vitamin D.  I spoke about the importance of vitamin D and its role in the prevention of breast cancer in an earlier blog. 

 

I need to stress that the opinions expressed in today’s blog, although based on fact, is that…my opinion.  I no longer eat meat that is not labeled “grass-fed” and frankly I no longer drink or consume dairy products.  As a cancer survivor, I feel more vulnerable than others to the effects of hormones in my food so my decision may be a bit extreme for others. 

 

When I was teaching 5th grade, it became a topic of discussion and a concern among teachers as to why young girls were reaching puberty so much earlier than past generations.  There are theories that our food source is the culprit.  Puberty starts when excess amounts of chemicals called hormones start to be produced in the body.  What about the hormones being ingested from food? 

 

A decision in 1991 by the FDA to approve the use of growth hormones in dairy cows and beef cattle was of monumental consequence to the human diet. Traditionally, all beef was grass-fed, but in the United States today what is commercially available is almost all grain fed. The reason...it’s faster, and so much more profitable. In the past, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are slaughtered at 14 or 16 months. You can’t take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, soy, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones to accomplish in a few months what used to require years.

These growth hormones are commonly known as rGHB & rBST?

Somatotropin is a naturally-occurring protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland of animals; Bovine Somatotropin (BST or bST) triggers nutrients to increase growth in young cattle and lactation (milk production) in dairy cows. Artificial BST is produced using recombinant DNA technology (biotechnology), and called rBST for short. rBST is commonly known as Bovine Growth Hormone or rBGH.2 When injected into cows, rGHB increases milk production 10-15 percent and in some cases up to 40 percent. Approximately 17% of all cows in the US are given this artificial growth hormone. Incidentally, these hormones are outlawed in England and Canada. Our generation and our children’s are the first to be raised on milk and beef from these “Supercows”.

 

Milk from rGHB-treated cows also contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). Humans naturally produce IGF-1, and increased levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer. Even though no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in dairy and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.

So here’s what I do:

I don’t eat meat grown with the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.  Growth hormones act like estrogen in humans.  Since the use of growth hormones has increased, so has the incidence of breast cancers.  It makes perfect sense since estrogen fuels most breast cancers.  My breast cancer was highly estrogen positive, so I am extremely cautious about introducing any type of synthetic estrogen into my diet.

Beware of marketing strategies that advertise meat as “vegetarian fed”.  Even though these animals are not treated with growth hormones, they are fed a soy diet.  Soy consumption is discouraged for estrogen positive cancers. Always look for certified “grass-fed and free range” on the packaging. The nutritional difference between grain-fed and grass-fed animal products is dramatic.   First of all, grass-fed products tend to be much lower in total fat than grain-fed products. For example, a sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one half to one third the amount of fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed steer.  In fact, grass-fed meat has about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken or wild deer or elk. When meat is this lean, it actually lowers your LDL cholesterol levels.

 

I don’t feed my family milk from hormone and antibiotic fed cows.  If you really love milk, make sure you buy organic milk from grass-fed cows not fed hormones or antibiotics.  Personally, I avoid cows’ milk altogether and switched to coconut milk.  I love it. I even buy coconut cream for my coffee. Many people seem to like almond milk but although I like almonds, I do not like almond milk.  I eat ice cream make with coconut milk…it’s really delicious and even the vanilla is not heavily coconut flavored.  If you want to eat yogurt, buy the fat free organic Greek brand.  

 

Consumers have been led to believe that all meat is created equal. . In other words, no matter what an animal is fed, its nutritional value remains the same. This is absolutely not true. An animal's diet can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its products.  So don’t be fooled…all beef and milk products are not created equal.

 

In addition to its hormone content, milk from rGHB-treated cows contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). Humans also naturally produce IGF-1, but increased levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancers. Even though no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in milk and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.

 

The bottom line…when purchasing any dairy or meat products, read the labels carefully.  For milk, buy organic from cows that are not fed rGHB.  For beef products, buy meat from only free-range, grass-fed animals.

 

Strategy 8 –  Tumeric…Cancer’s Enemy

 

 

There are very few natural remedies on which oncologists agree, but the positive effect of Tumeric in combatting various cancers is widely accepted.  When I presented my list of supplements to my oncology pharmacist at Dana Farber in Boston, her reaction to my daily supplementation of Tumeric was one of overwhelming approval. Western science confirms that Turmeric is a first rate anti-inflammatory herb, and its impact on cancer patients is extremely favorable.

 

Turmeric is a spice that has a peppery, warm, and bitter flavor, and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. While it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. Tumeric is in the same family of spices as ginger and cardamom.

 

People whose diets are rich in Turmeric are found to have lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston suggest that curcumin, an active component in Turmeric, may also help prevent the spread of breast cancer. In studies with lab mice, researchers found that curcumin helped stop the metastasis of breast cancer cells to the lungs and bones. Turmeric has also been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years to fight inflammation and joint pain.

 

When Turmeric and black pepper are combined, they make a potent anti-cancer combination. Several studies have found that a compound in black pepper called piperine makes the cancer-fighting curcumin in Turmeric as much as 1,000 times more effective. In a study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center that was published in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal, researchers found that curcumin and piperine, when combined, were able to target cancer stem cells, the original cells in a tumor that the larger tumor "stems" from.

 

There are 20 known health benefits of Tumeric.  This website lists all 20: http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/20-health-benefits-of-turmeric.html

 

I take a Turmeric supplement with piperine 500mg twice a day and have done so since my diagnosis.   In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, Tumeric is noted to act as a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, a natural liver detoxifier, to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's, and to aid in fat metabolism and thus assist with weight control. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and boosts the effects of the chemo drug paclitaxel, a drug widely used to treat breast cancer.  Studies are underway to study the positive effect Tumeric has been shown to have on Cystic Fibrosis patients, and is being evaluated for potential use as an addition to current treatment protocols.

 

 Strategy 9 –  Magic Mushrooms

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a practice where plants and herbs play a large role in treating disease.  TCM suggests that eating a few ounces of mushrooms every day could help prevent breast cancer. Dr. Shiuan Chen of the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, and colleagues tested seven vegetable extracts for their aromatase-blocking activity, and found that white button mushroom had the strongest effect. A substance found in mushrooms called linoleic acid inhibits aromatase--an enzyme that affects estrogen levels.

 

Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body make estrogen. The ovaries are the major producers of estrogen in the female body and are needed for normal function in the child bearing years.  When too much estrogen is produced or ingested from the food supply, problems occur.

 

High levels of estrogen are associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. These estrogen positive breast cancers account for approximately 70% of all breast cancers. Studies have shown that linoleic acid inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells in the lab along with reducing the occurrence of mammary cancers in rats.

 

Hormone therapies like Femara are called aromatase inhibitors. The researchers evaluated 10 other types of mushrooms, and found stuffing mushrooms, portobello, crimini, shiitake and baby button mushrooms also inhibited aromatase activity.   This study and others like it suggest that mushrooms could be a form of natural therapy in lieu of aromatase inhibitors.

 

Although I try to incorporate mushrooms into my diet several times a week, I still take a mushroom supplement. Mushroom Supplements have been used for centuries throughout Asia but only recently has the extent of their benefits been recognized by Western countries.  Not only do mushrooms inhibit aromatase activity, but they also strengthen the immune system.

 

Strategy 10 – The Miracle of Coconut

   

Often when my sons were young, I would bring home a fresh coconut from the grocery store as a special treat. * The boys loved watching their Dad crack open the shell with a hammer, and enjoyed tasting the fresh coconut milk which they called “juice”.  Since I worked as a travel agent and we sometimes took cruises, they thought it was going to taste like the virgin pina coladas they loved drinking on vacation.  They soon discovered this “milk” was certainly not as sweet, and tasted more like water.  We all enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

 

Drinking coconut water has now become “in vogue” and quite popular as a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, and a great way to hydrate after a workout.  Low in calories and sugar, its available plain or fruit flavored.  Since I no longer consume dairy products, I use coconut water as a base for smoothies.

 

As a saturated fat, the use of coconut oil was once discouraged.  What was overlooked was that it’s only mono-saturated and is actually extremely healthy.  Coconut oil has a surprising number of health benefits ranging from relieving stress to bolstering the immune system.  It’s rich in lauric, capric and caprylic acids, and these omega three fatty acids give it its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti- fungal properties. It is so versatile that it can be used to cook food, moisturize skin, and treat infections. Amazing!

 

For baking, coconut oil adds extra moistness to cakes, fruit breads, and muffins, but no distinct coconut taste. I now substitute coconut oil and coconut butter in recipes.    Be sure to always buy organic, cold-pressed oil.  This is extremely important.  Many of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes are lost when oils are collected using heat processes.

 

A wonderful book to read is The Miracle of Coconut.  It explains how wonderful coconut oil products are for good health.  Just think of the pictures of beautiful Tahitian women with long, black shiny hair…coconut was and is a staple food in their diet and is commonly added to hair products.

 

Important information on hydrogenated oils:

Unlike organic coconut oil, hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. A trans fat is an otherwise normal fatty acid that has been "transmogrified", by high-heat processing of a free oil. There are many unhealthy hydrogenated oils that are used commercially because they have a long shelf life and are cheaper to use. It’s hazardous to consume hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated fats have been shown to cause diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The only two oils I use are organic, cold-pressed coconut and olive oils.

  

Strategy 11 – More Uses For Coconut Oil

 

Yesterday my blog was about why coconut oil is so good. So exactly how good is coconut oil? There are many, many different uses so I thought I’d list a few for consideration.

 

Coconut oil acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. It can treat psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and even wrinkles, and protects the skin from sun exposure, skin cancer, and free radical damage.

.

Unlike many other common oils, like soy (vegetable) and corn that contain LCT (long-chain triglycerides) that typically get stored as fat, coconut oil won’t make you fat. Coconut oil contains MCT (medium-chain triglycerides), which are an easy fuel for the body to burn, without becoming fat. When you add coconut oil into your diet, you’ll feel fuller and eat fewer calories over all.

 

Coconut oil is very soothing so it makes excellent massage oil for the skin. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue. Just the natural aroma of coconuts is extremely soothing and helps to lower your stress level.

 

Coconut oil is one of the best natural remedies for your hair. It helps in the healthy growth of new hair and provides a shiny complexion. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It provides essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. I have actually switched my body lotion and hair care products to ones containing coconut oil.  I love the light, pleasant smell that reminds me of the Caribbean, and it works wonders on my hair and skin.

 

The small molecular structure of MCTs allows for easy absorption into your skin giving it a soft, smooth, and supple texture. Coconut oil strengthens your skin’s underlying connective tissues warding off lines and wrinkles and supplies healing and repairing properties. It prevents destructive free-radical formation and limits the damage excessive sun exposure can cause and helps rejuvenate the skin by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells.

 

Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. When applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. 

 

Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti-microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

 

Due to coconut’s richness in omega 3 fatty acids, the use of coconut products results in a higher metabolism. People that switch to coconut oil for cooking, and coconut water to hydrate during work-outs, experience bursts of added energy.

 

Coconut oil has been shown to prevent liver, kidney and gall bladder disease. It improves our ability to absorb important minerals needed by our bones, thus warding off osteoporosis. With its ability to increase insulin production and control blood sugar, coconut oil helps prevent and treat diabetes.

 

Comprised of about 50% lauric acid, coconut oil helps control high cholesterol, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. The saturated fats in coconut oil do not have harmful properties of those contained in other vegetable oils. I add a teaspoon of coconut oil to one of my green teas in the evening.  Just be careful to let the tea steep and cool before adding the oil or you may burn yourself.  The oil floats on the top of the surface of the tea and keeps it extremely hot.  I am banking on its anti-inflammatory properties to keep me healthy.

 

On my earlier blog, I talked about not consuming dairy products.  The good news is that by substituting organic, unsweetened coconut milk to my diet, I don’t miss regular milk at all.  I have always been an ice cream lover, and thought giving up dairy was going to be a great hardship.  Once I discovered So Delicious brand of ice cream, my problem was solved. Its ice cream made of coconut milk and sweetened with agave nectar. So Delicious also makes a delicious coffee creamer product that comes in various flavors as well as soy milk based products.

 

So for all things good and healthy…think coconut.  You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.

 

Strategy 12 – Sugar Blues

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 Sugar Blues was the title of a book I read when my older son was born.  It detailed the affect sugar has on our bodies and why it should be avoided. I was determined to raise my children on a healthy diet and sugar and candy were not staples in our home.  My sons thought that raisins were candy; that is until they went to school or grandmas.  Then all bets were off.  I could easily see both in my own family and as a teacher how sugar affects children.  I dreaded party days at school when my students were given many sugary treats and the hyperactivity level in the classroom rose like mercury on a hot day.

 

I’ll admit, I have a sweet tooth and have always loved cookies, cakes and muffins.  Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve had to retrain my taste buds to adapt to my new diet where I try to eliminate as much sugar as possible. Please read the next sentence very carefully and see why.  There is tremendous evidence that sugar feeds cancer. When you eat a lot of sugar, your body produces a lot of insulin. Insulin is a natural substance made by the body but it also encourages cell growth. In simple terms, insulin can “rev up” cell growth. For healthy cells, this is a good thing. Healthy cells grow, divide, die, and are replaced as part of the natural process of living. However, cancer cells are also encouraged to grow and multiply when our bodies produce too much insulin. You don’t want to encourage them!

 

This makes perfect sense since sugar is an energy source for the cells in our bodies, and it doesn’t discriminate whether they are good cells or bad.  Ever had an MRI or CAT scan?  The dye they inject is in a glucose (sugar) solution to attract the cancer cells. Since these cells are dividing rapidly and latch on to the glucose first, they are the ones that glow with dye.  That’s enough proof for me. However, there are very few oncologists who tell their patients to avoid sugar.  The only reason possible is that avoiding sugar is a monumental task at first because it’s added to most foods to make them taste better. Reading labels should now become your new hobby.  It makes grocery shopping a bit more involved, but worth the extra effort.  To make foods labeled as “low-fat” taste better, sugar is often used.

 

So what can you do to replace sweets?  First and foremost…avoid use artificial sweeteners.  This has been a controversy since I did my science project on cyclamates (no longer sold) in the 8th grade.  There are no safe artificial sweeteners on the market. Don’t be fooled that Splenda is made from sugar…it’s made from the same elements but when used in different combinations is not the same at all.

 

The only proven safe sweeteners are plant-based like stevia, truvia, agave nectar, raw coconut sugar and erythritol.   I use erythritol, raw coconut sugar or Truvia in baking since they behave like sugar.  None of these natural sweeteners raise blood glucose levels like sugar does.  Raw agave is good in baked goods also. Always use raw agave since it has the lowest glycemic index in its pure state. Raw coconut sugar is a great substitute for brown sugar and also has a low glycemic index.

 

Erythritol is a “sugar alcohol” that is naturally found in a wide variety of foods including mushrooms, watermelon, pears and grapes (as well as fermented foods like sake, wine and soy sauce).  It has zero calories and a glycemic index of zero. And it’s widely considered the “almost sugar” by health experts and pastry chefs alike. But while erythritol does a great job at mimicking the sweet taste of sugar, it behaves quite differently in the body. First, it is slowly and incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. Then, the very small amount of erythritol that is absorbed gets converted to energy by processes that require little or no insulin. That’s why erythritol won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which is great news for anyone who is concerned about their weight! Best of all, erythritol can be used cup for cup in recipes just like sugar, and provides about 70% of the sweetness. It makes cupcakes, muffins and brownies moist and delicious… ice cream that’s rich and perfectly sweet… frostings that are smooth and creamy… and cookies that are crisp and chewy. I have found that many recipes call for much too much sugar, so 70% is quite a good trade off.

 

So today’s homework is … read all labels before you purchase food at the grocery store.  You’ll be amazed how much added sugar is common in products you would not even regard as ‘sweet”.

 

  Strategy 13 – The Benefits of Whole Grains

 

 

Whole grains provide many essential nutrients and necessary fiber to our diets. According to the American Institute for cancer research, the term “whole grain” means that all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. Refined grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer.

 

Try to always eat whole grain products and avoid breads and baked goods mad with white flour. During the refining process of white flour, the majority of the minerals and vitamins are removed. What’s left behind behaves like sugar in your body. Baked goods made with white flour cause blood glucose disturbances and sugar cravings.  It’s a vicious cycle…the more sugar you eat, the more you want.  Meanwhile your insulin levels rise.

 

I use whole wheat, oat, or brown rice flour when baking, and also substitute coconut flour in place of ¼ of the flour.  Coconut flour is a low-carbohydrate alternative to wheat flour, it’s high in fiber and low in sugar and carbohydrates.  I use it with brown rice and oat flours when I want to make muffins or banana bread that’s gluten free.  Red Mill also makes an organic, gluten-free baking mix made of bean and tapioca flours.

 

When buying bread, look for brands that do not use high fructose corn syrup and specifically say 100% whole grain.  I have also tried the Ezekiel brand of sprouted grain products.  They make breads, English muffins and rolls which are quite delicious.  These products are made with sprouted grains and are higher in fiber and nutrients than wholegrain bread.  

 

Some of the Benefits of Sprouted Grains:

 

When grains, seeds and nuts are germinated, their nutritional content changes and, as they are generally not cooked, they retain their natural plant enzymes.  These enzymes are beneficial for helping the digestion of seeds and nuts in the digestive tract.  As well as retaining the enzymes, they also retain the nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by cooking.  Sprouted grains, seeds and nuts also encourage the growth of good bacteria, help to keep the colon clean, and are high in protective antioxidants.

 

Sprouted grain breads are significantly higher in protein, vitamins and enzymes, and the complex starches are converted into natural sugars.  They are also low GI (Glycemic Index), so they are digested more slowly by the body. The glycemic index of a food is the measurement of the glucose (blood sugar) level increase from carbohydrate consumption  With a low GI, sprouted grain products keep the blood sugar levels stable for longer, making people feel more satisfied and therefore less prone to  snacking. It’s interesting to note that the more highly processed a food is, the higher GI it is.  A loaf of white bread is significantly higher GI than a loaf of sprouted grain bread.

 

Read more at:

http://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain/

 

 Strategy 14- Read all make-up labels

 

 Chemicals have played an important part of my life since 1974.  That was when my college years began and I chose to major in chemistry.  Not only was I spending time in the lab for my own classes, my work study assignment was to serve as a lab assistant in the freshman chemistry lab.  Back then, we didn’t know the dangers of organic chemicals like benzene, so sufficient precautions were not used when handling such hazardous substances.  Whether or not this would later lead to my breast cancer diagnosis, I’ll never know.  What I do know is that one of the first things I did following my diagnosis was to reduce my exposure to noxious chemicals.

 This lifestyle change was not as hard as it seems, there are currently so many eco-friendly cleaning products on the market that switching was quite easy.  One example would be my old-fashioned window cleaner created from plain white vinegar and water.  It works like a charm.  I research many natural ways to create my own cleaning products from natural materials.

 

Personal care products and make-up were another big area of concern. Once I began reading labels, I was shocked to discover products which I had used regularly, contained many dangerous chemicals.  It was not just limited to make-up, but included lotions and nail care products.  I had always used aluminum-free deodorant, but had no idea how many other products contained harmful substances.  I compiled the list below and I now read every label before purchasing new products.  I carry a small printed version of this list of harmful chemicals in my purse when I go shopping.

 

In the beginning, this change was difficult and costly, as it meant disposing of a great deal of the products I had been using.   Just because a product displays the breast cancer symbol on its label, don’t assume it’s safe. It’s tragic that there is no policing of pink ribbon products to insure they are free from dangerous chemicals.  This is something that needs to be changed in the United States.  Many of these chemical additives are already outlawed in Canada and Europe.

 

The additives to avoid are:  parabenes, formaldehyde, toluene, sulfates and phlalates in both beauty products and foods.  These chemicals  are estrogen producers in your body.  I was amazed at how many make-up and lotion products contain these, particularly parabenes and phlalates. I switched most of my cosmetics to Origins Organic make-up and now use Sparituals nail products. Since product formulas are continually changing, just be sure to read all labels before purchasing to insure your product is clean.   Other mineral make-up lines are chemical free but contain soy.  If you are estrogen positive, you should avoid soy in any form.

 

What’s upsetting is that companies that use these chemicals in their products and proudly display the pink ribbon mislead people into thinking they support breast cancer research.  They may indeed contribute an extremely small percentage to research the very disease their ingredients cause.  Profiting from disease when you may be contributing to its cause is unthinkable.  A movie that exposes these issues was produced in Canada and was recently released in the US.  It’s called: Pink Ribbons Inc. and exposes the misuse of the Pink Ribbon by companies whose products contain carcinogens and how some “Big Pink” organizations take large percentages of donations for corporate overhead.

 

Strategy 15 – Kale…The Ultimate Green Machine

 

Growing up in a Portuguese household, a staple and traditional soup known as “Soupas Caldine” AKA kale soup was a frequent meal served in our home.  I’ll admit I was not always an enthusiastic fan, but thought it was just ok.  I had no idea of how healthy this curly green vegetable was or of its powerhouse of attributes until I developed breast cancer.  Now, my mom makes this for me often and I love it.  To make it healthy,  she does have to leave out the traditional “chourico” and substitute free range chicken, but otherwise the recipe is authentic.

When I began to research cancer fighting foods, kale was always at the very top of every list. Why? Here’s a list why.

1. Kale boasts two of the most powerful antioxidants, carotenoinds and flavonoids. Theseaid in eliminating free radicals and help fight against cancer. Kale is also high in fiber.

2. Kale is packed with vitamins A, K and C – all immune boosting superstars,

3. Kale is rich in lutein, which is great for preventing coronary artery disease and keeping your heart healthy.

4. Kale and other members of the cabbage family prevent cancer cell growth. The organic sulfur that’s found in vegetables in the Brassica genus (like Broccoli) contain compounds called isothiocyanates. These enzymes help destroy cancer cells and help block any further growth.

5. Kale fights inflammation. Not only is it a powerful cancer-fighter, if you suffer from chronic illnesses like arthritis, kale is something that you need to incorporate in your diet. Kale aids in reducing inflammation caused by the over-consumption of processed meats and, considering that it has more iron than beef, it is nutritionally a better option.

So for cancer prevention, there is no better choice than kale. Recently, I have found many local grocery stores are stocking organic “baby kale”.  If you don’t like the taste of the more common, large leaf kale, this may be a good alternative to try.  I add it to spinach salad and it blends in quite nicely.  I also stir-fry it with olive oil and garlic as a vegetable side dish. 

 

Strategy 16 –Limit Alcohol

 

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There’s a lot of controversy about breast cancer and alcohol use.  Some studies say one glass of red wine per day is recommended for heart health, while more than 3 drinks per week increases breast cancer risk significantly.  Conflicting evidence can be very confusing.  What seems to be accepted is that if you do drink, red wine is the best choice.  Worst on the list is hard liquor.

 

I must admit I do enjoy a glass of red wine, but I have limited my alcohol use significantly since my diagnosis.  Red wine, although listed as good for your heart, must be limited to 4 oz./day or you compromise any benefits and increase breast cancer risk.  Four ounces is not very much compared with the average serving.

 

Current studies suggest an increased breast cancer risk by as much as 40% if the 4 oz/day alcohol limit is exceeded. Recent guidelines also suggest no more than 3 drinks per week. Some studies even go so far as to say none is best, but this is perhaps not realistic.

 

The chemistry behind the problem is that alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde, which acts as a carcinogen in the body. Acetaldehyde boosts cancer risk by inflicting oxidative stress that damages DNA, prevents DNA repair, and triggers a pro-inflammatory reaction.

Damage can be offset by adding a few foods and plant-based compounds to one’s diet.  There is scientific evidence that adequate consumption of Vitamin B-9 (folate) reduce risk of breast cancers associated with drinking alcohol. An exhaustive review of the research evidence has found that women who drink alcohol and have a high folate intake are at reduced risk for breast cancer.  Foods rich in folate include citrus fruits, citrus juices, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and peas. Most good quality, raw daily multiple-vitamin tablets also contain Vitamin B9.

So if you’re going to drink, always indulge in folate-rich foods.  As always, moderation is the key.

 

   Strategy 17 –The Power of Positive Thinking

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Positive thinking: a simple idea but a seemly insurmountable task when you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer, or face any one of life’s many crises.   A positive attitude is so important because it helps your body de-stress and focus on recovery.  If you have breast cancer, once you’ve completed your surgery and treatment, it will become much easier. The value of positive thinking has been proven to make a difference, but is much easier said than done.  Once you have survived cancer, every day is a good day, but coping with feelings often requires strategies.   We all need to learn to reduce stress whenever possible.  This is true whether you have cancer, or are trying to keep your body and immune system healthy to prevent the disease. Here are a few strategies from my book that help reduce stress. 

•           Relaxation techniques.  I downloaded Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery program for cancer patients onto my iPod. After my mastectomy surgery, I tried to use it at least once a day.  It helped a lot with positive thinking.  You can download it in MP3 format or buy the DVD.   Here’s the website:         http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=115 . 

For those who are trying to prevent cancer, relaxation is just as important.  Our culture is moving so fast we have no time to stop and smell the roses.  I lived in England for four and a half years and they would refer to our fast-paced society, and our work hours of 60 hours plus per week in stressful jobs as “uncivilized”.  There many different DVDs available for relaxation.  One other simple idea that works for many people is simply downloading some of your favorite music on an IPod and taking a few minutes while you eat lunch or walk to listen to music and think positive thoughts.

•           Qigong –Dana Farber offers introductory classes for patients as part of their complimentary therapy department.  Since Dana was too far for me to travel on a regular basis, I purchased a book by Dr. Nan Lu.  You may read about his recommendations for breast cancer support using Traditional Chinese Medicine on this site:http://www.breastcancer.com.  I found the qigong exercises on the website to be a way of relaxing.

•           Yoga – I purchased a yoga DVD made specifically for breast cancer patients. It’s by Susan Rosen and is titled: Yoga and the Gentle Art of Healing: A Journey of Recovery After Breast Cancer.  My Lymphedema therapist reviewed this DVD and also said it was very good.  My neighbor Suzy also convinced me to sign up for classes with her.  At our studio, a fellow survivor actually offered a free class for women recovering.  I enjoyed that class not only for the exercise but for the camaraderie. Yoga is a great way to distress your body when jobs, children and everyday life become overwhelming.

 

Strategy 18 –Low Fat Lies

One of the recommendations for preventing breast cancer and heart disease is to follow a low-fat diet. This does not mean a no fat diet. To be healthy, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat with saturated fat limited to not more than 10 percent of total daily calories.  This recommended daily allowance is meant to encourage monitoring of your total fat intake, and not meant to be interpreted as an endorsement for “low fat” packaged foods.

Unfortunately, this low-fat craze has created a demand for newer versions of packaged foods made to taste seemingly like the original, but with a lower fat content.  The key word here is the word packaged.  Cookies, crackers, and dairy products are among the list of commonly purchased low-fat foods.  The FDA allows food manufactures to advertise products with a "low-fat" label if it contains three grams of fat or less per serving. This is the only piece of information that the low-fat label can tell you. It doesn't tell you what’s in the product, how it’s made, or any other nutritional content such as sodium and cholesterol. Potato chips and other snack foods which are unhealthy choices are made to sound good for you by being labeled “low fat”.  These are simply low fat lies.

 

By deceptive labeling, consumers are lead to believe that these packaged low-fat foods are healthy.  Since they assume these foods are lower in calories, the temptation is to eat more of them. Researchers at Cornell University, report that many low-fat alternatives are advertised to have up to 40 percent fewer calories than regular brands, when the actual figure is more likely to be only around 11 percent. 

 

Fat provides flavor in food. If you are buying a food that previously tasted good because of its fat content (like ice cream, for example), the fat has to be replaced with something else in order to be flavorful. In reality, some of the fat is substituted with increased levels of sugar and artificial ingredients for added taste.  If you compare the original version of a product with the low-fat brand, you will often find a higher number of sugar grams.  So don’t assume that low fat always means low calorie.

 

Our bodies need real fats to stay healthy. Fats are an efficient source of energy, providing more than twice the number of calories as proteins or carbohydrates---so a little goes a long way. In addition to providing energy, fats are also involved in the regulation of hormones, help support cell membranes, and are needed for the body to assimilate the four fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.

 

Healthy fats like olive and coconut oil will help to feel fuller longer and diminish the temptation to overeat. The fact is that you’re better off with a half teaspoon of the real thing than two tablespoons of the fake.  So before you purchase any foods labeled “low fat’, check the sugar content. Next count how many ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce or are listed as artificial.  In this case, one is too many.

  

 Strategy 19 –Vitamins: Raw is Best

Many people ask, "Are vitamins necessary, and what kind is best?" I have always taken vitamins, although I have to admit I never took them religiously.  Even when I did, I thought the generic daily vitamin was enough.  Until I got sick, I never gave a thought as to whether or not these vitamins were being effectively absorbed by my body. The idea to look for a raw food vitamin had never occurred to me.  The fact is I was taking the most affordable and most popular synthetic vitamin. 

 

Most of the vitamins you find on the pharmacy shelves these days are made synthetically through chemical processes. Synthetic vitamins are made in a laboratory setting and are cheaper to produce than natural vitamins. Nutritionists specializing in holistic and preventive medicine believe synthetic vitamins are useless and ineffective. Orthodox doctors and even some nutritionists argue that synthetic vitamins have a molecular chemical structure identical to the natural vitamin and that they are just as effective.

 

So who’s right and who’s wrong?

Preventive medicine authorities believe the best multivitamin supplement must come from nature— not from a test tube! Raw vitamins contain nutrients that are found in nature (Think plants!) that we need for optimal wellness.  Raw foods are rich in enzymes and many other phytochemicals that processing and heating destroy. Studies have found a link between enzymes and longevity. Enzymes are needed for good health so when they are depleted, health suffers. The body can produce only so many enzymes endogenously (internally), and people realize food enzymes are as necessary to health as any vitamin.  In most cases processed foods (and vitamins) lack such enzymes due to heat and other processing. These enzyme molecules are only produced when food is in its natural state or fermented with beneficial bacteria.  Fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, and even coffee, deliver an incredibly diverse supply of antioxidants.

 

Supplements, as the word clearly states, are meant to supplement a highly varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods. As an example, you can get bioflavinoids from citrus fruits, but you can’t know exactly how much vitamin C you are getting. Supplements are a way of assuring you enough nutrients to keep your body healthy.  Where to get RAW vitamins?  You can purchase them at a health food store, WholeFoods stores, Trader Joe’s and online.  Be sure before you purchase that it clearly specifies RAW on the label.

 

 Strategy 20 – Probiotics and Kombucha:

Your Digestive System Will Feel the Love

 

Most people when they hear the word Kombucha think it’s from a foreign language.  Actually they are correct – it’s Chinese. If you’ve never heard of Kombucha you’re not alone. I had never heard of it either until I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Here’s how Wikipedia defines Kombucha:

Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea that is used as a functional food. Sometimes referred to as a "mushroom", the kombucha culture is actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

 

I was introduced to Kombucha by my daughter-in-law, Amber, as a way to prepare my body for surgery. The origin of Kombucha is mysterious. However, as far back as the Chinese Tsin Dynasty in 221 BC, a beverage made from tea and sugar was revered as "K'un Pa Chu'a, a tea like wine," and was reputed to have near-magical healing powers.  It’s used in traditional Chinese medicine as a means to boost the body’s immune system, which is so important before any major surgery to prevent infection and promote healing.

 

Kombucha is made from tea and sugar fermented by a pancake-shaped yeast-and-bacteria culture called a scoby. Also called mushroom tea, Kombucha is served chilled. It contains acetic and other organic acids, B vitamins, amino acids, polyphenols, enzymes, probiotics and traces of ethyl alcohol, depending on brewing time and conditions.

 

My favorite flavor is GT’s Gingerade as it tastes a bit like ginger ale and is highly effective in treating an upset stomach.  It was an invaluable tool for me the first few days after surgery when I was nauseous from pain medication.   GT’s founder developed the drink for use when his own mother developed breast cancer.  Laraine Dave was diagnosed in 1995 with an aggressive form of breast cancer and used Kombucha as part of her daily diet.  She beat her cancer and still remains cancer free today.

 

If I were asked to describe the taste of Kombucha, I would describe it as an effervescent, very slightly vinegary, refreshing drink. Friends whom I have introduced to its use, say it gives them energy.  Kombucha is available in health food and some supermarkets in various fruit flavors.  A “green” flavor is enhanced with raw green Superfoods, but does have a bit of an acquired taste.

Simply put, Kombucha is a natural health beverage loaded with probiotics and other healthy amino acids. Probiotic literally means “for life”. Unlike antibiotics, which kill all of the bacteria in your body, even the good ones, probiotics re-establish the natural ecology of intestinal flora. Probiotics are said to boost immunity, enhance mood, fight allergies, detoxify the body and rid the body of disease.  Sounds like the ancient Chinese knew what they were talking about.  Kombucha is magical for your body’s digestive system.

 

Of course, there are other ways to get a healthy dose of probiotics.  In addition to Kombucha, I use the supplement  PB8.  One capsule of PB 8 contains about the same amount of live probiotic culture as ten cups of yogurt.  The digestive system is responsible for nutrition and elimination of waste and carcinogens.  It’s vital to keep it healthy and running smoothly to avoid disease.

 

The choice is yours concerning which probiotic formula works best for you.  If you include dairy in your diet, you could choose organic, Greek-style yogurt.  Other choices are supplements and Kombucha tea.  I choose both Kombucha and PB8 supplements. You can never get enough probiotics in your diet just like you can never overdose on fruits and vegetables.  When you choose to boost your body’s natural healing systems, you can’t go wrong.

 

Strategy 21 – Get Your Beauty Sleep

 

Our brain’s melatonin production is one of the keys to a good night’s sleep; and the lack of it, can result in just the opposite. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain. It’s best known for its role in the regulation of the sleep/wake cycles. Researchers have also found that low levels of melatonin stimulate the growth of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells.

 

Prior to my breast cancer diagnosis, I was having a lot of trouble sleeping.  I would often wake up at 4 am and was unable to get back to sleep.  My doctor said it was possibly due to my pre-menopausal condition and offered me a sleep aide.  I mistakenly declined and continued to spend many hours lying awake at night.

 

Once diagnosed, I simply could not sleep at all.  I began to research natural sleep aides and discovered that melatonin was an extremely effective one.  I also learned there had been studies conducted on melatonin and its ability to enhance the effectiveness of Tamoxifen as an estrogen receptor inhibitor.  I reviewed these findings with my nutritionist and oncologist, and asked permission to take a melatonin supplement. Since the results were not universally accepted as protocol in 2009, they advised me to only take three milligrams each night, although the studies suggested up to twenty. Current recommendations as a result of accepted studies now suggest 20 to 50 mg.

 

Unfortunately, I had just missed the opportunity to enroll in a clinical trial on melatonin and early stage estrogen receptor positive breast cancer at Dana Farber in Boston. Based on all of these studies, melatonin may potentially become an important addition to the future treatment protocol of ER+ breast cancer.

 

There have been many studies on the effects of melatonin production and its effect on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Here are the conclusions of a few of these studies.

 

1.      Low levels of melatonin have been associated with breast cancer occurrence and development. Women who work predominantly at night and are exposed to light, which inhibits melatonin production and alters the circadian rhythm, have an increased risk of breast cancer development (Schernhammer et al. 2003).

2.      Melatonin appears to work as an anti-estrogen on tumor cells. although differently than Tamoxifen. When the two are combined, the result is better than Tamoxifen alone. (Lissoni et`al., 1995.)

3.      Melatonin demonstrates growth inhibitory effects by inducing differentiation (“normalizing” cancer cells)(Cos et al. 1996) as well directly inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation (Ram et al. 2000) and  boosting the production of immune components, including natural killer cells (NK cells) that have an ability to kill metastasized cancer cells.

Of course, you should always check with your doctor as I did before taking any supplements.  My choice is to continue to take melatonin each night.  I know my cells need their beauty sleep!

 

Strategy 22 – Beware of High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) began to be widely used in our food supply approximately 30 years ago. Ever since its debut, the problem of obesity has been on the rise.  HFCS is a man-made sweetener that is used in almost every convenience and pre-packaged food on the market.  New marketing strategies by the corn industry praise HFCS and mislead the public by calling it natural “corn sugar”.  By putting the word natural in front of any product, the food industry makes unhealthy products appear as if they are good for you.

 

At the end of the 1970’s less than 15 percent of Americans were obese.  According to the centers for disease control, 35.9% of adults over 20 and 18.4 % of adolescents ages 12-19 are now obese.  This is an incredible increase in the last 40 years.  One of the major causes of obesity and the rise in type 2 Diabetes is the most evil refined grain of all, High Fructose Corn Syrup. The production of HFCS rose from 3,000 tons in 1967 to 9,227,000 tons in 2005. A study at Tufts University reported that Americans consume more calories from HFCSthan from any other source. Obesity is a major contributor to developing breast cancer.

 

Why is HFCS so widely used?  It’s one of the cheapest sweeteners around. By using it in place of sugar, processed food companies can boost profits considerably.  Unfortunately, they are expanding our waistlines at the same rate.  How does this happen?  HFCS somehow tricks the body so that insulin and leptin are not released.  These two hormones should be released when you’re done eating to make you feel satisfied.  Of course these companies want you to consume their products in large quantities to drive profits, so by suppressing the body’s natural control mechanisms, you continue to eat even when you have exceeded your daily calorie limit.  Thus obesity is the result.  We continue to eat even though we should be full because the flavors are addicting and our appetite control hormones are being manipulated.

Here are the main reasons you should stay away from any product containing high fructose corn syrup.

1.      HFCS is not a natural product but is produced by chemical means.

2.      HFCS turns off insulin and leptin, hormones needed to feel satisfied.

3.      Mercury contamination has been found in random samples of HFCS.

4.      Most corn grown for HFCS is genetically modified and riddled with pesticides.

 

If you want to cut down drastically the amount of processed food you eat, don't buy anything that has high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it. Unfortunately, when you shop, you'll have to read all labels very carefully because HFCS is in nearly everything: jelly, juice, sodas, whole-grain breads, cereals, ketchup, crackers, yogurt, sweet pickles, applesauce, salad dressing, ice cream, cough syrup and lots more.

 

Strategy 23 – Apple Cider Vinegar

 More than Just for Salad

Apple Cider Vinegar is exactly what it sounds like:  vinegar from fermented apple juice.  Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits but one of the most important for cancer patients or for preventing cancer is that it fosters an alkalizing environment.  I said in an earlier post how cancer cells do not survive in an alkaline environment but thrive in an acidic one.  Apple cider vinegar is not only a great alkalizing agent, but it’s rich in enzymes and potassium which your body needs to regenerate soft tissue.

 

Apple cider vinegar tastes just like it sounds: vinegary with an apple flavor.  Its main advantage includes its use as a powerful internal cleanser.  In addition, clinical studies have confirmed many other health benefits for apple cider vinegar.  These include lowering blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and it can even slow or kill the growth of cancer cells.

Adding a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to a chilled vegetable drink or water can help beat workout exhaustion, help with tummy troubles due to a bacterial infection, stop hiccups, and help prevent indigestion and nighttime leg cramps. Gargling with apple cider vinegar in the morning can help whiten teeth.  The vinegar helps to remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. 

 

A 2006 review article in the "Medscape Journal of Medicine" concludes vinegar may have a role in blood sugar control and appetite suppression. Other studies show vinegar may also promote weight loss by preventing fat accumulation through its impact on insulin reduction. Recommendations for weight loss are to use 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 16 ounces of water and sip it throughout the day.  This helps to maintain a constant pH and keep your body in a constant, alkalized state and capable of blocking fat absorption.

 

I use raw, organic ACV and my favorite brand is Braggs.  It’s unfiltered and loaded with living nutrients and enzymes similar to Kombucha. Clear vinegar is filtered and does not have any of the benefits of the raw, unfiltered kind. Always be sure to dilute it, as due to its high acidic nature, it can affect the enamel of your teeth.  Braggs also makes a line of apple cider vinegar drinks with various added flavors like ginger spice, apple cinnamon, limeade, and concord grape-acai.

 

So the old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, also applies to apple cider vinegar.  Admittedly, it is an acquired taste, but sweetened with a bit of honey or stevia, it can be very refreshing.  With all the possible health benefits by drinking this simple food, you can’t afford not to try it.   

  

Strategy 24 – Healthy Cooking Tips

 As I said earlier I did, and still do, love sweets. In the early days of my treatment, this was a huge issue in my diet. When I revamped my cupboards, I threw out white flour, sugar and sugar substitutes. Before diagnosis, I had always been weight conscious and used Splenda for baking. Now I won’t touch artificial sweeteners under any circumstances. Thank goodness I love to cook, because my new whole food based diet regime would require baking muffins, cookies and breads with wholesome and natural ingredients.

 

The basic premise for adjusting recipes is to use whole grain flours and natural sweeteners with low glycemic indexes. The glycemic index of a food is a measure of its effect on blood sugar levels. Since cancer is fueled by sugar which increases insulin levels in the blood, this is an important part of an anti-cancer diet. Low glycemic sweeteners include agave nectar (pure, raw, organic) stevia, erythritol, and coconut sugar.

 

 Coconut sugar and erythritol can be substituted in the same proportions in any recipe.  Stevia is not as useful in baking since a very small amount provides the same amount of sweetness as a cup of sugar. In fact, one tsp. of powdered or liquid stevia is equal to one cup of sugar.

 

 Using agave is possible but a bit more involved. Here’s how to adapt a recipe:

 

 1.         List the amounts of white and brown sugar and the liquid (milk, water, juice) you need.

 

2.         Find the temperature the dish will be baked at in the oven. Preheat the oven to 25 degrees F below the temperature named in the recipe. Agave browns faster than sugar. Without lowering the temperature, the food will brown too quickly and be dark on the outside and undercooked inside.

 

3.         Add the total amount of added sugars needed for your recipe and multiply it by 2/3. For example, if your recipe requires 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar add these together to get 1 cup total sugar. Multiply this by 2/3 to get the replacement amount of 2/3 cup agave nectar. For every 1 cup sugar in a recipe, you will use 2/3 cup agave.

 

4.         Reduce the total amount of liquids in your recipe by 2 tbsp. for each 1 cup of sugar you replace with 2/3 cup agave nectar. This means that if your recipe only has 1/2 cup sugar, you will replace that with 1/3 cup agave and put in 1 tbsp. less of liquid.

 

 5.         Bake your dish in the oven, but increase the cooking time by 6 percent at 25 degrees F lower than required in the recipe. For example, if your recipe says to bake a cake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F, you will bake it at 325 degrees F for 64 minutes.

  

In addition to natural, low-glycemic sweeteners, I changed to using healthy oils. Use olive oil for cooking and coconut oil for baking. As states in an earlier blog, oils should be organic and cold-pressed since heating oil destroys some of nutritional value and can produce free radicals. Coconut oil in baked goods does not give them a coconut flavor as you might expect but does yield a much moister product. Baked goods with coconut oil keep better in the refrigerator if not consumed right away.

 

Strategy 25 – Cancer Fighting Beans

We continually hear how fiber is so important for digestive health.  We often think of fiber as eating whole grain products, which are certainly essential, but we often neglect another important source of fiber, the legume or bean family.  Beans are not only an excellent source of fiber but are loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals that together are a powerful force in cancer prevention.

 

Beans include many varieties as well as green peas. Many people regard peas as a vegetable because they are either sold in the produce or frozen vegetable section, but they are in fact beans.  If you have had breast cancer, there is controversy over the consumption of soy and soybean products for estrogen receptor positive patients.  Soy is a powerful phytoestrogen so I err on the side of caution and try of avoid soy as much as possible.

 

The phytochemicals in beans that are found naturally in plants and appear to protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer include:

1. saponins - have shown the ability to inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells and slow the growth of tumors.

2. protease inhibitors – have shown the ability to slow the division of cancer cells and help to prevent tumors     from releasing substances called proteases that destroy nearby cells.

3. phytic acid-has the ability to significantly slow the progression of tumors.

Canned beans are easy and convenient sources of nutrients and protein.  The Eden organic brand is packaged in cans that are BPA free and so they are my first choice.

Incorporating beans into your daily menu may be challenging at first, but well worth the effort.  To help you get started, I am including a recipe from my book which is fast and easy and delicious.  Give it a try and I hope you’ll agree.  Bon appetite!

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups organic vegetable broth

1 can organic crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon chopped or dried basil

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

3 carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 package frozen peas

1 package frozen corn

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 can organic red kidney beans – drained & rinsed

1 1/2 cups whole wheat macaroni pasta or quinoa

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except pasta in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add the pasta and cook on high for 20-30 minutes, or until pasta is done cooking.  Makes 6 servings of minestrone soup.

  

Strategy 26 – Spice up your life for Prevention

 

Eating a variety of spices is just as important as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables when it comes to recruiting allies in the fight against cancer.  Traditional Chinese Medicine promotes the use of herb teas and spices as natural remedies for almost any ailment, but especially for cancer prevention.  I have already spoken at length about the power of Tumeric and its undisputed use even by conventional medicine in preventing inflammation and the formation of free radicals that lead to cancer. Some other common herbs that help fight cancer are basil, parsley, oregano, mint, dill and garlic.

 

 Oregano, perhaps one of the more frequently used herbs for Mediterranean dishes, has potent antioxidants that protect the cell. Just one tablespoon of oregano has more protection than an entire apple. Of course, you probably wouldn't simply eat a tablespoon full, but adding it to a blend of cancer fighting tomatos, garlic, onion and peppers to make a delicious sauce can satisfy any hungry family and help protect them at the same time.

  

Basil contains numerous compounds and other substances that have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Basil may help alleviate type 2 Diabetes by improving insulin control. Carnosol, a component of basil, has been shown to inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells. While the evidence is mixed as to whether basil can slow the growth of liver tumors in experimental mice, it has been shown to inhibit liver cancer from spreading.

 

 There are increasing numbers of studies on the health effects of parsley. Its phytochemicals affect the speed of cell division, leaving time for the cell to correct DNA mistakes or to activate cell death. It has phytochemicals that effect and reduce inflammation.

 

 Mint has been shown to be effective in destroying blood vessels that supply tumors. Cancer needs to invade blood vessels so it can travel to other parts of the body, and  needs to hijack nutrients from the blood to nourish tumors and multiply. 

 

Dill has many medicinal properties, which mainly come from certain compounds called Monoterpenes, flavonoids, minerals and certain amino acids. The chemoprotective Monoterpenes are very effective in neutralizing carcinogens, particularly Cyano- and Benzo- derivatives and free radicals, thereby protecting from cancer. The other anti-oxidants in essential oils of dill also contribute to this.

 

 Garlic belongs to the family of vegetables called Allium, which also includes onions, scallions, leeks and chives. In animal studies, components in Allium vegetables have slowed the development of cancer in several stages and at various body sites including stomach, breast, esophagus, colon and lung.

 

The moral of the story is once again, cancer prevention begins in your kitchen.  Stir fry some colorful vegetables in olive oil, garlic, basil or oregano and you have a powerful cancer-fighting combination.  It’s also wonderfully delicious!

 

 Strategy 27 – Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I sought out any and all books published by survivors who had successfully overcome their cancers.  One of my favorites and perhaps the most useful with regards to diet and lifestyle strategies was Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, a dedicated scientist and doctor. When David was diagnosed with brain cancer, his life was completely changed.  His book chronicles his 20-year battle with brain cancer and why the traditional Western diet creates the conditions for this disease.  As a result, he developed a science-based anticancer diet.  Many people with cancer have adopted David’s book as their bible for survival.  So have I.

 

Here is an excerpt from David’s book describing his research process:

"I spent months researching the healing powers of food before I fully grasped my own natural cancer-fighting potential. I met with a variety of researchers, scoured medical databases, and combed scientific publications. I traveled all over the world and consulted experts from nearly every continent."

"The first thing I learned is that we all carry cancer cells in us, even if only a few. But we also have natural defenses that usually prevent these cells from becoming an aggressive disease. These defenses include our immune system; the bodily functions that control inflammation; and foods that reduce the growth of blood vessels needed by tumors."

 

I highly recommend that anyone diagnosed with cancer purchase David’s book.  I keep it close at hand and reference it continually. I have already spoken of many of David’s strategies in previous blogs, but here is a good summary:

Inflammation aggravators (which can lead to cancer):

Traditional Western diet

White bread and pasta

Red meat, raised industrially    

Oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy)          

Dairy products from industrially raised livestock (especially full fat)        

Eggs from industrial farming hens fed corn and soy beans)              

Unmanaged stress, anger and depression                 

Less than 20 minutes of physical activity a day                                                                

Cigarette smoke, atmospheric pollution, domestic pollutants

Inflammation reducers (help prevent cancer):

 Mediterranean, Indian and Asian cuisine

 Wholewheat bread and pasta

 Organic meat from animals fed on grass or with flaxmeal, eaten at most three times a week

 Olive oil

 Dairy products mainly from animals fed on grass

 Eggs of hens raised in a natural environment or fed flaxmeal

 Laughter, lightheartedness, serenity

 A 50-minute walk three times a week or 30 minutes six times a week

 Clean environment

 

Strategy 28 –Go Nuts for Prevention

Nuts are a popular snack but most people may not realize that they are a super health food.  In fact, nuts are a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fiber.  The best way to consume nuts are to have them raw and unsalted or with sea salt.  I enjoy almond butter on my wholegrain toast or English muffin each morning for breakfast.  There are different opinions on which is the healthiest, almond or walnut, but you can’t go wrong with either. One thing on which all experts agree; when it comes to nuts, variety is best. 

 

Almonds are a phytochemical powerhouse.  One small serving of almonds contains 12 percent of your daily allowance of protein and no cholesterol.  They have as much calcium as milk, and contain magnesium, vitamin E, selenium and lots of fiber. They can even lower cholesterol and almonds are the best whole food source of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which may help prevent cancer.

 

Walnuts are extremely good for your heart and brain. Research has found that they contain healthy fatty acids that slow down the growth of breast cancer. Walnuts are one of several nuts that have been recognized by the FDA as having less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g, which makes them a good choice for the prevention of heart disease. They are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that lower LDL cholesterol, high in omega 3s that help your brain cells take in nutrients and eliminate waste products, help prevent gallstones, aid in sleep (they have natural melatonin), and help protect thinning bones.

 

Pecans have tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and zinc.  Pecans are high in oleic acids. Agreeable to laboratory tests, oleic acid is capable of suppressing the abnormal activities of gene cells that are responsible for triggering breast cancer incidences. They also help lower cholesterol.

 

Brazil Nuts are a good source of protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and selenium. Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium in the diet. Selenium helps control blood sugar and since sugar feeds cancer, eating Brazil nuts is a good cancer inhibitor.

 

Pine Nuts contain Vitamins A, B, D, E, P and iron. They also provide 70% of your body’s required amino acids.

 

Cashews are rich in minerals like copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and biotin.  They are actually a low-fat nut, and like olive oil, they have a high concentration of oleic acid, which is good for your heart. According to Dr. Andrew Saul, one big handful of cashews provides one to two thousand milligrams of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressant Prozac. 

 

The misconception that nuts are high in fat and unhealthy is simply false.  Nuts roasted in oil are a different than raw, organic nuts.  It’s the roasting and excessive salt that is the problem, not the nuts themselves.  So when it comes to cancer prevention, it’s OK to go nuts for nuts!

 

Strategy 29 –Healing Juices

Our bodies have been gifted with marvelous self-healing capabilities.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the most healing foods that God has given us for that purpose. Juicing makes it easy for our bodies to absorb high quality nutrients to feed our cells.  Juices are highly detoxifying and cleansing.  They help repair damage to our cells, heal and nourish.  The entire focus of my daily tips has been that a holistic diet is the key to healing and prevention.   Juicing takes eating healthy to yet another level.

 

In the initial two years following my diagnosis, I developed my own juicing program.  I purchased a Green Star Juicer and juiced organic fruits and vegetables faithfully.  Kale, celery, carrots, apples and spinach were my main ingredients.  Juicing, although incredibly beneficial, requires a significant time commitment.  I was retired so I easily had the time.  I realize that many people simply do not.  One strategy that was very helpful was juicing every few days, and freezing the juice in ice cube trays.  Although not ideal, since the juice is most beneficial right after juicing, it was better than not juicing at all.

 

Six months later, I happened to be in Costco when a Vitamix Blender was being demonstrated.  Vegetable smoothies were available for sampling and the presenter was making a lime and spinach recipe.  A tasting was offered and it was delicious! Purists will argue that juicing is better than blending because juicing requires next to no digestion and can be absorbed and assimilated immediately into the bloodstream, allowing the digestive system to rest. The fact if the matter is, blending is a lot easier.  Human nature being what it is, the easier method is usually the choice. The important thing is to pick one…whichever one you choose, but to faithfully do it.

 

In my case, I purchased a Vitamix, and must confess I prefer it over my juicer.  I do still juice kale and spinach and freeze the juice in ice cube trays and add one or two cubes to my smoothie, but the Vitamix is so convenient and easy to use, that it’s part of my daily routine. Blending keeps the pulp as well as the juice so it’s a simple task to achieve 5-7 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. 

 

The best base is apple juice, apple cider or coconut water.  I begin by adding enough liquid to the bottom of the blender to just cover the blades.  I then add spinach, kale and either blueberries, cherries or strawberries.  You can also add lime or ginger depending on your taste.  The important ingredient is the greens, the most powerful anti-cancer agents.

If a Vitamix is not within your budget, try to purchase the best affordable machine.  A regular blender simply is not powerful enough to liquefy solids, and the texture and consistency of your smoothie will not make it appetizing. 

 

I think if you’d have to choose between either buying a blender or juicer, a blender would be a better, more practical choice to start with. Smoothies are fun to make and let’s not forget: a blender can do more than just blend smoothies! What about chopping, making sauces and dips, or even making nut butters (high speed blenders)? However, a juicer will bring your already healthy lifestyle to a new level.

 

Strategy 30 –Not All Chocolate is Created Equal

Today's blog will focus on something unthinkable when discussing tips for good health.  Tonight’s blog is about candy, or something we have become to think of as candy.  Dark chocolate may be sold in the candy aisle of your local supermarket, but it’s not. Dark chocolate is actually plant derived and has benefits similar to its dark vegetable counterparts.

Dark chocolate’s high cocoa content and abundance of flavonoids make it a healthy choice.  Dark chocolate bars with a high-cocoa content of at least 65% are rich in epicatechin.  Epicatechin is an extremely active member of a group of compounds called plant flavonoids. Flavonoids act as antioxidants to prevent free radical damage that can lead to cancer, keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. 

 

The key is exercising self-control and not over doing it since all chocolate is high in calories.  A little bit is enough to reap all the benefits. The best choices are pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other natural flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings as this just adds sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits.

One more tip…when eating dark chocolate, skip the glass of milk.  Milk inhibits antioxidants from being absorbed by your body.

  

Summary

 

 

 

Making lifestyle changes is never easy, old habits are hard to break. I hope you have selected a few of the changes and that you on your way to a healthier life.  Please visit www.sisters4prevention.com for other prevention strategies.

 

Strategy 1 – Drink water with lemons/limes to detox your body

 

Strategy 2 – Pack Your Sneakers & Get Moving Strategy 3 – Vitamin D & Green Tea

 

Strategy 4 – The B’s of Prevention:  Berries and Broccoli Are Your Breasts’ Friends

 

Strategy 5 – When to buy organic?-The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen

 

Strategy 6 – Daily Plan for Adding More Fruits and Veggies to Your Daily Diet

 

Strategy 7 –  All meat and dairy are not created equal

 

Strategy 8 –  Tumeric…Cancer’s Enemy

 

Strategy 9 –  Magic Mushrooms - mushrooms help prevent breast cancer

 

Strategy 10 – The Miracle of Coconut Oil

 

Strategy 12 – Sugar Blues

 

Strategy 13 – Benefits of Whole Grains

 

Strategy 14 – What’s in your make-up…if you only knew!

 

Strategy 15 – Kale…The Ultimate Green Machine

 

Strategy 16 – Limit Alcohol

 

Strategy 17 –The Power of Positive Thinking

 

Strategy 18 –Low Fat Lies

 

Strategy 19 –Vitamins: Raw is Best

 

Strategy 20 - Probiotics and Kombucha: Your Digestive System Will Feel the Love

 

Strategy 21 – Get Your Beauty Sleep

 

Strategy 22 – Beware of High Fructose Corn Syrup

 

Strategy 23 - Apple Cider Vinegar – More than Just for Salad

 

Strategy 24 – Healthy Cooking Tips

 

Strategy 25 – Cancer Fighting Beans

 

Strategy 26 – Spices for Prevention

 

Strategy 27 – Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life

 

Strategy 28 –Go Nuts for Prevention

 

Strategy 29 –Healing Juices

 

Strategy 30 –Not All Chocolate is Created Equal

 

 

Judy's Blog on Diet

 

Please visit my blog forum to see what tips and strategies other survivors have found helpful to achieve healthy living:

http://breastcancerteacher.wordpress.com/

Please join us to chat and share your own ideas.

 

Some of my tips on a healthy Diet:

Tip Number 1:  Give up Sugar

Sugar feeds cancer.  Most process foods have added salt and sugar to enhance flavor. Avoid processed food and take extra time to read labels. Giving up "sweets" was definitely a challenge for me as I loved baked goods.  I now use natural sweetners like stevia, truvia, agave and honey and bake desserts myself.  Truvia is a combination of stevia and erythritol and works well in baked goods.  Do not use artificial sweetners they are chemically based and not healthy.

Tip Number 2:  Avoid Meat and Dairy raised with hormones. 

Be careful if the label reads vegetarian fed.  They could be vegetarian fed but raised on soy based feed.  Estrogen receptor positive breast cancers feed on soy. Modern farming involves feeding animals hormones to increase milk production and fatten them for slaughtering.  Antibiotics are used to keep animals healthy that are raised in cramped conditions.  To be sure...buy grass-fed animal products.

More tips to come!

 

Judy's Blog on Life Style

This is Judy's Blog with healthy life style tips.

Tip Number 1:  Get Moving

The most important lifestyle tip I learned was how essential exercise was to preventing breast cancer.  Twenty to thirty minutes per day at least five days a week can reduce recurrance by 40-50%.  This is the most common tip recommended by oncologists.

More tips ...stay tuned