If you do only one thing to improve your health, make it exercise. With regular exercise, you will be happier, fitter, more energized and will sleep better. And you will reduce cancer risk in a dramatic way: Exercising at least 30 minutes a day, six days per week, can reduce cancer risk 40 to 60 percent for colon and breast cancers, with sizable risk reduction for other common cancers. Remember, exercise is sustainable when it’s fun, so choose activities you enjoy.
About 30 percent of all cancers could be prevented through a healthy diet. Think of your diet as a seesaw. Right now it might be weighted down on one side by unhealthy foods. Your goal is to eat more of certain foods that add weight to the high end of the seesaw while eating fewer of the unhealthy foods to reduce weight (pun intended!) on the other end. Eat more naturally colorful vegetables and fruits (at least five colors every day); unprocessed foods (foods should look as much as possible like they did while growing in the ground); chewy and crunchy whole foods such as whole grains, seeds and nuts; and lean protein (the white meats). These foods provide essential cancer-fighting antioxidants, immune-supportive vitamins and minerals, and anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids. Eat less refined sugar (desserts, cookies, candy), refined flour (white bread and pasta), alcohol (no more than one drink per day for women, no more than two per day for men) and saturated fat (fatty, conventionally raised red meat, baked goods such as doughnuts and cookies). These foods are promote inflammation, reduce immunity and feed a pre-diabetic condition known as insulin resistance. All increase your cancer risk.
Even with a healthy diet, it is hard to get all of the health-promoting nutrients we need. While a good diet lays the foundation for health, targeted dietary supplements can zero in on key cancer-defensive pathways. Although the best dietary supplement program is one individualized under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner, there are some supplements that provide benefit to most of us. These include EPA and DHA from fish or algae oil, vitamin D3 (get a blood test for vitamin D levels first), antioxidants (such as Setria glutathione, the master antioxidant, along with vitamins C and E, and selenium), medicinal herbs such as green tea, turmeric and milk thistle, and probiotics (friendly bacteria that live in the gut and support immunity, reduce inflammation and improve mood).
Relaxation and rejuvenation are important pillars of cancer prevention. Relaxation is the perfect antidote to stress. Unmanaged stress wreaks havoc on our health, unraveling all the good work we are doing with exercise, diet and supplementation. While we can’t always control stress levels, we can control our response to it. Daily time to play, sit and ponder, and laugh and giggle are all ways to reset our stress response system. A critical key: Most people need at least eight hours of sleep every night to repair damaged DNA, balance critical hormones and blood sugar, support active immunity and stimulate detoxification of cancer-causing compounds.
Reducing cancer risk requires a long-term commitment to health, vitality and exuberant living. When there is a goal to reduce cancer risk, there is also a desire to live a meaningful, loving and contributory life. When we align ourselves with this greater purpose, everything else falls into place and we can experience deep and vital living.
More information about reducing cancer risk can be found in the book Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan (Active Interest Media, 2011) or at fivetothriveplan.com.
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