Four Pro-Active Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you some pro-active  steps that you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center, in the 1960’s, one out of every 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Today, one in eight women are likely to develop this disease.  Because breast cancer runs in my family,  I would like to think that I do everything that I can do to prevent it.   Of course I do the “active surveillance” that doctors recommend, meaning that I do self breast exams and go for periodic checks with the doctor with the hope that they don’t find anything.   To me, that seems more “in-active” than “active.”

What else can we do besides wait for breast cancer NOT to happen?  We can try to change the conditions in which the cancer grows in our bodies.  Here are three major steps we can take to keep breast cancer from thriving in our systems.

  • Decrease Sugar Intake:  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinical Center for Functional Medicine, the number one driver of cancer is sugar.  In fact, sugar is one of the most potent toxins in our food supply.  On average, Americans consumer 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour (which acts even worse than sugar in our bodies) every year.  Sugar and flour both increase the release of insulin in our bodies.  Because insulin is a growth hormone, having more of it in our systems makes cancer cells grow.  It also creates inflammation, both of which help cancer cells thrive.  Therefore, we want to have a low glycemic diet to reduce our risk of cancer.  For more about the glycemic diet, check out this link from Harvard Medical School: http://bit.ly/1uKuys5  .  Don’t wait to become diabetic before getting on a low-glycemic diet.
  • Increase Fiber, Prebiotic and Probiotic Intake.  In case you needed yet another reason to eat a high-fiber diet; a diet rich with fiber is important for your gastrointestinal tract (GI) and gut flora.  Did you know that 70% of your immune system is actually in your gut?  Furthermore, according to Dr. Hyman,  if the microorganisms in your gut are imbalanced, you run a higher risk of cancer.  Research shows that women who’ve take a lot of antibiotics in the past have an increased incidence of breast cancer because antibiotics affect the balance of gut flora.  In order to balance these microorganisms, consider eating more prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods, all of which are beneficial for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.  For more info click here:  http://bit.ly/1MgBv6N  and here:  http://bit.ly/1N26S7R .
  • Get Rid Of Toxins.  Of course we don’t eat toxins!  Or do we?  Nowadays, we are surrounded by toxins:  they are in plastics, pesticides, dry cleaning, and even skin care products.  These toxins act like estrogens in our body, binding to the receptors that are meant for estrogen, which can stimulate the pathways that drive cancer.  How to avoid toxins:
    1. Drink filtered water.
    2. Eat organic food (see www.ewg.org)
    3. Reduce toxic household products, including skin care products (again, see www.ewg.org for more info)
  • Alcohol.  There’s a reason I left this for last – it’s a tough one.  I was shocked to learn from Dr. Hyman that just one glass of alcohol per day increases your risk of breast cancer by 40%!  Because alcohol is a liver toxin, it affects your ability to metabolize estrogen, therefore there are higher levels of estrogen in your system if you drink alcohol. For more information regarding breast cancer and alcohol, check out this link:  http://bit.ly/1m5WHEN

    Here’s the takeaway:

  • Get rid of sugar in your diet.
  • Increase the amount of fiber, pre-biotics and pro-biotics in your diet.
  • Get rid of toxins in your food, water, skin care and household products by eating real food, filtered water, and using clean skincare and household products.  (Refer to www.ewg.org)
  • Limit alcohol to 3 glasses per week.

As I always say, just focus on one of these ideas, get it straight, and then add on another one.  Don’t try to do it all in one day.  What’s your first step going to be?

How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


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Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?

Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner?  Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day?  If this happens to you, you are not alone!  And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects.  In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline.  “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.”   There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY.  If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish.  These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods.  Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone.  When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).

So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks?  Dr. Hyman suggests the following:

1.  Have protein for breakfast.  I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake.  You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours:  a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter.  Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened).  Blend until smooth.  If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night.  It’s all tied together.

2.  Don’t drink your calories.  Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.”  Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite.  Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia.  You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.

3.  Eat at regular times.  Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals.  This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.

4.  Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat.   Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or  grass-fed beef every time you eat.  Add lots of green leafy vegetables.  This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.

5.  Manage your stress levels.  Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?”  It’s true!  When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food.  Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.

6.  GO TO BED!   Get a good night’s rest.  If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down.  So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things:  carbs and sugar.   The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.

7.  Address your food allergies.  Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to.  And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten.   Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.

8.  Supplements.  Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels.  Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX.  If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking.  NOTE:  You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions.  However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits.  To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going.  But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill.  (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).

As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go!  Good luck!

 

 

Photo from FitDay.com

“How Do I Get This Spot Right Here?” Can You Spot-Reduce?

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“How do I get this spot right here?”

My clients ask me this question all the time.  Those areas where fat loves to live:  love handles, thighs, abdomen, and triceps.  (Who remembers “Thin Thighs In Thirty Days” and Jane Fonda’s hydrants, hydrants, hydrants!)  We all have trouble spots on our body, spots where the fat just likes to accumulate.  It’s just where any extra weight wants to go.

Can you actually spot-reduce it away?  Can you perform exercises that target that area and reduce the amount of the fat there?  Well, yes.  And no.  (Did you really think you’d get a straight answer from me?)  Here’s the thing:  while you can perform exercises that target the muscles in that area (crunches for the ab fat, side bends for love handles, etc),  there will be very negligible effect on reducing the amount of fat stored in that particular spot.  Numerous studies have proven this over and over again.  But the myth lives on!

However, there’s a more interesting question here:  

Why does the fat in your body gravitate to that area?

Well, now we’re talking!  Internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, of Canada, has created the Biosignature Modulation Method.  This method is gaining in popularity with healthcare professionals, personal trainers and nutritionists.  Poliquin’s method focuses on achieving specific body fat reduction through hormone balance.  He says that fat accumulates in certain areas because certain hormones are out of whack.

Here’s a quick reference to how his system works:

  • Upper arms and chest – testosterone
  • Love handles and upper back – insulin
  • Upper abs and ribs – thyroid
  • Abdomen – cortisol
  • Bottom and thighs – estrogen
  • Chest and triceps – testosterone

If you’re having problems shifting weight from certain areas, have your body measured with skin-fold calipers by a qualified professional (ahem – me!).  Your trainer can then use that information to address the underlying hormone problems by designing an individualized nutrition plan, supplementation, lifestyle, or exercise schedule to address those areas, and re-test monthly to track changes.  Solutions can range from eating a higher protein diet and fewer carbs, to changing the types of exercise you perform, to eliminating the foods that are stressing your body.

It’s not a concept that everyone buys into, and it is not without its critics.  But there is mounting research that finds that hormones do play a role in deciding where your body stores fat.

“This system will never replace a medically conducted blood and hormone test,” says Joseph Coyne, a sports nutritionist, performance coach, and qualified Biosignature Practitioner.  “But it will give you a good approximation of what your problems might be, and is an excellent starting point for lose weight from a certain area.”