October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer affects many women and families in our society, and we at the Nassif Community Cancer Center offer our support to those fighting it. We believe there are many ways to help the body stay strong and maintain good breast health – here are a few suggestions:
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD DIET TO ENSURE BREAST HEALTH
While it is obvious that no specific food or diet contains the magic answer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, “strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.”
What to choose? Apples, blueberries, broccoli, cherries, cranberries, grapes, tomatoes, dark leafy vegetables, tea, squash, walnuts, flaxseed, legumes, whole grains (and garlic provide the most protection.* Many of these contain minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and omega acids that are critical.
Fruit and Vegetable Intake:
AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research) recommends adults try to eat a minimum of 3.5 to 5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day for overall good health and to lower cancer risk.
Newest guidelines also recommend decreasing sugar intake, decreasing saturated fats and replacing them with healthy fats such as omega essential fatty acids. (Oils from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils, as well as nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados).
“We are what we eat” and putting a priority on nutrition is essential to help women maintain balanced health in the face of challenges and stress.
A HEALTHY WEIGHT IS ESSENTIAL
According to breastcancer.org, a healthy weight reduces the risk of first-time breast cancer and the possibility of it showing up again. Studies have shown that women who gain weight after their first diagnosis are far more prone to recurrence. Stay active, and aim to do some physical exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, each week. And if you are currently being treated, try to slowly achieve this goal. Secondly, a low-fat diet is highly important to reducing the risk of diagnosis. In fact, this is true across many types of cancers. In a Women’s Health Initiative Trial in 2014, researchers found that women who had high-fat diets and changed to a healthier diet (i.e., ate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) saw overall improvements in health and wellbeing.
Next, limit your fat intake as much as possible. Start by eliminating foods with the highest fat content (fried foods, butter, desserts) and gradually reduce its portion in your diet. In addition, avoid trans fats, red meats, or charred or smoked foods as much as possible. Additionally, incorporate omega-3 fatty acids, which act as helpful, bioactive lipid mediators.