Here are seven changes you can make to save your life or extend it!
You may be concerned about the “big two” aging fears (cancer and Alzheimer’s). This month we focus on cancer and the July issue will be (again) on Alzheimer’s. By the way, every year these suggestions get so many rave reviews that they are re-sent, forwarded and “re-gifted”. Feel free to do so.
The following changes will reduce your risk of cancer. Let’s look at some recent studies.
Seven Changes to save your life
This year, more than 1 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be mostly preventable. In fact, the proportion of genetic factors and environmental factors towards cancer risk is surprising. Cancers have a paltry 5–10% genetic heritability. Environmental factors contribute a massive 90–95%. Let’s look at seven contributing factors.
1. Eat more of the foods packed with anti-oxidants. This is the group of super foods to choose from that reduces or repairs damage from free radicals. Choose any foods from these groups. If you dislike five of them, eat the ones you do like. To get any value at all, eat something from this group 4-5 days a week. Eating these once a month or once a week is a joke; you’re kidding yourself if you think your body will change from a 3 oz. per month exposure.
Here’s the list: sweet potatoes, watermelon, colored berries (like blueberries -frozen is OK), cold water fatty fish like salmon, colorful vegetables (such as peppers, cauliflower (OK… it’s not very colorful), broccoli, kale, etc.), green tea, olive oil, dark chocolate (60-65% is best), plain Greek yogurt, mangos and papayas. If you like fish, great! If you like pork or red meat, eat more from the healthier range fed animals.
2. Put fewer toxic products into your body. Please start reading the labels of what you put into your body. The products that absolutely MUST be safe for your body are the ones that you either ingest or put on your skin regularly. This means PAY attention to the ingredients that interact with your body, especially shampoo, conditioner, hair coloring products, deodorant, face cleaning products, soaps and makeup products. One time usage does not put you at risk. But using a dangerous underarm deodorant 3 inches from your breasts, or a risky shampoo for forty years is a higher-risk behavior.
For example, avoid the “Parabens.” They’re a family of chemicals used in various personal-care products and have long been linked to cancer. They disrupt estrogen function. Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. Consumer Reports say that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use. Read the label: avoid personal care products with retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone. Stay away from products with hormonal disrupters like bisphenol-A found in hard plastic bottles. Think healthy, read labels, and make small but lasting changes. You’ve just started to lower your risks!
3. Eat less of the “slow risk” foods. You won’t die from these this week, but over the long haul, they’re not good. Three of the worst offenders are sugar, white rice, and white bread (all are “high glycemic index” foods). They boost your blood sugar levels TOO high, then you produce extra insulin in the pancreas. Any product you buy that has more than five ingredients is suspect. Any product that has ingredients that you can’t pronounce is suspect. I always get asked, “Don’t you ever eat junk food, like chips?” Sure, some are pretty decent. I like Fritos Corn Chips, and a few other brands of chips are also healthy. Do you think healthier foods are expensive? How much does it cost you to miss a day of your life being sick? Stick with the healthier foods.
4. Reduce exposure to risk detection devices. This caution includes mammograms (take every 2-4 years to reduce risk), prostrate screening (once every 5-7 years), dental X-ray screening (take once every 2-3 years) and airport X-rays (less is better). All of these tests are typically defended by those who profit from them, but the science is NOT entirely clear on the safety when used often. That’s why I reduce the amount of radiation in my own body as much as possible. When traveling though airports, if I’ve got an extra few moments, they can pat me down. Better to be safe than sorry.
5. Move your body. If it’s 1-3 floors at a hotel, take the stairs down to the lobby. If the escalator is packed, take the stairs. If you have to park an extra 30 ft. from the store entrance, embrace the walk. At home I swim or surf 6 days a week. I get out in the yard to do gardening, as does my wife. If you are a member of a gym, work out 3-6 days a week. If you are not a member, find something you love to do and do it daily. These activity requests are meant to nag you. They are listed because your body was designed to move!
6. Talk back to the voice in your head. Learn to manage your self-talk. If the voice in your head is replaying stressful conversations, redirect it to another more productive conversation. There are many reasons why people become depressed. Just one of them is their inner conversations that get them worked up into a stressed state. Most people think of depression as a medical condition or disease. Another point of view is that it’s a symptom that something’s “off” or “wrong” in your life.
When I hear people tell me about the voice in their head that replays stressful conversations or creates new ones, I ask the question, “And who is directing that voice in your head?” You are! Change the conversation to something more inspiring, optimistic and empowering. You are the driver of your bus. You are not a victim of the “inner voice”. If the voice is counter-productive, don’t feed it, re-direct it.
7. Get your Vitamin D. This is a miracle factor for prevention of problems. It supports your immune system to enhance Cold and Flu Protection. Vitamin D supports normal muscle production and strength, and a lack of the vitamin leads to muscle weakness, a reduced range of motion, and increased physical frailty. One study showed women could slash the risk of breast cancer in half by getting enough Vitamin D. When I’m not traveling, I try to get 10-15 min. a day of sunshine. There’s no risk of skin cancer at that short exposure and a HUGE upside. The Vitamin D factor helps facilitate healing from illnesses and helps metabolize the potassium and calcium needed for strong bones.
Cancer prevention requires smoking cessation, increased ingestion of fruits and vegetables, moderate-low use of alcohol, caloric restriction, sufficient exercise, avoidance of over-exposure to sunlight, minimal meat consumption, use of whole grains, use of vaccinations, getting enough Vitamin D, avoiding toxic personal care products and getting regular check-ups with fewer radiation doses.
While some of the suggestions above may not be new, every one is backed by solid science. I enjoy good health and never take it for granted. I have the immune system of one much younger than myself. Why? What you see on the list above are things that I also pay attention to and actually do every day.
My own lifestyle consists of constant work to maintain my immune system. The plan is working; I’ve been sick maybe once or twice in ten years. By the way I do follow the suggestions that I make; it’s my life hanging in the balance.
Even if you only made one change a month or even one per year, you’ll move yourself to greater health. Which change were you thinking of making? When?
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