Did you know that about 50% of the most common U.S. cancer cases are preventable? (American Institute for Cancer Research) February is National Cancer Prevention Month so it is a good time to focus on holistic habits to level up your health. Here we highlight healthy ways to maximize your health and well being for cancer prevention.
Being physically active can reduce your risk for certain cancers. Make sure to move your body for at least 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for youth.
Exercise helps our bodies:
- Regulate the hormones in our blood that contribute to cancer risk
- Speed up food through the colon to reduce exposure to carcinogens in our food
- Reduce body fat which can contribute to the development of many cancers
If you’re not already active, try to move your body in some way each day. This could be gently stretching before bed or going for a brisk walk outside. Maximize your time by stretching or jogging in place while your food cooks. If you are already active, try to exercise in a new way this month that you haven’t tried before to work new muscles and expand your fitness abilities. Sign up for a new fitness class and try boxing or yoga or lift weights if you normally run a lot!
Incorporating cancer protecting foods into your diet is another certain method to level up your health. Exercise, diet and not smoking or drinking alcohol are proven prevention methods for cancer. If you don’t already eat healthy, transition gradually by starting with incorporating one new healthy food or food group into your meals each day. Healthy food group guidelines include 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat dairy or plant milk options.
Here are some strategies for a cancer protecting diet:
- Eat mostly plant-based foods. This means more plant based proteins such as nuts, seeds and beans instead of steak or hamburgers.
- The phytochemicals found in plants are what give them their color, smell and flavor but they are also powerful nutrients to strengthen our bodies defenses against cancer. Phytochemicals strengthen our immune system, block food substances from becoming carcinogens or cancer causing, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and improve DNA repair, reduce damage to cells that can cause cancer, slow and stop growth of cancer cells and regulate hormones. Clearly, they are nutrient powerhouses we all need to be eating. Source
- Control your portion sizes. Not only is it important to be mindful of what we consume, it is also just as important to be mindful of how much we consume. Avoid eating large quantities in a short period of time to maximize digestive health.
Take some time this month to set an intention that can better your health and overall well being. We all need to be mindful of our behaviors so that we can live our most healthy and happy lives.