Five Easy Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Small changes to your diet and lifestyle that can make a big impact. If you are not fighting your own battle with cancer today, chances are you know someone who is, or someone who has either already lost or won their fight.

Cancer is becoming more and more common every year. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly one-quarter of deaths in the United States are cancer related, exceeded only by heart diseases. In 2009, the American Cancer Society predicts that 1.5 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed. The most common cancers in men are prostate, lung and colorectal. In women it is breast followed by lung and colorectal cancers.

The good news is that there are changes we can make to our daily diets and lifestyles that can help reduce our risk of becoming part of the millions directly affected.

Eliminate Sugars and Artifcials Sweetners
Research tells us that insulin, the hormone that ultimately regulates how blood sugar is used by our bodies for fuel, is related to many chronic diseases, not just diabetes. When we eat foods that keep our insulin levels elevated for extended periods of time, this affects how our cells function and ultimately how they communicate with each other. According to Mehmet Oz, MD, when cells do not communicate normally, they begin to behave in odd and irregular ways, providing the basis of chronic disease, including cancer. Avoid processed foods, such as soda, muffins, donuts and bagels, which are bound to have simple sugars, guaranteeing elevated insulin levels. Focus on adding fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains into your diet instead which maintain your insulin levels so that your body operates normally, thus preventing chronic disease including cancer.

Drink Water
Every organ in our body from our lungs to our skin needs water to run correctly. Without water, our bodies do not run as efficiently. Drink half of your weight in ounces each day. If this sounds challenging to you, do not drink any other fluids until you have finished drinking your water for the day.

Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular exercise is proven to help reduce insulin levels and also allows our bodies to be more receptive to the insulin that is already in our body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “being overweight or obese may increase your risk of cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach and uterus”. When we are overweight, we typically have high insulin levels, which as noted above has a direct correlation to cancer.

Add Cruciferous Vegetables
These vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy) are really the super veggie. According to WebMD, they are loaded with phytochemicals (also called phytonutrients – these are health protecting compounds found in plants), vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are proven to slow the growth of tumors in the breast, lung, colon, liver, cervix. The photochemicals in these vegetables help stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify and eliminate carcinogens before they damage cells. Another bonus; these super-powered vegetables help reduce oxidative-stress, which reduces free radicals in the body. This may reduce the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.

Incorporate Dark Leafy Greens
These greens (bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and broccoli) are a great tool in cancer prevention. Spinach, swiss chard and beet greens while also considered to be dark leafy greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which depletes calcium from bones and teeth, and may lead to osteoporosis. Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.

Penina Bareket is a Holistic Health Counselor specializing in disease prevention.

Green Tea: Ancient Beverage, Modern Health Brew

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Around the globe, tea holds an exalted place among beverages. Actually, next to water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Among the different types of tea, Green tea is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, but they are processed differently, which is what sets Green tea apart. The secret of Green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a very powerful antioxidant with many known health benefits, and how these antioxidants are preserved is by steaming the tea leaves (which creates Green and White teas) instead of fermenting the leaves (which produces black and oolong teas). The fermentation process causes the EGCG to be converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.

History of Green Tea:

According to Chinese legend, the story of Green tea began in 2737 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung, who was known as the ‘Devine Healer’, always boiled his water before drinking it for better health. One afternoon, as he knelt before his boiling water, some leaves from a nearby shrub blew into the water. The Emperor noted a delightful aroma and, upon sipping the beverage, proclaimed it heaven-sent.

For many years in ancient China, tea was a costly drink, consumed only by royalty and the wealthy. However, following the fall of the Mongolian Empire back in 1368 AD, the whole population of China began to experience the wonderful consumption of tea, including the much-prized Green tea.

In the early 1400s BC, Chinese seamen roamed the seas and took with them their Green tea to ward off the illnesses that plagued European sailors, such as scurvy. This amazing tea became a trade-good eventually, sought after for its delicate taste and health giving benefits, and found its way around the world.

Interesting note: A book titled “The Book of Tea” was written by Lu Yu in 780 AD, in China. Lu Yu described numerous health benefits of Green tea, and was given the name the “patron saint” of tea.

Health Benefits of Green Tea:

Green tea and multiple health benefits should be synonymous!

  • Weight Loss: According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Green tea appears to accelerate calorie burning – including fat calories. The six-week study showed that the participants who took Green tea extract with their typical ‘western’ diet that consisted of 40% fat, burned more calories during the day than the caffeine and placebo groups. Green tea induces a thermogenic effect that is helpful in burning fat, which is why it is widely available as a dietary supplement, in diet pills and weight-loss plans.
  • Heart Health: One study found that one of the active compounds in Green tea is as effective as aspirin in keeping blood platelets from clumping together, which improves circulation and may prevent hardening of the arteries. Drinking Green tea regularly helps protect the heart against a range of medical conditions including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and reduces LDL (the bad cholesterol).
  • Combat Arthritis and Osteoporosis: A study done at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio found that the antioxidants found in Green tea, known as polyphenols, effectively reduce the incidence and severity of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s interesting to note that people in India, China, and Japan (large consumers of Green tea) have a much lower rate of rheumatoid arthritis than elsewhere around the world. A surprising discovery by British researchers is that tea helps prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
  • Cancer Preventative: Polyphenols, the powerful antioxidants in Green tea are thought to be more powerful than vitamin C & E in their ability to mop up potentially cancer-causing free-radicals and destroy cancer cells without adversely affecting normal cells. Prolonged consumption of Green tea has been linked to greatly reduced risks of developing many forms of cancer, including cancer of the esophagus, stomach and the bladder.

The beneficial effects of Green tea on health are so numerous and diverse that a comprehensive description of them is likely to run into dozens of pages and we simply don’t have the space in this article. However, we urge you to do further reading and research on Green tea and enjoy a cup of the brew while you’re doing it. It’s not just for Royalty anymore!