Many of us worry about breast cancer. Whether you have a family history of breast cancer, or you just know others who have been diagnosed, it seems that everyone’s lives have been touched by breast cancer. We might even feel it is just this looming possibility that we have no control over. However, there are many ways we can care for our breasts and put the odds in our favor.
As I have mentioned, 67% of what happens to us is caused by our lifestyle, not by our genetics. It is important to incorporate holistic breast care into our lifestyle, so we can fully optimize the 67% that we can control and put the odds in our favor.
Live a Healthy Life
As we begin to think about holistic breast care, we need to be living a healthy life for all the parts of our body. We cannot do something powerfully healthy for our breasts if we doing harmful things for our body most of the time. The main factors for caring for your breasts are the main factors for living a healthy life.
- Eat a whole foods diet. Focus on vegetables, and work to eliminate fast food, processed foods, and sugar.
- Exercise. Start small: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk around the block after dinner. As your stamina increases, add more time or intensity to your exercise.
- Drink water. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water every day.
- Sleep. Plan your bedtime so you can get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Lower stress. Try meditation as a tool. Learn to control your breath, and lower anxiety.
Holistic Breast Care
In addition to those five items as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, there are a few things that we can do specifically to care for our breasts:
- Add these foods:
Healthy, whole foods are the best choice to support the health of our bodies. But did you know that there are specific foods that we can add that support healthy breast tissue? We need a lot of vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale are all rich in phytonutrients and indole-3-carbinol, which promotes breast health. We can also add more vegetables by drinking vegetable juice. Vegetable juice allows you to get all of the nutrients, but you can fit in a larger quantity and variety of vegetables.
Add healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and fatty fish like salmon, cod, and haddock.
Green tea is full of polyphenols and is anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and is anti-cancer. Drinking one cup a day offers all those properties.
Adding garlic and ginger is also beneficial for their antioxidant properties.
- Avoid certain foods:
Sugar. Sugar causes spikes in our insulin and can change our leptin levels. It’s important to keep these levels normalized, and we can do that by eliminating sugar.
Processed food. Replace processed food with real, whole foods. For example, when it comes to snack time, trade in your processed granola bar for an apple and a handful of almonds.
Alcohol. Drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
- Try adding some supplements:
Vitamin D. In studies, vitamin D has been shown to reduce cell division. That can be beneficial because it can prevent cancerous cells from multiplying rapidly. Your levels should be 70-100 ng/mL. Taking Vitamin D with Vitamin K2 can make it safer and more effective, particularly in preventing cancer.
Curcumin (found in Tumeric) and iodine are also helpful as supplements. Curcumin is an antioxidant and iodine helps thyroid function and hormones.
- Use a natural deodorant free of aluminum and parabens. There are an increasing number of options available in your local drugstores that are effective. It can take time to adjust from an antiperspirant to a deodorant, but if you continue to use the deodorant, your body will adjust.
- Consider your hormones. Hormonal contraceptives are classified as a group one carcinogen. If you take or use a hormonal contraceptive, consider your alternative options. There are alternative options for both contraception and menstrual symptoms.
- Consider your bra. There are many conflicting studies, but our lymphatic system has concentrated nodes in our armpits and extending down our torso. If you wear an underwire bra, it can restrict the flow of the lymphatic system. There are many new options for non-underwire bras, because many bra companies are designing and selling bralettes that don’t use underwire and work for all sizes and body types.
- Massage. A self breast massage can help move the lymphatic fluid. It also reduces breast discomfort. You can turn this into a self-care ritual at the end of the day.
With these strategies and tools, you can alter your lifestyle, increase your breast health, and put the odds in your favor.
This article was originally published on Small Changes, Big Shifts in October 2017.