September is Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be over 1.6 million new cancer cases (not limited to Ovarian and Prostate) in 2017. In honor of cancer awareness, FitBliss strives to educate readers on optimal wellness and provide tips on health practices that can help decrease cancer risk. Chronic disease incidences of cancer, heart disease and diabetes may be due to a variety of factors including genetics and lifestyle patterns (eating, exercise, smoking or stress management). We will be tackling a few of our favorite research-based health tips for well-being and longevity!
- Smoking is the leading cause of cancer. Educating clients on the importance of eliminating this behavior will help increase health status and protect cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer disease incidence.
FitBliss Tip: Recommend quitting smoking followed by maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
- Focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Increased body weight is associated with a variety of health risks and approximately 117,000 cancer cases.3 Body weight especially around the abdomen puts individuals at risk of obesity-related diseases and cancer.3 Clients are encouraged to maintain a body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) between 18.5 to 24.9.
FitBliss Tip: Recommend maintaining a body weight within the BMI range, avoid foods rich in sugar and saturated fats (examples include: sugar-rich beverages, fried foods, fast-foods). Try sparkling water, unsweetened tea, adding berries to your water, add cinnamon to coffee or tea!
- Focus on exercise! Exercise not only helps keep weight stable and help meet weight loss goals, but also helps decrease stress.
FitBliss Tip: Recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week. Focus on activity that helps increase the heart-rate (examples include: dancing, running, hiking, biking). The more active one stays the better!
- Increase your intake of plant-based foods. A plant-rich diet provides more vitamins, minerals and healing properties that prevent the onset on cancer and help protect the body from oxidative damage.
FitBliss Tip: Focus on colors. Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruits and non-starchy veggies (Our favorite picks: berries, broccoli, cauliflower, apples). According to one study, a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and olive oil was associated with decreased cancer risk.
- Add whole grains to your daily meal plan! We encourage clients to consume at least 25-30 gm per day. Fiber-rich foods will help protect against specifically colorectal cancer, will help increase bulk, dilute harmful substances, protect the colon, and help control body weight.
FitBliss Tip: Try oatmeal for breakfast! Add brown rice to lunch and top your salad off with a side of quinoa! When hungry between meals, try adding a snack of lentils or dip whole grain crackers into a black bean dip!
- Decrease your intake of red meat. Limiting the amount of red meat and avoiding processed meat reduces the risk of certain types of cancer. More than 18 oz of red meat (such as beef, lamb) per week increases the risk of colorectal cancers (up to 6 ounces cooked- 3 times per week or up to 3 ounces 6 times per week). Also processed meats such as smoking, salting, curing like that of deli meats, bacon, hot dogs can increase chronic disease risk.
FitBliss Tip: Choose fresh protein sources and look for sources without added nitrates or nitrites. Limit processed meats to special occasions and red meat to no more than twice per week. Avoid cooking meat at high temperatures and focus on a foundation of lean protein sources such as grilled chicken and fish.
- Decrease alcohol consumption. Recent evidence suggests that alcohol intake may increase the risk of several cancers including larynx, esophagus, liver, breast and colorectal. Alcohol is recognized as a product that may lead to DNA damage. For cancer prevention, alcohol is not recommended, however, given that there are studies that suggest a protective effect on heart disease, if you do drink alcohol for these reasons, no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women (12 fl oz of regular beer, 5 fl oz table wine, 1.5 fl oz shot).
FitBliss Tip: If drinking regularly throughout the week, make it a goal to limit yourself to no more than 1-2 per week. Swap alcoholic beverages for fresh juice!
In addition to the wellness tips above, research suggests that phytochemicals are considered “cancer fighting foods”. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals that research shows can influence a variety of chemical processes, such as protecting the immune system and blocking certain foods we eat from damaging the DNA. A few phytochemicals include carotenoids (such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein) found in red, orange or green fruits and vegetables; flavonoids (such as anthocyanins and quercetin) found in apples, citrus fruits, onions, coffee and tea; indoles and glucosinolates (such as cruciferous vegetables) including cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts; polyphenols (such as resveratrol) found in green tea, grapes, wine and berries; isoflavones found in soy (mostly in soybeans) that according to one study has been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer (when consuming an average of 25-50 mg/day—example: 1 to 2 servings of soy foods in the form of 4 oz of tofu or 8 oz of soymilk). 7,
Focusing on healthy lifestyle behaviors will be key but it will also be important to note that genetics play a role too. Getting in touch with your physician and learning about your specific health risks will also be important as clients may need to adjust their lifestyle behaviors, physical activity and meal patterns accordingly. Preventing chronic disease requires a whole-body approach. Mental well-being will be just as important as optimal nutrition, exercise and lifestyle! Find ways that help you de-stress and provides you a “mental calm”!
Yasi Ansari, MS, RDN, CSSD
Yasi currently works as a Clinical Dietitian through Sodexo at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, Hoag Orthopedic Institute and Hoag for Her Center for Wellness in Southern California. Yasi’s previous work includes a position as the Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Athletics fueling student athletes and nutritional work at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Yasi also works as a health and nutrition content writer for local dietitians and physicians. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication Studies from UCLA and a Master of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Nutrition and Dietetics from Cal State University, Northridge. She is passionate in educating clients, corporate wellness facilities, patients and students on the importance of optimal nutrition for performance, wellness and longevity.
Follow @spoonfulofyaas on Instagram for more information.
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 Healthy eating and activity for living well: A cancer nutrition guide. American Institute for Cancer Research, The LIVESTRONG Foundation and Savor Health. http://www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/education/heal-well-guide.pdf. Accessed August 29, 2017.
 Castello A, Boldo E, Amiano P, et al. Mediterranean dietary pattern is associated to low risk of aggressive prostate cancer: MCC-Spain study. J Urol. 2017; pii: S0022-5347(17)77385-5. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2017.08.087.
 Get the facts on fiber. American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_fiber.html. Accessed August 29, 2017.
 The facts about red meat and processed meat. American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). http://www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/brochures/red-processed-meats.pdf. Accessed August 29, 2017.
 The facts about alcohol. American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). http://www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/brochures/facts-about-alcohol.pdf. Accessed August 29, 2017.
 Phytochemicals: The cancer fighters in your foods. American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_phytochemicals.html. Accessed August 29, 2017.
 Messima M, Nagata C, Wu AH. Estimated asian adult soy protein and isoflavone intakes. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):1–12.