As seen in 24/7 Magazine, September 2016 – Click to read more!
Breast cancer is something that is on every woman’s mind. We are afraid of it, we are mindful of it, and we pray it does not happen to us. However, according to the latest statistics, 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. That means everyone knows someone who has received the diagnosis. Perhaps you have.
In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Clearly we have an epidemic sweeping our nation, attacking the very source of what Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., a women’s health expert, claims is the physical metaphor for nurturing, giving, and receiving.
While breast cancer is often on our minds, breast health should be the primary focus. We have been told time and again that our genes determine our health; our propensity towards certain illnesses and disease. Thus, up until recently, we have felt victim to our genetic make-up. However, leaders in epigenetics are now disproving that theory, and giving hope that through healthy diet and lifestyle choices, and a positive mindset, you can indeed influence your well-being and turn genes on and off. This means that what was once thought predetermined is now only a minor factor. With this new information we can shift our focus to preventive health, of which diet is a leading component.
What you eat daily has a great influence over your health and risk of disease. Regularly consuming processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and harmful fats will increase your chances for disease because those products do not nutritionally support your body. To ensure breast health, and prevent most illnesses, you need a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits and quality fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and grass-fed, pastured butter. Your body knows what to do with these foods, and converts them to energy to feed and fuel each cell, ensuring protection and health.
When it comes to breast health, eating an organic, whole foods based diet will go a long way. Additionally, there are specific foods that are incredibly powerful in preventing breast cancer. Here are five powerful foods for essential breast health:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts all contain a component that decreases estrogen’s ability to bind to breast tissue. These foods also contain a special compound that can protect against a cancer-causing form of estrogen.
- Sea vegetables: These often forgotten vegetables like kelp, dulse and kombu are an essential form of iodine – a mineral that is highly protective of breast and thyroid tissue. Iodine can also be found in organic potato skins, raw cheeses, navy beans and cranberries, but sea vegetables are the richest source.
- Turmeric: The anti-inflammatory component called curcumin is abundantly found in this yellow-orange root. Since inflammation is the root of most illness, it is critical to include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. Berries ginger, and leafy greens are also good inflammation fighters.
- Pomegranates: Exceptionally high in antioxidants, this fruit is also a powerhouse of Vitamin C. Additionally, in several studies, the juice and oil in pomegranates have been shown to inhibit metastatic processes in breast cancer cells and inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation.
- Organic Apple skins: An apple a day is still keeping the doctor away, and for breast health, it is essential. According to a 2007 study from Cornell University, apple skin is not only a rich source of fiber and Vitamins C and A, but also contains compounds called triterpenoids, which have been shown to either inhibit or kill cancer cells, particularly breast cancer, in laboratory studies. However, make sure your apples are organic, as conventional apples are laced with pesticides, which will adversely affect breast health.
While cancer will continue to strike, it is empowering to know that you can take measures to prevent it on a daily basis. In addition to adding in the foods mentioned above, eliminating certain foods like sugar, white flour, processed foods, dairy and caffeine will also reduce inflammation and excess estrogen. Dairy in particular, for many women causes problems. However, if you are not willing to give up dairy, then switching to grass-fed or organic products is important, as conventional dairy contains hormones, antibiotics and other elements that could potentially affect breast tissue.
While the breast cancer epidemic is caused by more than just genes and diet (environmental toxins play a huge role), you can empower yourself and build your defenses by focusing on what you can easily control – what you eat. By making healthy choices daily, you will greatly reduce your chances of becoming part of the statistic. If you do develop breast cancer, however, then know you can support your body with the foods outlined above. The body has an amazing ability to heal. Trust in that.