The lifestyle choices you make can have a significant influence on your risk in developing cancer. In fact, up to 90% of all cancers are attributable to the environmental exposures and lifestyle habits we are accustomed to.1
Here are my top 5 lifestyle habits you can create and implement to help you reduce your risk of developing cancer. It goes without saying that cessation of smoking and minimal alcohol consumption will go a long way to reducing your risk.
Eat a healthy diet: This means eating a low-carb or ‘paleo’ style of eating. Minimising your intake of grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye in particular) in all forms, like pasta, breads, cakes and pastries is advised, as well as conventional diary products of milk and processed cheeses. Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry (organic if possible) fish and vegetable proteins is advised together with a liberal consumption of coconut oil and olive oil. Specific variations of a healthy diet can be customised based upon food sensitivity testing, functional medicine evaluations and levels of exercise.
This study shows by maintaining an intake of 400g of vegetables and fruits daily have a protective effect on developing a variety of cancers2. Another study here demonstrates specific effect of various nutrients, namely Vitamins A, C, D found in foods and associated their deficiencies to the risk of developing types of cancers.3
Exercise daily: Regular moderate to intense levels of exercise are important to reducing the risk of cancer developement4. Being sedentary or overweight can make subtle changes to the hormonal system of the body, specifically affecting insulin, estrogen and testosterone, which ultimately increase inflammation and risk of developing cancer5. Exercise has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation and increase activity of immune system (particularly Natural Killer cells) against cancer.6 My suggestion is 30 mins of exercise daily of moderate to high intensity. I’d advise seeking the assistance of a personal trainer in your local area to design a training program specifically for you.
Obtain adequate restful sleep: A key hormone which regulates the sleep patterns is melatonin which is produced in the pineal gland of the brain. Optimal regular sleep is essential for optimal production of melatonin. Not only do you feel better when you have optimal sleep, you also have the optimal beneficial effects of melatonin which include inhibition of cancer development and activation of immune cells within the body.7,8 It has been shown that sleep deprived individuals are more prone to getting certain types of cancers. Ensuring that you are getting at least 6-7 hours of restful sleep is key and putting your head down before 12am is essential.
Clear your mind of toxic emotions: Emotions of bitterness, hopelessness, anger, depression or anxiety all have a negative effect on the body. In particular, it reduces the cytotoxic T-cells (immune cells) and Natural Killer cell activity in the body. This reduction in immune system function increases the risk of developing cancer, with feelings of hopelessness being particularly detrimental.9,10. Other physiological side effects include a release of inflammatory hormones, a disruption and compromise in digestion and an elevation of blood sugar which creates further tissue damage. Addressing ones negative emotions is a critical step optimising ones immune system, thereby protecting oneself against cancer. Being authentic, laughing regularly, being open to optimism and positivity, loving freely and unconditionally are all steps one should focus on. I particularly support the use of a psychological technique called emotional freedom technique, to help clear negative emotions. Emotional Freedom Technique practitioners are widely available and can be accessed online through skype consultations.
Take some key supplements: I would advise on taking two key supplements to support your health, as a protective measure. Firstly I would take a probiotic. A probiotic contains micro-organisms, typically bacteria which comprise of various species. These can include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains.
Our gut contains up to 1.2kg of bacteria living inside, primarily in the colon, in fact there are more bacterial cells living in our gut than there are human cells making up our body. This makes us a super-organism – an organism comprised of other organisms! This demonstrates the importance of bacteria in our lives. The roles these bacteria play in our body are many, but in relation to cancer they have potentially protective effects in stopping mutagenic effects (genetic alterations to cells) and stopping bad bacteria creating carcinogenic (cancer forming) compounds.11 Another study specifically demonstrated how bacteria protected against colon cancer.12
The second supplement I recommend is Cod Liver Oil (CLO). This supplement is a super-food as it contains many health protective nutrients. It has omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, and have anti-cancer effects13, in addition, CLO contains Vitamins A, D, E and K2, which all work synergistically together in the body. Vitamin A14, and D315 have already proven effective in the prevention of a variety of cancers. Some interesting new studies are demonstrating the protective effect of Vitamin K216,17. Fat soluble vitamins are typically low in peoples’ diets, as we tend to go out in the sun less, which means we make less vitamin D3 in the skin. We’re advised by the diet ‘dictotrats’ that eating low fat is good, which limits the intake of butter, animal fats and whole fat cheese, this inadvertently lowers our sources of Vitamins A, D and K2.
By adopting these lifestyle choices you will be going some way to lowering your risk of developing cancer. Ultimately being consistent in your lifestyle habits is key, and together with regular medical evaluations will help assessing risk throughout your life.
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