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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Nutrition for Breast Health

[12 Oct 2010 | 4 Comments | | Author: ]
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Throughout the month, I will be sharing tips and stories on being more conscious about breast health.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. It is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women and the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.

One out of eight American women who live to be 85 years of age will develop breast cancer, a risk that was one out of 14 in 1960.

Food used as a preventative to dis-ease and as an essential part of medicine has been established for over 4000 years by physicians of natural medicine. Food is a major determinant of health that is directly under our control.

We cannot always control pollution, hereditary factors, noise, environment, and the social and emotional behaviors of others, but we can certainly choose what and what not to eat.

Food is so important to human existence, and because it is utilized many times each day, it has a major affect on the body. However, most people do not realize the power of foods.

Water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the basic building blocks of a good diet. By choosing the healthiest forms of each of these nutrients, and eating them in the proper balance, you enable your body to function at its optimal level.

Eating The Proper Fats

Reducing fat in the diet is an important component of breast health. Foods with a high proportion of calories from fat should be eliminated or limited in the diet; these include red meat high in fat content, poultry with skin, dark poultry meat, fried foods, butter, margarine, cheese, milk (except skim milk), junk foods, and most processed foods. Vegetable oils should also be restricted.

Good fats can help reduce the risk of cancer. The good fats include Borage oil, evening primerose oil, (which both contain GLA – gamma linolenic acid) flax oil, (which is rich in ALA – alpha linolenic acid) shark oil and olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, which have been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer is ideal. A new study finds that derivatives from two omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) significantly inhibited cell adhesion (15 to 30%) and migration (about 50%) and induced apoptosis (about 40%) in breast cancer cells.[6].

Controlling Estrogen Levels

Environmental estrogens are found in pesticides, plastics, and PCB’s (chemical pollutants in the water, air, and soil). These forms of estrogen are thought to have a major influence on the excessive amounts of estrogen that are being found in both men and women. Poor diet, with too much refined carbohydrate and saturated animal fat and too little fiber is also responsible.

Eat more high fiber foods (except wheat bran) to prevent excess re-uptake of estrogen by the bowel. Organic food reduces your exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Too much fat tissue increases your body’s ability to convert male hormones into estrogen. Stress also plays a major role in your liver and digestive system removing excess estrogen.

Symptoms: puffiness and bloating, water retention, rapid weight gain, breast tenderness, heavy bleeding, mood swings (anxiety, depression, weepiness), sleep problems, migraines, flushed face, low libido, foggy thinking, and high levels of copper in the system. Later, endometriosis, fibroids, gall bladder problems, poor blood sugar control, and hypothyroid conditions may arise.

Symptoms in Men: hair loss, headaches, bloating, weight gain, prostate enlargement, irritability, and breast enlargement.

Solutions: low fat high fiber diet, live yogurt (encourage excretion of estrogen), eating cabbage-family veggies (cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and califlowier) increases the rate at which the liver converts estrogen into a water-soluble form that can be excreted, increase protein intake to improve estrogen metabolism in the liver, vitamin B6 reduces the effects of excess estrogen, more exercise, less stress, and lose weight. These cruciferous vegetables contain anti-cancer and detoxing abilities as well as Indole-3-carbinol, which may have anti-carcinogenic effects.

Fight Free Radicals

Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that have at least one unpaired electron, which makes them highly reactive. Free radicals promote beneficial oxidation that produces energy and kills bacterial invaders. However, in excess, they produce harmful oxidation or “oxidative stress” that can damage cell membranes and cell contents. [2]. These free radicals cause inflammation.

In human beings, free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within and among cells. Free radicals are created by exposure to various environmental factors, cigarette and tobacco smoke, air pollution, alcohol, drugs, radiation from televisions and computers, chemicals and a busy, stressful life.

These factors stimulate molecules in the body called transcription factors. The transcription factor is any protein required to initiate or regulate transcription; including both gene regulatory proteins as well as the general transcription factors.

These chemical messengers signal DNA to start producing protein, which gives direction to the cells in our body. Transcription factors in the body are harmless, until they are activated by free radicals. Free radicals cause the transcription molecules to migrate to the center of the nucleus. Several transcription factors become pro-inflammatory due to free radicals and therefore accelerate the aging process.

NF-kB transcription factor complex is one of the cellular sensors, which responds to oxidative stress and regulates gene expression. NF-kB can increase the activity of genes responsible for inflammation. DNA binding activities of two other transcription factors, AP-1 and Sp-1 are seen as inflammatory agents when activated by free radicals. [3].

Other inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and fibrinogen show that these blood indicators of inflammation are strong predictive factors for determining who will suffer a heart attack. [4,5]. Seemingly unrelated diseases have a common link.

People who have multiple degenerative disorders often exhibit excess levels of inflammatory markers in their blood. A growing consensus among scientists is that common disorders such as atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease are all caused in part by a chronic inflammatory syndrome.

Antioxidants Are Necessary

More and more evidence is accumulating that indicates antioxidants improve long-term health by deferring or mitigating cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Exercise-related research indicates that antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium limit exercise-induced muscle damage; this, in turn, is believed to improve exercise recovery and possibly improve muscle growth potential.

Of course, as vitamins C and E and selenium are among the most effective antioxidants, they and others are part of most multivitamin/mineral packs. However, here are some additional antioxidants you may want to consider taking, with the baseline supplementary daily intake.

Research suggests that combining antioxidants is more effective than consuming high doses of just one or two antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in a wide variety of antioxidants; the essential antioxidants may be better preserved in these foods. Herbal supplements like milk thistle, rosemary, ginkgo biloba, bilberry, butcher’s broom and horse chestnut have high levels of potent antioxidants, although their effects on exercise have not yet been studied in humans.

Black and Green Tea

For years, studies have indicated that the antioxidants in green tea offer protection against diseases, including cancer, and even fight dental cavities. One of the most beneficial of these antioxidants is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

According to the University of California Wellness Letter, Mar 2002, regular black tea is turning out to be just as healthful as green tea. The evidence for tea’s health effects comes mainly from lab studies, though some human studies point to possible benefits in preventing heart disease and cancer.

EGCG, inhibited an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. The cancer cells that couldn’t grow big enough to divide self-destructed. It would take about 4-10 cups of green tea a day to get the blood levels of EGCG that inhibited cancer in the study. Black tea also contains EGCG, but at lower concentrations.

Sugar and Inflammation

One of the reasons inflammation occurs is from a rapid rise in blood sugar, which causes biochemical changes in the cell. Staying away from sugar and high-glycemic (simple) carbohydrates, which the body rapidly converts to sugar, is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a key factor of inflammation. In a major study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people with elevated CRP levels were four and one-half times more likely to have a heart attack. Not only is elevated CRP more accurate than cholesterol in predicting heart attack risk, but high CRP levels have turned up in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes and in people who are overweight. [7, 8, 9, 10]

When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called “glycosylation,” or the Browning Reaction, increasing inflexible and inflammation. CRP is not found in foods. However, its levels in the body are strongly influenced by diet.

A recent study by Simin Liu, M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School found that women who ate large amounts of high-glycemic (or diabetes promoting) carbohydrates, including potatoes, breakfast cereals, white bread, muffins, and white rice, had very high CRP levels. Women who ate a lot of these foods and were also overweight had the highest and most dangerous CRP levels. [11].

The body makes CRP from interleukin-6 (IL-6), a powerful inflammatory chemical. IL-6 is a key cell communication molecule, and it tells the body’s immune system to go into asperity, releasing CRP and many other inflammation-causing substances. Being overwieght increases inflammation because adipose cells, particularly those around the midsection, make large amounts of IL-6 and CRP.

As blood sugar levels increase, so do IL-6 and CRP. Both overweight and high blood sugar levels increase the risk of heart disease, very likely because of the undercurrent of inflammation. [10].

The best way to deal with cravings is to very carefully control blood sugar and insulin by staying away from the simple carbohydrates and eating more protein. In a few days, blood sugar will stabilize and cravings will go away. Good (complexed) carbohydrates, which are low on the glycemic index include: apples, apsaragus, beans, broccoli, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, green beans, honeydew melon, kiwi, leafy greens, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, spinach, strawberries.

Bad (simple) carbohydrates, which are high on the glycemic index include: bananas, breads, carrots, cereals processed with added sugar, corn, French fries, French toast, fruit juices, mangos, pancakes, papaya, pasta, peas,  popcorn, white potatoes, white rice, sugar, waffles.

Dietary fats also influence inflammation. Most omega-6 fats, found in margarine and corn and safflower oils, are the basic building blocks of arachidonic acid and prostaglandin E2, two of several key inflammation-causing substances in the body. In contrast, omega-3 fats, found in fish, fish oils, and vegetables, have an inflammation-suppressing effect. [11]

Balance the Body’s pH

It is important to keep the body as pH balanced as possible. Most people’s diets tend to be more on the acidic side. Therefore, eating more alkaline forming foods (plant based) helps to maintain proper pH balance. Eat foods such as non citrus fruits and plenty of vegetables, some dairy such as cottage cheese and yogurt, organic skinless chicken, turkey or grass feed, lean beef and fish. Buy dried beans such as garbanzo beans and black beans, consider whole grains such as brown rice and oats, as well as a handful of healthy fats in nuts and seeds.

Add Healthy Seasonings

There are very beneficial herbs containing antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. Consider cinnamon, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, onions, garlic and stevia.

Boost Your Immune System

ImmunityPlus is a natural, safe and effective liquid herbal formula that is a blend of African, Asian and other herbs specifically formulated to optimize immune functioning. ImmunityPlus is a potent, complex remedy that contains ingredients to provide a wide range of benefits to those suffering from depressed immune systems or wish to boost their optimal functioning.

This includes a liver tonic; immune system strengthening; improved body functioning; detoxification; and enhanced convalescence. ImmunityPlus can be used to tone and strengthen the immune system during and after illness and is a useful overall tonic for the body. Created by a clinical psychologist, ImmunityPlus is pharmaceutically manufactured to the highest standards.

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