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Kathi Casey
The Healthy Boomer Body Expert

Kathi is an author, coach, popular speaker and talk radio show guest, writes monthly columns for the South Shore Senior News, Life After 50, Boomers Forever and Retirement Living Magazines, produces her own TV show called To Your Health" in the Berkshires and owns the Healthy Boomer Body Studio in Otis, MA. Her programs combine good fun and humor with simple yet powerful techniques that fit easily into busy schedules.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As I sit here on this lovely fall day with all my windows open, a warm breeze blowing in, I'm reflecting on all there is to be grateful for in my life. Among the many, is the blessing that my Baby Boomer sister and I have kept Breast Cancer out of our bodies. And, while we both have lost friends to this disease, we know many more who are survivors. Most of these brave women are thriving now, after having undergone painful and invasive treatments in the past.

It amazes me how much information about prevention is available today that wasn't general knowledge when we Baby Boomers were growing up. In fact, many of the foods that became popular during our childhood have now been found to cause not only breast and other cancers, but heart disease as well! Do you remember when we thought Wonder Bread was good for us? I used to think Pigs in a Blanket were fun! McDonalds started out in 1954, and grew to a huge chain when I was a teen in the early 1960's. Whew! I am grateful that science is figuring out what our ancestors knew intuitively - whole foods give our bodies the nutrients we need without added sugars and fats, without antibiotics and without any genetic modification!

The research that I've done for my health coaching clients with Breast Cancer has prompted me to make a few dietary changes in my own life, and I'm including several prevention tips in this article today. Please take a few moments to look through your pantry and refrigerator and make a few simple changes that could help you avoid Breast Cancer, and other cancers too. The health of our breasts (and all of our body parts) is directly affected by what we eat and by our lifestyle choices and I want us all to be healthy and fit well into our 90's!

1. Get your antioxidants! Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals in our bodies, preventing oxidation and deterioration of healthy cells. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, grains, poultry, and fish. My favorite fruit, blueberries, are very high in antioxidants and they taste delicious! Beta-carotene is an antioxidant found in foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos. Some green, leafy vegetables, including collard greens, spinach, and kale, are also rich in beta-carotene. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, and blood oranges. Vitamins A and C and E are also antioxidants. You can get vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, and egg yolks. Vitamin C can be found in abundance in many fruits and vegetables and is also found in cereals, poultry, and fish. Vitamin E is found in almonds, wheat germ, and soybean oils, as well as mangos and broccoli. Extra virgin olive oil is a potent source of antioxidant polyphenols, and nuts and seeds also provide the cancer protective mineral, selenium. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage contain powerful phytonutrients which have been shown to convert the most potent estrogens in our bodies to a weaker, less carcinogenic form; I eat broccoli almost every day!

A note of caution – some studies have shown that genetically modified soy products are not beneficial and may even be harmful to our bodies, so choose organic soy.

2. Stay far, far away from sugar. And this doesn't just mean table sugar. It means refined carbohydrates too, as they cause a spike in your blood sugar. Breast cells are sensitive to excess estrogen. A diet high in refined carbohydrates causes spikes in insulin production, which in turn causes higher estrogen levels and more breast fat cells. Ever go on a low carbohydrate diet and lose breast fat first? Now you know why. Refined carbohydrates include: sweetened fruit juice, beer, wine, soft drinks and sweet tea, canned fruit pie filling, jellies and applesauce with added sugar, frozen fruit with sugar added and sweetened canned fruit. White flour is a refined carb as well, and anything made from white flour should be limited in your diet. This includes bagels, bread, muffins, white rice and pasta, and many packaged cereals. White flour combined with sugar (like high fructose corn syrup – read your bread label…) adds even more refined carbs to foods like cookies, cakes, cupcakes and donuts. This doesn't mean you have to give up bread, rice, and pasta, just do the healthy thing by choosing 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. It's important to read the labels of all foods you buy as many have added sugar or white flour – even when the packaging leads you to believe they don't. To be certain grain based foods are not made from refined grains look for the first ingredient to be "whole wheat" or "whole grain". In local supermarkets, I have found many types of bread labeled as “wheat”, yet the first ingredient is enriched white flour and one of the last ingredients is whole wheat flour! Become a wise shopper and read all the ingredient labels to make sure you're not buying into false advertisement.

3. Keep the weight off. Much research is available that provides a direct link between fat cells and Breast Cancer risk. Exercise is essential for breast health; in fact, the latest studies have shown that women who exercise regularly (30-60 minutes, at least 4 times a week) can significantly reduce their risk for breast cancer. Fast walking, riding a bike, Nia, Zumba, or other dance classes, swimming laps, and tennis are just a few of the many exercises that help to normalize insulin and blood sugar levels, decrease body fat and keep your whole body, including your breasts, in good working order.

4. A positive outlook is essential for optimum health. When you nurture and take good care of your body, better health follows. It's important not to deprive yourself of the foods you love as this does not make you feel nurtured and healthy; instead, it causes you to crave what you're missing out on. There are tons of great recipes for the plentiful whole foods on this planet and I am confident you'll find plenty that you'll love! I have found some terrific recipes for my clients on the Cancer Schmancer site – as well as a wealth of information about prevention. And an occasional treat of coffee and a bagel will not ruin all your efforts for the days prior, just try to find a balance that works for you. And if you need some help, don't be afraid to ask me , sometimes all it takes is for someone to point you in the right direction.

Most importantly, don't let fear into your life. Fear is a F antasized E vent A ppearing R eal. Save the fantasy for the movie producers and keep your attitude positive. Try laughing meditation or visiting an internet joke site or watching a funny movie. Laughter raises your mood through increased endorphin release and also boosts your body's immune system, so laugh, laugh, laugh.

Best of Health,

Kathi

 

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