How to Get Cancer - Part I

We all know someone who has cancer. And maybe even someone that has died from cancer.

If it seems like cancer is everywhere that’s because it is. Roughly 15 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each year.

While cancer treatment has improved tremendously in the last decade, still there is no absolute cure. You probably already knew that.

But did you know one third of cancer could be avoided by changing lifestyle and diet habits?

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That’s right. What I just said is cancer is preventable in many cases. Really and truly.

Because I would prefer to prevent cancer, I’ve done the research and incorporated the evidence into my life. And today I’m starting a cancer prevention series just for you. Over the next few weeks I will lay out the evidence and offer simple and sustainable ways for you to make lifestyle changes to prevent cancer.

I’m always shocked when people I work with don’t realize that some cancers can be prevented. Knowledge is power and cancer prevention is one of my passions. If you have a friend, family member, or other loved one that you want to help, please refer them here.

Each week, I will offer you one or two action-oriented methods to prevent cancer and the evidence to back it up. In return, you will use the next week to take action and make changes.

Without further adieu, let’s dive in and get started!

How to Get Cancer: Eat Ultra-Processed Food

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It should come as no surprise that processed foods are bad news. We know they are linked to obesity, increase blood pressure, and heart failure exacerbations.

Now we know consumption of processed foods increases the risk of cancer.

A little over a month ago, a study was published that assessed the association between ultra-processed food and cancer. This study include over 100,000 participants that were followed for six years. The results were startling.

A 10% increase in ultra-processed food intake was associated wth greater than 10% increase risk in overall cancer and breast cancer.

Why? First of all, processed foods are high in total fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt. Secondly, processed foods contain contaminants that are carcinogenic (such as acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Third, processed foods often are packaged in materials that are carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting (such as bisphenol A). Lastly, processed foods often contain nitrites, which are hypothesized to be carcinogens.

Which foods were considered to be ultra-processed this the study?

  • Mass produced packaged breads and buns
  • Sweet and savory packaged sweets
  • Mass produced confectionery and desserts
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages
  • Meat products with preservatives other than salt (such as meatballs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks)
  • Instant noodles and soups
  • Frozen or shelf stable meals
  • Food products made mostly from sugar, oils, fats, and processed oils

Action of the Week: Ditch Ultra-Processed Foods. Immediately, If Not Sooner.

What does this study mean for you? It means that if you want to decrease your risk of cancer (overall and breast), you must decrease your consumption of ultra-processed foods.

So take an inventory. Do you eat any of the ultra-processed foods mentioned above? If so, say sayonara to them. Instead, replace the ultra-processed foods with organic vegetables and fruit. Drink water, sparkling water, or tea instead of sodas and sweetened beverages.

Give it a try this week! And stay tuned for more on the cancer prevention series!

In health and happiness,
Skye

 

Three Foods to Get You In the Mood

I know this post is a bit out of my wheel house.

But I get asked this question from friends (and friends of friends) every year around this time. You know — because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

“Can certain foods really act as aphrodisiacs or make you fall in love?”

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The simple answer: YES.

So even though this goes outside the bounds of my usual topics, I present three foods that can get you in the mood.

Maca Powder

Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable used for centuries. It is most commonly found in the powder form, which has an earthy flavor and warm vanilla-like aroma.

Maca is known to increase energy, boost fertility, and enhance libido. Additionally, maca is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

It’s easy to add a teaspoon of maca powder to your smoothie of choice; alternately, you can sprinkle maca powder into your oatmeal or add it to your favorite bar recipe. Just remember maca powder can be energizing so beware of using it before bedtime unless you know how you react to it.

Tip: Trader Joe’s sells maca powder — you can typically find it near the smoothie protein powders and in the baking section.

Dark Chocolate

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You know I’m a HUGE chocolate fan (for the taste and the health benefits).

But did you know dark chocolate can help you fall (or stay) in love? This property is attributed to dark chocolate’s phenylethylamine, an endorphin released when people fall in love.

This — coupled with chocolate’s ability to stimulate production of “feel good” hormones serotonin and and dopamine — helps explain why chocolate is the stereotypical Valentine’s Day food.

Chili Peppers

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Chili peppers have special properties that can be exploited for more than just taste.

Chili peppers contain an ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings, causing a tingling sensation, and ultimately causes the release of endorphins and adrenaline. In fact, capsaicin is used medicinally in topical products to help reduce pain.

The endorphin release caused from eating chili peppers can increase feeling of happiness and love.

The Truth - There Are Foods that Stimulate Love & More

Maca, dark chocolate, and chili are three foods that can stimulate good feelings and love.

Do you want even more good feelings for Valentine’s Day this year?  Try combining these feel good foods together for your special someone.

The flavors of chocolate and maca go together nicely. In fact, one of my favorite smoothie recipes utilizes them both.

If you prefer something you can buy premade, Theo chocolate makes a dark chocolate and chili bar. Three different chili peppers are combined with 70% dark chocolate in a delightful tasting way.

Sending you x’s and o’s,
Skye

 

Non-Depressing Health Alert: Chocolate is GOOD for Your Heart

Are you struggling with the holidays?

Maybe you can’t turn down those chocolate truffles your co-worker put in the lunch room.

Maybe the box of Candy Cane JoJo’s calls your name when you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Or maybe your husband brought home a package of dark chocolate dipped pretzels that you can’t resist. (Welcome to my life).

Are you feeling food guilt or frustration?

If so, I have FANTASTIC (and evidence-based) health news for you. News that will make you feel better, lose the guilt, and start enjoying the holidays.

Are you ready?

Because it may blow your mind away.

Chocolate is good for your heart.

Seriously.

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Eating chocolate is correlated with reductions in heart disease.

So are things like exercising and eating fruits and vegetables. But isn’t eating chocolate a little more fun? I think so. And I think a healthy life SHOULD be fun.

A recent study published in the journal Heart may give us a look into WHY. The study conducted in Denmark showed chocolate consumption was associated with a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, a common arrhythmia that can lead to stroke and other serious heart problems.

Those who had one to three one-ounce servings of chocolate each month had a 10% relative risk reduction in atrial fibrillation. And people that ate more chocolate (one serving a week) had a 20% reduction.

The not as good news? Those that had one or more servings of chocolate a day did not have a statistically significant risk reduction.

So enjoy those chocolate truffles — but try to keep it to once a week to maximize heart health benefits.

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

There are other health benefits to chocolate. Studies show chocolate consumption is also associated with:

  •  Lower blood pressure
  •  Improved insulin response
  •  Improved mood

So you can feel good (and healthy) about that dark chocolate truffle you just ate.

THE BEST TYPE OF CHOCOLATE TO EAT

If you want to maximize the health benefits of chocolate, I have a motto for you.

Darker is smarter.

The darker the chocolate, the higher percentage the cacao or cocoa.

The cacao or cocoa is the part of the chocolate that we think has the health benefits. Not the added sugar or milk.

If you need a little help on picking the best types of chocolate, check out this post. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see my favorite chocolate brands. 

NEXT STEPS

So go forth and enjoy your holidays! Eat your chocolate and savor each bite — knowing you are helping your heart.

 

With love,
Skye

What Foods are BAD for Your Health?

Last week, we talked about the BEST foods for your health.

The natural follow up is which foods are the WORST for your health.

The truth is there are foods that significantly contribute to illness and disease. It’s the cold and hard truth.

We know certain foods increase your risk of early death. The bad news is Americans often eat way too much of these foods.

Where does this information come from? It comes from a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So which four foods should you avoid to decrease your risk of early death? Read on for the details!

Sugar Sweetened Beverages

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Sugar sweetened beverages are drinks that have sugar added to them. Examples include sodas and soft drinks, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks.

While sugar sweetened beverages may seem innocuous, they are anything but. They are associated with 15% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re a die hard soda or sweet coffee drinker, it may take time to wean yourself. However, I know you can do it. And to help, here are some healthy swaps.

  • Instead of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, try La Croix La Cola.
  • Instead of sodas, try sparkling water (Trader Joe’s sells a variety of flavors - lemon, lime, berry, and pina colada to name a few).
  • Instead of Gatorade or Powerade, try water with fruit infused (think oranges, limes, or stawberries).
  • Instead of sweet tea, try iced tea with lemon. Or make iced tea with naturally sweet tea leaves (basically anything with licorice).
  • Instead of a caramel macchiato, try an Americano with milk.
  • Instead of energy drinks, try black coffee.


Processed Meats

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Processed meats are meats that have been preserved (by canning, curing, salting, smoking, or drying). Commonly consumed processed meats include sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, corned beef, salted and cured meat, smoked meat, dried meat (think beef jerky), and canned meat.

Processed meats are associated with 8% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Patients often cite convenience and cost as a reason for turning to processed meats, which I completely understand.

The good news is there are healthy, affordable, and convenient alternatives to processed meats.  

Instead of making a ham sandwich or hot dog, try a nut butter and fruit sandwich on whole grain bread. Instead of beef jerky as a snack, try nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds are great this time of year). Or some veggies and hummus. Your heart and health will thank you.

Unprocessed Red Meats

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I know this one may surprise you.

Especially because some popular diets sing the praises of red meat.

The reality is red meat consumption is associated with 15% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

You may be thinking red meat was eaten by our ancestors. Which in some cultures is true. However, the quality of meat consumed by our ancestors was much different from what most people today consumed. The animals roamed free and ate grass, insects, and whatever else was available in the environment. Today most red meat is raised in factory farms and the nutrient profile of the meat is very different from the meat of our ancestors.

Instead of red meat, try to increase your intake of legumes. Beans and lentils have a rich and sturdy texture and can fill you up. Or try mushrooms. Mushrooms have a meat like texture and pick up the flavor of marinades well.

High Sodium

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Sodium. Salt. Table salt. Whatever you call it, too much is associated with 10% of deaths related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Most salt in American diets come from processed foods (think processed meats, packaged foods) and fast food. If you avoid these, you should be in good shape.

Now What?

I love recommending foods to ADD to people’s diet instead of focusing on what to ELIMINATE.

But there are cases where you should eliminate or decrease your consumption of for your wellness.

Things you should eliminate entirely? Trans fats and sugar sweetened beverages.

Foods you should eliminate or decrease? Processed meats and red meat.

And salt is something you need to be mindful of.


So take an assessment of what you eat and determine where you can make tweaks to boost your wellness.

Until next week,
Skye

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do you want a cooking-free way to make your food more satisfying, tasty, & filling?

Who wants to eat less while feeling just as satisfied?

And who wants their food to taste better and be more satisfying?

Unless you are a masochist, my guess is you answered “Me!”

What if I could share a way for you to do this that did not require any cooking?

There is one simple, real, and freeing way to do this. Get ready . . .

Eat mindfully.

Americans often approach eating like a visit to a gas station. You try to find the cheapest option, quickly refuel while multi-tasking (talking on the phone, checking your email, washing your windows), and zip away to your next task. The process fulfills its purpose (refueling), but does not provide enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction.

Think about your eating. Is itdone quickly, while watching television, while working at your desk, in the car, or while walking? Do you view eating as a quick refueling or task on your agenda?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you could use an eating makeover.

There is now a term when you consume food when it is not your primary focus. It is called “secondary eating” and Americans spend more time as Secondary Eaters than they do as Primary Eaters (i.e., less meals and more eating on the go or in front of the television). While we think we are gaining time andconvenience with secondary eating, we are actually losing.

When we eat without it being our primary focus:
    •    Our brains are less able to enjoy our food
    •    We lose the ability to fully taste and appreciate different flavors
    •    We have more difficulty telling when we are full

Truly I understand you lead busy and hectic lives. Being as efficient as possible is hardwired in many brains (especially mine).

But eating is not where our time saving should come from.

The average American spends 34 hours a week watching television. That’s just less than 5 hours a day. With the rise of mobile devices (hello iPhones and iPads), people are finding more time. In fact, five hours a day is the estimate. And somehow we don’t “have” time to eat or exercise.

Eating in front of the television or while working is tempting (even for me). But ask yourself, what can you gain by consciously eating?

You can more fully enjoy your meal, better understand when you are full, and likely eat less. All while feeling more satisfied. If I were selling a pill that did those things, I would be a millionaire.

Make eating a savor worthy experience.

To help combat the temptation of eating in front of the television, I offer you some suggestions.

1. Eat with others (family, friends, co-workers).

It’s more fun and the conversation will be stimulating. Plus studies show eating with others is linked to lower body weight.

2. Set the table.

Clear off your table if it has become your mail filing system, work space, or anything other than eating space. Put out your dinnerware and flatware.

3. Add some flowers.

Studies show food tastes better when there are flowers on the table. Plus, it makes eating feel special (as it should). Maybe even light a candle or two if you’re feeling crazy.

4. Enjoy each bite.

Chew your food and enjoy the texture, flavors, and smells you are experiencing.

5. Savor the moment.

Appreciate that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you were meant to do. Be present. Enjoy where you are.

From Information to Action

This post has been on my mind since the inception of A Better Way Wellness. With fall around the corner and holidays on the horizon, the time to share is right.

I challenge you, savor eating today.

Make your next meal a special and enjoyable experience. Savor and appreciate where you are.

In health & happiness,
Skye