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?


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,


Supplements to Prevent the Flu

We all know the flu this year is bad.

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

So how can you prevent the flu?

First off, there are some easy and free things you can do (see this post).

There are also natural products that help prevent flu.

How do you know which supplements actually prevent flu versus those that claim to prevent flu, but don’t really work?

You can tell the difference between what works (and what doesn’t) by reviewing the scientific evidence.  But my guess is you don’t really have the time to sift through dozens of scientific articles.

So I’ve done the research for you — I’ve read and assessed the studies so you don’t have to.

Here are the details on the most popular supplements used to prevent flu — I’m telling you if they are effective and safe.

American Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax ginseng) is used for various medical purposes.

Studies show American ginseng may decrease the risk of developing the flu or common cold in adults. Evidence also suggests American ginseng may reduce symptom severity if you get the flu or common cold.

American ginseng is considered likely safe when used orally and short-term. The most common side effect is headache. American ginseng can decrease blood glucose and those with diabetes; high doses are associated with insomnia and schizophrenia. American ginseng can interact with prescription medications — especially warfarin — so be cautious.

Bottomline: American ginseng may keep you from getting the flu or common cold. However, you need to make sure you discuss using ginseng with your healthcare provider due to drug interactions and medical condition reactions.


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Echinacea is used for treating and preventing the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory infections.

There is plenty of evidence for echinacea in treating colds (see this post for more info). 

However, there is less evidence to support using echinacea to prevent flu. In fact, the most compelling evidence suggests echinacea may improve immune response to influenza vaccine.

Echinacea is considered likely safe when taken orally and used short-term.

Echinacea species are related to the ragweed family. If you have a ragweed allergy, echinacea is not for you. Because echinacea stimulates immune function, it may not be appropriate for those with autoimmune diseases.

Bottomline: Echinacea may help you once you get sick. However, it’s effectiveness in presently flu is questionable.



You are likely most familiar with garlic as a culinary herb. However, garlic is also used medicinally for conditions such as blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and infections.

Garlic has evidence to show it reduces illness severity if you get a cold or flu. There is also evidence to suggest garlic helps prevent colds. The evidence for influenza is less compelling.

Garlic is considered safe when used orally and appropriately.

Bottomline: If you get sick with a cold or flu, garlic may reduce your illness severity. As of now, there isn’t strong evidence to suggest garlic will prevent flu. Garlic may prevent the common cold.

Now You Know

You are armed with the evidence behind the most popular supplements to prevent the flu and common cold.

Now you can navigate the supplement aisles with confidence and make an evidence-based decision that is right for you.

In health,



5 Ways to Prevent a Sinus Infection

We’ve all been there. The snuffy nose that runs like a faucet. Coupled with pain and pressure in the face.

Yep. Sinus infections.

And sinus infections are RAMPANT this time of year.


I used to get two sinus infections a year — one in the winter and one in the summer when my seasonal allergies went berserk.

But then I decided I would really figure out how to prevent them. Using evidence-based and integrative strategies. And voila! Sinus infections no more!

So how do you prevent sinus infections?

Keep reading for my top tips.

1. Avoid Breathing Dry Air


You may be thinking, “Yeah, right. How do I do that in the winter?”

Great question because the combo of cold air and artificial heating is a recipe for dryness.

There are a few things you can do.

One is to use a humidifier, especially while you’re sleeping. These relatively inexpensive devices can be a godsend. They work by infusing the air with moisture, which makes things much more comfortable for your nasal passages and sinuses.

Another is to use saline nasal rinses. You can read more about those here.

2. Savor a Cup of Tea


This is something I can completely get behind.

Tea, particularly of the green variety, has been shown to prevent sinus infections. It is thought the cathechins are responsible for this effect.

If you are new to tea, rest assured green tea tastes delicious. However, how you steep the tea is incredibly important. If you steep green tea for too long or at too high a temperature, it will taste bitter and honestly unpleasant. Be sure to follow steeping instructions to ensure your cup tastes great.

3. Stay Away from Smoke and Pollution


Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs — the smoke also irritates your nasal and sinus membranes.

When your nasal and sinus membranes are irritated, you are much more likely to get a sinus infection.

High pollution levels also have the same effect. So consider exercising indoors when the air quality is subpar or investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers are not cheap, but can make a huge difference if you live in an area with pollution.

4. Avoid Your Allergens


When you are exposed to allergens, you often cause inflammation of the nasal and sinus membranes.

If you cannot avoid your allergens, at the very least treat your symptoms.

5. Wash Your Hands . . . Now and Often


Wash your hands. Right now.

If you come into contact with people with colds or other infections, you increase your risk of illness.

The best way to prevent cold transmission is by hand washing. Now and often.

Keep Yourself Healthy & Happy

I’m a true believer in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So if you suffer from sinus infections, try these tips to keep you (and your sinuses) healthy and happy.



Last week I was teaching an Intensive Lifestyle class and one of my participants asked me a great question.

She asked:

 “I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to prevent anxiety and depression. I exercise five times a week and try to eat right. What other natural things can I do to prevent depression and anxiety?

This is a question I get a lot. And in the spirit of our happiness series, I am here to answer.

Just to recap from last week, the biggest detractors from happiness are depression and anxiety. So I am going to share 3 alternative therapies that are proven to prevent depression and anxiety.

You may be concerned with the cost and effectiveness of alternative therapies. I completely sympathize your concern.

That is why I am only offering alternative therapies that are proven (and I share the links to the medical articles that show the support) and affordable. In fact, two of the three therapies I share can be obtained for FREE.


1. Music Therapy

Music therapy has solid evidence to help anxiety and depression

Music therapy is the use of music to influence physical, emotional, cognitive, and social wellbeing and quality of life. It can include listening to music or performing music.

Music therapy is shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and stress. Furthermore, music can enhance mood and induce relaxation.

The best type of music for depression and anxiety is still being determined.

Research suggests that music familiar to your culture is the most helpful for anxiety.

Classical music has been found to be relaxing and comforting. Rock music, on the other hand, may result in stress.

Interestingly, both calming and stimulating music may improve pain tolerance.

Music therapy is theorized to work by reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and the release of stress hormones. See this and this article for more information.

Music therapy is considered to be safe.

Multiple clinical studies have used music therapy without side effects.

2. Light therapy

Light therapy is shown to help with depression.

Light therapy (or phototherapy) is the use of various wavelengths of light to produce a therapeutic effect. It can use lasers, LEDs, fluorescent lamps, and bright, full-spectrum light.

You may have heard of using light boxes to help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressive condition related to changes in the seasons. There is quite a bit of evidence to support light therapy for SAD. In fact, light therapy may be as effective as using traditional antidepressants.

You may not know light therapy is also useful for non-seasonal depression.

Bright light therapy has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms in individuals with non-seasonal depression.

To help with non-seasonal depression, white light (versus yellow or red) appears to have the most evidence.

Studies show that durations as short as 2 to 4 hours per day improves symptoms.

3. Yoga

Yoga decreases depressive symptoms in children and adults.

Yoga is a mental, physical, and spiritual practice that originated in India thousands of years ago.

Yoga’s popularity has increased significantly in Western cultures over the last several decades.

Research shows yoga improves depressive symptoms in individuals that are using antidepressant medicine and those that are NOT using antidepressant medicines.

Yoga works by improving blood pressure, blood sugar, stress, and anxiety levels.

These are all modalities that appear to improve depression and anxiety.

Yoga appears to be safe in most individuals.
Aggressive forms of yoga or yoga in highly heated environments may not be safe, especially for beginners, older adults, and those that are pregnant. It is best to practice yoga under the supervision of a certified instructor.

Several different types of yoga decrease depression and anxiety.

Studies show:

  • Sudarshan Kriya Yoga,
  • hatha yoga, and
  • sahaj yoga

decrease depressive symptoms and anxiety.

Boosting Happiness with Alternative Therapies

Happiness is important to us all and we know the main detractors from happiness in the Unites States are depression and anxiety.

The good news is there are alternative therapies proven to PREVENT depression and anxiety. Music therapy, light therapy, and yoga are affordable options that help.

Your Turn

What happiness hack will you try this week? I encourage you to pick one (or all three) to help keep depression and anxiety at bay.

Loved this post? Then share it with a friend!

Are you looking for more information on happiness? Read parts 1 and 2 of the happiness series and be on the lookout for part 4.

Three Natural (& PROVEN) Ways to Prevent a Cold

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Image Credit

Even though it’s February, cold and flu season is still rampant. And where I live it seems like everyone is coming down with a cold (and a few with flu).

Because I love you and care about your wellness, I want to make sure you have all the information on preventing colds.

Because an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.

So I’m highlighting three natural (and evidence-based) things you can do to help prevent catching a cold.

Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. The information in this post is not a substitute for medical advice or care.


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Image Credit

The Prevention

Saline is a fancy name for salt water.

In the winter, exposure to cold air and artificial heating can leave your nasal passages and sinuses dry. Why is this a problem?

When your nasal passages and sinuses are dry, bacteria, viruses, and irritants are not removed as efficiently.

Saline rinses and sprays cleanse and moisturize the nasal passages.

The Evidence

A study in 2004 showed that use of a daily nasal saline spray resulted in significantly fewer colds and upper respiratory tract infections.

How to Use

Saline irrigation can be done using a neti pot, battery powered irrigator, or saline spray. Each device has special instructions for use.

Saline irrigation products should be used by one person and one person only. Word to the wise: if you use a neti pot or irrigator, make sure to keep it clean. A contaminated pot or irrigator can lead to problems.


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Image Credit

The Prevention

Echinacea is an oldie, but goodie in the cold world. There is some evidence to support echinacea remedies colds. But there is also research to show echinacea can PREVENT colds.

The Evidence

A meta-analysis of 14 trails found echinacea significantly decreased the odds of developing a cold by 58%.

How to Use

To prevent colds, echinacea is ingested orally. Doses range from 1,000 mg to 2,400 mg of echinacea daily. Capsules and liquid formulations are both available.

Common side effects of echinacea include stomach upset and rash.


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Image Credit

The Prevention

I know, I know. This sounds like a total no-brainer.

Except many people do not wash their hands regularly.

And hand washing is easy, cheap, and extremely effective.

The primary way colds spread is when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes. Droplets with germs land on places you touch (doorknobs, telephones, keyboards, money). Or the sick person coughs or sneezes into their hands and then proceeds to touch something and infect it. Then you (happy and healthy) touch the infected item and subsequently rub your nose or touch your mouth. Next thing you know, you have a raging cold!

The Evidence

Does hand washing really work?


A study conducted with the Navy showed hand washing 5 times a day reduced the incidence of upper respiratory infection by 45%.

How to Do It

Wash often for 20 seconds or more using hot water and soap.

When is it most important to wash?
  1. ALWAYS wash your hands before eating.
  2. ALWAYS wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  3. Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough.
  4. Wash your hands after touching animals.
What do you do if you’re not near a sink?

Don’t worry! You can use hand sanitizer in a pinch. Just make sure the sanitizer is 60% rubbing alcohol or more.


So the next time you feel a cold coming on, you have three proven, effective, and natural weapons in your arsenal.

Do you have an amazing cold prevention hack I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear all about it!

Wishing you wellness,

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