If I gave you just 15 relatively easy lifestyle tips to lower your breast cancer risk, would you do them? Of course you would! Since women have approximately a 12% risk of developing breast cancer if they live to 90, it’s more than a little scary. However, as with many different diseases, there are mercifully a number of preventative steps that we can start taking today. I passionately adhere to every lifestyle change that I outline below. But don’t take my word for it – Rather take the word of Dr. Kathryn Retzler, ND who I have learned so much from. I also listen to the advice of Dr. Prudence Hall (who is going to be working with you at my up-coming wellness weekend in Los Angeles (June 9th/10th – tickets still available). And the wonderful hormone educator, Candace Burch. These powerful doctors are going to join with you in Los Angeles, in a beautiful setting, to help you on your wellness journey – Along with every other sublime wellness experience I could think of.
So without further ado, here are some of the recommendations I’ve learned from these smart educators, to significantly lower your breast cancer risk. Or, to keep you a thriving if you’re a survivor.
1.Eat 1-5 servings of fresh fruit and veggies a day. I would actually dial this up to 10 servings, and make sure that you buy organic if the produce item is on the Dirty Dozen list.
2. Restrict eating to a 12 hour window. Dr. Retzler believes that fasting during the night decreases inflammation and blood sugar, and has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer reoccurring. So if you eat breakfast at 7am, make sure you’re done with dinner and snacking by 7pm.
3. Eat a Mediterranean Diet. Yep – many studies concur that this in indeed the healthiest diet of them all. Loads of veggies, nuts healthy oils, and a little bit of clean protein in the form of wild salmon.
4. Try to keep your blood sugar and insulin low: A meta-analysis of nearly 16,000 cases of breast cancer in more than 575,000 women, showed an increase in breast cancer in women who ate a high glycemic diet (foods that spike your blood sugar). Remember, carrying extra pounds puts you at higher risk, so going low-sugar, and reducing your saturated fat intake is a great idea.
5. Eat more produce and fiber! Studies have shown a significant reduction in breast cancer risk in women who ate a diet rich in soluble fiber. Plant foods contain a ton of fiber. Just think how much you can pack into your morning smoothie. Hello whole food plant-based diet!!!
6. Eat healthy proteins: Women need between 49 – 80 grams of protein daily (depending on your body weight). I recommend as many plant-based proteins as possible including non-GMO soy, beans, quinoa, and nuts. If you want to eat fish, make sure it is wild. Be careful of fish that contain a lot of mercury such as tuna and swordfish.
7. Eat tons of organic berries and pomegranates: Tons means at least a half cup a day. These berries are very high in antioxidants, that help guard against free-radical damage.
8. Eat healthy fats! Fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but make sure that they are healthy. Trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats), can lead to both cancer and heart disease. Healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, grapeseed/olive/avocado oil, and golden algae oil. Where possible stick with whole, unprocessed foods, which is your nuts, seeds, and avocados.
9. Avoid AGEs! I wrote extensively about AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End Products), in my last book, Gorgeous For Good, because I believe they play such a big part in premature aging. Without going into the science of what they are and what they do, I will just explain how to avoid them: Cook with low-temperatures whenever possible (slow-cooking is great). Fry, roast and bake your food in moderation. Steam sauteing in the way to go, which means that you fry your onions etc with a tablespoon or two of water in place of oil.
10. Eat loads of herbs and spices: Spices such as turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory. Fresh green herbs such as parsley, basil, mint, rosemary etc, contain tons of phyto-nutrients. Use these stunning seasonings liberally.
11. Drink Green Tea everyday! The health benefits and studies behind these health benefits are two numerous to mention here. But suffice to say that green tea decreases inflammation and oxidative stress significantly. Green tea has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. 3-5 cups of high quality green tea daily is recommended. I love Matcha Green Tea, and good quality, loose leaf Sencha.
12. Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all: one alcoholic drink per day increases your breast cancer risk by 10%, and two alcoholic drinks a day increase your risk by 20-40%. No more needs to be said, right? Red wine would be your best choice.
13: Watch your Vitamin D Serum level: It’s worth having your labs done to check that your level is >30ng/mL or possibly 40-70ng/mL. As a general rule, most of us need to supplement with 2000 iu per day (some need more and some need less, depending on your age, and where you live). Dr. Prudence Hall recommends 5000 iu per day.
13. Exercise: This is a huge risk-reducer! If yo exercise for about one hour a day, 5-7 times a week, it can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 20-60%.
14. Manage your stress: It’s worth finding time each day to connect to your breath – it’s the easiest way to reduce your stress instantaneously. I also recommend turning off all electronic devices for 30 minutes a day so that you can go back home to your center, or find your true North. I love the Insight Timer App, and please be sure to join my Meditation For Beginners Facebook grou.
15. Supplements: Aside from Vitamin D, you might want to consider Melatonin, especially if you have a hard time sleeping. I also recommend 100-3000 EPA and DHA in the form of Golden Algae supplements.
And here are 6 more tips, which I added since I wrote the original post:
16. Specific Foods: Make sure you try to eat the following foods every week, as studies have shown them to be preventative against breast cancer: White button mushrooms, raw walnuts, and flax seed (I add 1 tbsp of flax seed to my smoothie every morning. I also recommend adding 1 tsp of Amla powder to your morning smoothie.
17. Anti-inflammatory Diet: Dr. Prudence Hall told me that 90% of all cancer arises, or is aided by inflammation. She explained that when a woman goes through menopause, her inflammatory markers rise, along with arthritis, heart disease, and dementia. All the more reason to commit to an anti-inflammatory diet, which is pretty much a whole food plant based diet, that is low is sugar.
18. Listen To Your Gut: I mean this literally and metaphorically. Your gut health is the foundation of good health. Make sure you have my healthy microbiome ebook to reference my tips on how to make sure it’s as healthy as can be. And listen to your “gut”. Your gut is your second brain. When something is not right in our life, we often say (after the fact), “I should have listened to my gut”
19. Put Yourself First: A lot of breast cancer survivors come my way because they are looking for a healthier, and non-toxic was of living to improve their chances of the cancer not coming back. Although there is not guarantee as so many different factors play into why someone gets it in the first place, I’ve always believed that it makes sense to stack the cards in your favor. That way, if you do get any kind of disease, you are better armed to deal with it. You have the information and healthy habits already in place. One of the commonalities among breast cancer survivors is that before they were diagnosed, self-care was bottom of their to-do list. And taking care of others was top of the list. Put on your own oxygen mask first, my friends:)
20: Lower your IGF-1 levels: IGF-1 is a growth hormone, which may encourage the growth of cancer cells. Studies have found that those with lower IGF-1 levels in their blood, have lower incidences of cancer. How do you get your levels down? By eating a whole food plant-based diet. Just 11 days of eating a WFPB diet will bring your levels right down. Those who had been eating a WFPB diet for 14 years, were found to have half the IGF-1 levels than those who ate animal products.
21. Early Detection: See if you can find a SoneCine breast imaging machine near you: Dr. Prudence Hall introduced me to this exam, which finds breast cancer way earlier than a mammogram. It’s particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue.
One of the reasons why I created the Gorgeous For Good weekend wellness retreat was that I wanted to bring together a group of educators – powerful female doctors and teachers who lovingly help us to know specifically what to do to for preventative healthcare. Balancing our hormones is as important, as good nutrition, mindful mediation, and non-toxic beauty. I couldn’t be more thrilled and proud to have bought together the best of the best for this wonderful weekend of wellness, where women can press the pause button on their busy lives, and plug into the kind of self-care that we rarely allow ourselves to experience. I’m making room for everyone who wants to come. I don’t care if you’re twenty or eighty, if you’ve barely set foot on a yoga mat or you’re a full on hot yoga babe. If you’re a steak and red wine girl or a tofu and Kombucha guzzler – all are accepted and welcomed into my loving community. Why? Because we need each other. We are in this together my friends. And if you can’t make this weekend June 9th and 10th, stay close, and we’ll meet you somewhere down the road.