Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As many of you may know, it is breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women and cancer as a whole, is the second leading cause of death amongst women. (second only to heart disease)

Several months ago, my OBGYN suggested that my mother who is a breast cancer survivor, take the BRCA test to determine whether or not she carried the gene. If she did, then it was likely that my sisters and I did too. My mother was reluctant to take the test, afraid to know the "fate" of her daughters, but after some coaxing, she agreed.

Several days after the test, my sisters, mother, grandmother (who is an ovarian cancer survivor) and I, received the good news that my mother did not carry the gene, and therefore it was highly unlikely that my sisters and I would.

Although the news may have seemed good at the time, it did not mean that my sisters and I were in the clear. My mother had breast cancer without the gene, proving that there is more behind breast cancer than simple genetics.

Even though symptoms may seem to come on abruptly, getting sick is not something that just happens suddenly. It is a gradual process, which is why it is important to take preventative measures now. The best part about taking preventative measures is that while they reduce our risk of disease, they also help us to feel better on a daily basis.

Below I list 13 foods that if consumed regularly can reduce our risk of not only breast cancer, but other cancers as well. As Hippocrates once said "let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." And the best kind of medicine in my opinion, happens to be preventative medicine.

13 foods to eat regularly

5.Dark cherries
6.Green tea (Decaf is best)
7.Flaxseed ( sprinkle over your cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies)
8.Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables
9. Foods with beta carotene such as oranges, carrots, and sweet potatoes
13.Red wine.(without going overboard kinda like I made the mistake of doing a few weeks back at a wine and jazz festival) It has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer.

With the list of foods to consume, always comes a list to avoid:

5 foods to reduce/avoid

1. Alcohol (does not include red wine mentioned above. However, everything should be done in moderation.)
2. High glycemic starches (white rice, white bread, white potatoes,refined sugar, and sugary products.)
3. Residual hormones found in non-organic dairy products, meat and poultry.
4. Processed meats and bacon
5. Foods made with hydrogenated oils such as french fries and donuts

**Exercising regularly, keeping a positive outlook, minimizing stress, and taking a multi vitamin will also help to reduce risk. Women 40 years and older should get a mammogram every 1-2 years.
Women who have had breast cancer or other breast problems or who have a family history of breast cancer might need to start getting mammograms before the age 40. Talk to your doctor about when to start and how often you should have a mammogram.

Please share this post with friends and loved ones. You could end up saving a life!

And for those of you keeping up with the facebook breast cancer awareness frenzy, I like "it" on the night stand. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A day in the life

People often ask me what I eat on a normal basis. Although I eat well the majority of the time, I am not perfect, and as a citizen of the modern world, it makes it difficult to eat well every single day.

Friends can attest to my absolute weakness for all things cream puff or gyro, and while I no longer crave these, I will still find it extremely difficult to say no when placed before me. On special occasions, I will often make an exception. However, lately the special occasions have been outweighing the ordinary ones, which is why it is important to seek healthier alternatives to the foods we hold dear to our hearts when possible. Take my raw chocolate-coconut truffles for example-These were a healthy way to satisfy the needs of the brownie chocolate lover inside of me!
But when we are out and not in control of what is being served, and just really, really, really want the chocolate cake, remember portion control. A piece of cake the size of your head will be no more satisfying than a small slice unless you are famished. Trust me!

However tempting the chocolate cake, gyros, and cream puffs in life can be, eating healthfully always ends up feeding us more. So without further a do, here is a look into a good day of eating for me...

Early Morning Before Work
7:15am- alarm goes off, 4 snoozes later, I rise, do a few short stretches/yoga poses to get the blood flowing and head to the shower.
7:50- I make my way to the kitchen to make my daily morning smoothie. This week it has been kale, bananas, almond milk, and water. Other days might be banana, spinach and blueberries, or collard greens and mango. (Whatever I happened to buy that week)
I continue with the rest of my routine and walk 20 minutes to work. (New Yorkers have a higher life expectancy due to all the walking we do. So for those of you living in the burbs, try walking to the places that are within reasonable distance to your home)

Morning at work
I fill up my Klean Kanteen with water and continue to drink and refill, sometimes adding fresh lemon juice, until around 10:00am, when I start to feel hungry. That’s when I will have some fruit (either an apple or a cup of berries) and a handful or two of raw almonds or cashews. I also keep brown rice cakes and green energy bars on hand, for the mornings when the fruits and nuts just aren't enough.

Noon at work
By noon I can feel my stomach growling and am ready for lunch.
Lunch today consists of an arugula salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, lemon juice, dill, red onion, and extra virgin olive oil. After my salad I usually wait 10-15 minutes before having something a bit hardier. Today I have mashed sweet potatoes mixed with organic apple sauce and cinnamon. Other days might be an ezekiel english muffin with almond butter or homemade hummus, or sometimes a serving of quinoa with veggies.

Afternoon at work
I continue to drink water throughout the day, occasionally throwing in some decaf green tea into the mix to change it up a bit.
By 3pm, I’m hungry again and have more fruit, nuts, or veggie sticks on hand. Some days I am hungrier than others and might head out for a a fruit smoothie or Greek yogurt. Other days I feel like I can use more energy and might get a green juice.

Evening at home
On a good day, I get home by 5:45 and am ready for dinner. Last night consisted of a salmon burger, an avocado and baby spinach side salad, and some veggies, (usually broccoli or steamed kale with lemon juice and garlic)Other nights consist of homemade soup with ezekiel english muffin and salad on the side, a Quinoa stir fry, or any other healthy creation I can devise with what is in my fridge.

If I feel hungry for something sweet after dinner, I’ll usually have some organic apple sauce with cinnamon and a little later on in the night green tea with a bit of honey. Other nights I might make myself another green smoothie.

If it’s a yoga day, I will have a green energy bar or banana to hold me over after work, and head to class. When I get home I will make the above, but will make sure I’m also drinking plenty of water and/or coconut water as I do Hot Yoga and need to hydrate!

So that is a typical day of eating for me. What is a typical day of eating like for you? Where might you need support?

**Please note that everyone is different and what works for me and my lifestyle may not work for you. This is not at all an essay on what everyone should be eating on a daily basis, but rather an answer to the queries I often receive on what a typical day is like for me. For those of you with specific health concerns, please email me at healthlegume@gmail.com