For those with a breast cancer diagnosis, or anyone wanting to better support their health, follow these 10 tips from InspireHealth.
We’re posting monthly blog posts from the integrative cancer care centre InspireHealth. This month we learn about 10 simple lifestyle changes you can make to support your overall health.
Today, more than ever before, people are gaining awareness of lifestyle choices that can benefit their health. This is reflected in conscious decisions about what to eat, amounts of exercise, and other healthy habits—the available information is abundant! Sometimes, however, all the information can be a little overwhelming, making it a challenge for people who want to make the most “efficient” choices and get the most benefit from them.
Here are 10 things to keep in mind that can have a positive impact on our overall health, as well as to support people with a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Eat the right kinds of fats: Low fat diets have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cancer recurrence, but it is important to choose the right kinds of fats to include in your diet. Increasing omega-3 fats and decreasing omega-6 fats may help prevent breast cancer as well as other chronic diseases.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables – Fruits and veggies have many healthy components including fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which provide antioxidants. Combined with an overall healthy diet, eating more fruits and vegetables can improve survival in breast cancer patients.
- Avoid eating highly processed foods – Foods that are highly processed usually have lower nutritional value and may contain unhealthy additives. They are often high in sodium and calories, contributing to weight gain and obesity, which is a likely risk factor for breast cancer.
- Get adequate amounts of vitamin D – Research shows that lower vitamin D blood levels in women puts them at greater risk for breast cancer. At InspireHealth, we recommend 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for cancer prevention and overall health.
- Exercise – Women with breast cancer who are physically active are more likely to survive; studies recommend approximately three to five hours of moderate exercise per week. Exercise can also reduce fatigue and improve quality of life.
- Have a sense of humour! – A study from Norway showed that healthy adults and those with cancer who had a greater sense of humour were less likely to die from any cause. Humour is useful as a relaxation and coping mechanism, can lessen anxiety, and has a positive effect on the immune system.
- Learn to relax – Relaxation techniques can reduce nausea in women undergoing chemotherapy, and can also help control hot flashes. Massage, yoga, and meditation can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress; help control insomnia, pain, and fatigue; and improve quality of life and well-being.
- Make a good night’s sleep a top priority – Maintain reasonable sleep-wake hours to allow the natural sleep hormone melatonin to provide its sleep and antioxidant benefits.
- Avoid toxins – Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke, and learn how to reduce and avoid toxins in your diet and household products with tips from the CancerSmart Consumer Guide.
- Develop a support network – Friends, family, and support groups all help by providing information and emotional support among other things, which can improve psychological well-being and even improve survival.