I cannot deny the conventional cancer treatments that have saved many lives. But as a nutritionist, I firmly believe that nutrition is the best investment you can think of for a strong immune system that will help in preventing cancer from forming in the first place. Functional medicine looks at the underlying root cause and then individualizes treatment, focusing on the patient instead of the disease. Good nutrition and healthy daily habits are things that you adopt day in and day out for concrete general health. Annual mammograms and colonoscopies are amazingly helpful tools for detecting cancer as early as possible and I do encourage everyone to get checked. I think you can include everyday lifestyle choices that can protect against cancer. Cancer patients do not come in sick one day when she/he was healthy the day before. Changes that ultimately lead to cancer take years to develop and play out differently for everyone; different causes, environments, and genetics also play a huge role. Considering that biochemical individuality, you as an individual can adopt certain lifestyle changes that will help reduce your risk. Creating a healthy, cancer-free terrain requires cultivating balance and removing bad habits that cause imbalances in our system.
1 || Eat Whole Foods
Choose real, whole, nutrient-dense foods and the very best quality animal foods. Abstain from all the processed foods. Make every meal an array of colorful plant foods, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoid white salt, sugar, processed grains, and fried foods. These need to be occasional just for satisfying a craving or to mesh with a social occasion. Always eat whole!
2 || Support Your body’s Natural Detoxification System
Our bodies naturally detox everyday by sweating and eliminating waste. You need to support that system by choosing high-fiber foods and include daily exercise. Your cells are always detoxifying, and a great way to help that process is by increasing your cruciferous vegetable intake and colorful fruits. It doesn’t have to be a chore to “eat your vegetables”; you can add broccoli to your salad, add some spinach to your smoothie, munch on celery and bell peppers instead of chips and crackers. Keep them handy and create a habit for you and for the people around you.
3 || De-stress
We all know that chronic stress can affect many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, immunity, and cancer. Life nowadays is inevitably stressful; requirements and expectations are high, social media plays a big role also in our lives which I personally think promotes anxiety and stress. You’ve also got strategies to reduce its impact such as meditation and yoga, spend some time alone and reflect. Find strategies that work for you and do them regularly. What have been working for me is watching videos and reading books that help me be present and eschew from thinking about the past or the future. We all need that constant reminder of how to create positivity and let go of stress.
4 || Take Care Of Your Gut
Gut health plays a major role in overall health, and you can employ several strategies to optimize your gut flora and keep it in check. Try to refrain from antibiotics and use them only when really necessary. Have legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and leafy greens for a good fiber intake. Take probiotic supplement and increase your intake of foods that support good gut flora like fermented vegetables and kefir. Include prebiotic-rich foods like dandelion and artichokes. Reduce your alcohol intake and keep sugar and white flour only for occasions and not as a daily habit.
5 || Make Exercise A Habit
An hour a day for any type of exercise; from jogging to cycling to HIIT will maintain your insulin sensitivity and help you become leaner, which will all reduce your cancer risk. Physical activity helps food move through our bowels which reduces the amount of time that the inside lining of the bowel is in contact with any harmful chemicals, like those released when you consume processed food. So there’s less chance of them being able to cause damage that could lead to cancer.
Zein Nimri is an AFPA certified sports nutritionist, NESTA kids nutritionist, long distance runner, cyclist and traveller with big dreams. Follow her on Instagram @Zeinutritionist