There’s just something about October that is so dreamy; from the radiant colours of the leaves and the crisp breezy air, to the fresh fall harvest available at the market for making hearty, healthy soups.
I also love October because it has been named Cancer Awareness Month–a time of year when the population kicks it up a notch to raise awareness for cancer. I am very passionate after making my own changes, and as a health coach, my career focuses on promoting healthy lifestyle choices and general well being–all of which help reduce the risk of getting cancer.
Since it’s October and we’re promoting cancer awareness, I have compiled a list of simple lifestyle choices you can make which are really basic when it comes to cancer prevention:
A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is at the top of the list for all sorts of reasons. By including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and lean, healthy proteins into your diet every day, you are providing your immune system with the tools to help you fight off disease and prevent cancer cells from growing.
Choose foods that are high in nutrients, proteins and antioxidants, and that are low in refined sugars and saturated fats. Organic options are even better to avoid chemical sprays that are used to grow fruit and vegetables.
Bottom line? Greens, greens, and more greens are your best bet when it comes to free-radical fighting and cancer prevention.
Daily physical activity (which does not have to mean going to the gym) is essential to your health. A brisk walk for 30 minutes, a short distance run, or even a ride on your stationary bike during your favourite show are all ways of getting in that recommended daily dose of exercise.
By maintaining a healthy weight through exercise (and diet), you are significantly reducing your cancer risk.
Limit Sun Exposure
We’ve talked about the many benefits of Vitamin D, but too much direct exposure to the sun can be dangerous and increase your chance of developing skin cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer. If you are going to be out in the sun for any extended length of time, it is important to use sunscreen and choose a product that emphasizes organic ingredients.
Avoid tanning beds or sunlamps, as they can be just as damaging.
This is truly a no-brainer.
Smoking is estimated to be responsible for 30% of cancer-related deaths and linked to various types of cancers, including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Even if you don’t smoke, second hand smoke can be dangerous.
Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting smoking; there are a variety of products and strategies for quitting these days. This is crucial, folks!
Stress is a killer. Our lives are so busy and crazy and we live in a place and time where multitasking is overvalued and expected from everyone.
But we need to slow down.
Stress causes inflammation, sleep disturbances (which interrupt your body’s ability to grow healthy cells and repair ones that aren’t healthy), and a huge slew of other health-related problems. In order to combat it, there are a variety of techniques that can help, including yoga, meditation, conscious breathing, aromatherapy, and more.
Ladies and gents? Slow your roll.
We all need to take our health into our own hands, and cancer prevention is no different. Listen to your body, practice self-exams, visit your doctor for regular check-ups, and go for those screenings. Early detection is key!
You can visit the Canadian Cancer Society to learn more about Cancer Awareness Month or for general information and how you can help. If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change to reduce your risk of getting cancer (or for your general well-being!) and not sure where to start, I’d love to hear from you.
For a list of upcoming events in Ontario for breast cancer awareness, visit: http://www.cbcf.org/ontario/GetInvolved/Events/Pages/default.aspx.
Enjoy your October! Love, Sophie.