Benjamin Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It’s perhaps the most eloquent quote for the concept of wellness and disease prevention. If you look after your body now, you can prevent some of the worst illnesses in the future. Cancer is certainly one of the diseases that falls into this category and today I’d like to explore how a holistic wellness program can do just that. A wellness program encompasses the avoidance of unhealthy habits, undertaking healthy activities and the inclusion of health promoting foods and supplements as necessary.
Well smoking is the obvious answer to this queston and you would be hard pressed to find someone in Australia who doesn’t know this fact. Unfortunately, because of the addictive nature of cigarettes, this habit is often the hardest to give up. Luckily we have free supportive services like the Quitline (13 7848) and Quitcoach to help. Nicotine replacement therapy is another effective tool and has recently become heavily subsidised for concession holders.
There are other habits which do contribute to your cancer risk for example the consumption of foods containing nitrites/nitrates and pesticide residue. There are several ways you can reduce this risk:
There are, of course, habits you can adopt on a daily & weekly basis to protect your body from cancer and regular exercise is a well researched example here. This also includes the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in deep sea fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. These omega-3 fatty acids balance out the bad fats from animals. They are best known for being anti-inflammatory but what is less known is that these fats are present in the outer membranes of our cells which require them for cell survival. If you are not eating these foods at least twice per week (or are already suffering from an inflammatory condition) I recommend a quality fish or krill oil supplement.
Another good idea is to eat a ‘rainbow assortment’ of fruit and vegetables per day; red, orange, yellow, green and even purple. You should be eating at least 7 serves per day and even 10 has been recommended for the specific purpose of cancer prevention. The rainbow assortment allows for a variety of vitamins and minerals to be consumed but more importantly antioxidants which are key for cancer prevention and are usually present in the plant in the form of the pigment or colour.
There are certain foods (or super-foods) which provide extra protection against cancer. Foods containing the antioxidants called ‘flavonoids’ are invaluable, particularly quercetin which exists in high amounts in green tea and grape seed extracts. Green super-foods such as spirulina, chorella, barley grass and wheat grass are also great. The green pigment or chlorophyll possesses significant antioxidant and anticancer properties.
It is also essential that you aim towards 8 glasses of pure, filtered water a day to ensure the detoxification pathways of the body are supported. It is also best to avoid drinking from hard, plastic bottles, especially if re-used, as they contain chemicals which can contribute to hormone related cancers.
A Wellness program need not be overwhelmed by supplements. A good quality multivitamin which contains significant antioxidants and a fish oil if necessary will suffice if the diet is healthy and other unhealthy habits are reduced. A probiotic is often a good idea to maintain the health of the gut wall and ensure that digestion and detoxification of the gastro-intestinal tract is optimum.