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Diet and Lifestyle and Their Affect on Cancer Risk

By: Sarah Heffron, RD

We’ve all been told to eat healthy and exercise. Most people understand this will help you feel better, move better and live longer. There is growing research supporting why a healthy lifestyle (including eating a more whole-food, plant-based diet, increasing physical activity and reducing stress) can help prevent cancer among other chronic diseases.

We all have cancerous cells in our body. We can help our body get rid of these unhealthy cells and prevent their overgrowth by eating foods high in antioxidants. By eating a variety of fruits and especially vegetables, as well as whole grains and beans, we can create a healthy culture which allows healthy cells to thrive in our body, prevent inflammation and feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better? Choose brightly-colored fruits and vegetables which are often the best sources of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the active nutrients found in foods that can provide protective effects in our bodies once absorbed.

The American Council on Exercise reports as little as 10 minutes of exercise a few times a day can reduce your risk of getting cancer by up to 42%! More than half of Americans fail to get this recommended amount. Exercise helps elevate immune function, lower inflammation, helps regulate insulin levels, eliminates toxins from your body and improves digestive functions. All these factors help your body work more efficiently and, in turn, make you feel better!

Long-term chronic stress can be damaging to our body over time, especially our immune functions. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help improve your risk for chronic, as well as acute, disease. These can include:

  • Finding a professional to talk to
  • Practicing yoga or meditation
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Realizing the importance of stress and whether it is effecting you

Poor sleep, being grumpier than normal for extended periods of time and a decrease in energy from your norm are all signs you could be seriously suffering from stress.

Understanding the importance of nutrition, exercise and stress on the health of your body is of upmost importance. If you are interested in learning about ways to improve your health and prevention of chronic disease, our registered dietitians offer Live Well Now, beginning on September 17. To learn more, click here.