Written by Jenna Adams, MFN, RD, LD & Heather Fowler, RDN, LD
Want to get a jumpstart on your health before the new year sets in? Want to learn how to manage your health during the holidays while still being able to enjoy your favorite seasonal foods? Food is a big part of the holidays, and it can be challenging to stay on track, but GemCare Wellness’ Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) can help you learn and implement lasting lifestyle changes to improve your health and delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
Our free-of-charge*, virtual Diabetes Prevention Program is open to anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes or who is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes (T2). Losing 5-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58%, and if you are 60 or older, you can lower your risk by 71%.1
DPP classes provide you with knowledge and tools to navigate not only the holidays but each day successfully. You’ll learn how to incorporate the tools you learn in this program into lifelong, lasting change. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Have a light meal or snack before a holiday event to help control your appetite.
- Bring a healthy option, such as a veggie or fruit tray.
- Hold a glass of water to stay hydrated and prevent grazing.
- Scope out the selections at family meals and prioritize your favorites, forgoing those you could do without.
- Select a moderate portion of the dessert that appeals most to you.
- Plan for fun family activities indoors or outdoors, such as going for a walk, playing board games, or having a snowball fight.
Topics we will cover throughout the year include how to eat to prevent type 2 diabetes, shop and cook, manage stress, take charge of your thoughts, and stay motivated. With weekly classes in the first sixth months of the program, you’ll find the needed support to help you navigate the holiday season. Join now, end the year strong, and start 2021 one step closer to your health and wellness goals!
*Program free of charge to participants. Funded by the Ohio Department of Health.
- “About Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes.” National Diabetes Prevention Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Apr. 2019, cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/about-prediabetes.html.
While food choices cannot prevent a breast cancer diagnosis, a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk
by Chelsea Jackle, RD
Did you know that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer during her lifetime? (1) These odds may seem grim, but you should also know that survivorship has increased over the past several decades. (2) Better early detection and treatment are part of this improved outlook, but another important piece to the survivorship puzzle is prevention.
In addition to regular self-breast exams, mammograms, and follow-ups with your doctor to detect cancer early, being aware of lifestyle and nutrition changes that reduce your breast cancer risk is key. While no food or diet can prevent any cancer, eating a nutritious diet and living a healthy lifestyle can give you a better chance of reducing your risk.
There are many different types of cancer, all involving a variety of tissues and areas of the body. These differences impact how the disease behaves and how risk factors will affect it. For example, breast tissue is sensitive to changes in hormone levels (like estrogen), and this is especially true in cancer. Tumor growth is often affected by hormone levels. As most ladies know, your hormone levels change throughout each stage of life (and even within a month). This information on hormones will come in handy later.
Researchers are always studying how our diets, activity levels, and lifestyles affect cancer risk and survivorship. One of the largest ongoing projects on this topic is the Continuous Update Project (also known as CUP) from the World Cancer Research Fund. After analyzing many studies and looking for the strongest evidence available, the experts involved in this project identified a list of key factors that can impact your overall cancer risk. (2)
Foods to Include to Reduce Cancer Risk
Fruits and Vegetables
We’ve all heard that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but it may help to understand why experts emphasize the recommendation, especially when it comes to cancer risk.
Eating non-starchy vegetables can decrease the risk of a specific kind of breast cancer called ER- (or estrogen-receptor-negative). (2) Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, onions, and so many more!
Fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods like whole grains and beans contain special compounds called phytochemicals. These compounds have some long, fancy-sounding names (glucosinolates, isoflavones, and polyphenols… oh my!), but what you really need to know is that different foods have different amounts of phytochemicals, and they all play different roles, which makes it important to mix up the plant foods you eat. When you eat a variety of foods you get a variety of cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
According to the CUP research, an important family of phytochemical for reducing your breast cancer risk is the carotenoids. (2) If you’re thinking to yourself, “that word kind of reminds me of carrots,” you’re right! Carotenoids are found in carrots, but they are also found in other fruits and vegetables like cooked tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon, apricots, oranges, and cantaloupe.
Soy always seems to stir up controversy. Does it help? Does it hurt? According to the CUP project, breast cancer survivors who ate soy foods saw better survival rates!
The controversy around soy has to do with phytochemicals in soy called isoflavones, which are plant forms of the hormone estrogen. (See, I told you hormones were going to come up again!) Since high estrogen levels in the body have been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, some believe that the plant estrogen in soy is harmful. Some of this belief also comes from studies where rats were given very high doses of isoflavones and saw increased cancer rates.
However, the isoflavone levels we get from real food are much smaller than this, and humans are not the same as rats! Current evidence in humans has not shown a link between soy foods and breast cancer risk. (3) Generally, 1-3 servings from whole food sources like tofu, edamame, miso, tempeh, and soy milk is recommended.
The CUP project concluded that diets rich in calcium decrease breast cancer risk. (2) High-calcium foods include dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as fortified non-dairy alternatives. This research project also found that dairy intake can reduce the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer. (2)
Other Lifestyle Modifications to Consider
Limit or Abstain from Alcohol
Consuming alcohol increases breast cancer risk as well as the risk for other cancers (colorectal, stomach, liver). The risk increases the more someone drinks. (2)
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being in the overweight or obese categories for Body Mass Index (BMI, which can be used to screen for health problems, but in itself is not diagnostic of an individual’s health) decreases the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, but being in these weight categories during adulthood can increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Weight gain that happens in adulthood can also be a risk factor. (2) The key here is maintaining a healthy weight long-term.
Include Physical Activity
Evidence strongly suggests that vigorous physical activity (any activity that elevates your heart rate to 70–80% of your maximum heartrate) can decrease your risk of breast cancer, but any amount of physical activity can be helpful and may also reduce your cancer risk. (2, 4)
- Eat non-starchy vegetables and a variety of plant-based foods
- Include fruit and vegetables that contain carotenoids
- Include calcium-rich foods like dairy or dairy-alternatives
- Limit or exclude alcoholic beverages
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active and include vigorous physical activity if possible
Following the World Cancer Research Fund guidelines has been shown to lower the risk of developing many cancers, including breast cancer. (5) Knowing these guidelines is one thing, but implementing them can be a challenge. Our team of registered dietitians is here to help you make lasting lifestyle changes to improve your health. Book a consultation today: https://www.gemcarewellness.com/nutravantage-request-a-call/
National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and occurs each March. It spotlights the importance of making informed decisions and developing beneficial eating and physical activity habits. Taking charge of your health promotes overall well-being, a healthy weight, disease prevention, increased energy and a healthier heart just to name a few.
Adopting new habits doesn’t need to happen in one giant leap or even in the one month of March. Changes don’t need to be drastic and feel out of reach. Instead, focus on small changes that you can realistically incorporate one day at time. It is better to take baby steps on your quest to build a stronger, healthier version of yourself. Setting small goals and accomplishing those goals can be just the motivator you need.
Most people go through four phases of change when adopting a new habit. Don’t feel defeated when a new habit doesn’t automatically stick. It takes time and thought.
- CONTEMPLATION: You are considering a change
- PREPARATION: You decided to make a change
- ACTION: You have taken action to make the change
- MAINTENANCE: A change has become a new part of your routine.
Grab your calendar and start jotting down just one challenge on each day of the month and start creating some new beneficial, healthy, long-term habits!
Here are a few daily challenge ideas to get you started:
- Eat a healthy higher protein breakfast
- Eat 3 servings of veggies, make one of them dark green
- Take a brisk 20-minute walk
- Try a NEW fruit you have never had
- Try a NEW vegetable you have never had
- Eat no added sugar for the whole day
- Make a switch to a whole grain, such as eating brown rice in place of white rice
- Drink 8 glasses of water and start your day with one glass before you eat or drink anything else
- Do two 30 second planks
- Make a new healthy recipe for dinner
- Prepare a meatless meal
- Eat grilled or baked fish for dinner
- Go to bed 1 hour earlier
- Read the food label on one of your favorite foods
- Write down what you eat as you go through the day
- Plan meals and snacks ahead of time for the next day
- Place fruits and veggies at eye level in your fridge
- Meditate for 10 minutes in middle of your day
HOW WILL YOU CELEBRATE NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH®?
Did you know that fiber can help with weight loss by filling you up and keeping you satisfied longer? It also decreases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. But sadly, Americans rarely consume enough. Check out these tips on ways to include more fiber in your diet:
- Switch to a whole grain cold cereal at breakfast (if you prefer hot cereal, try oatmeal)
- Choose whole grain breads, pastas and cereals in place of more refined/processed choices
- Add a side salad with lunch or dinner
- Add a piece of fruit for a mid-morning or a late afternoon snack
- Try a fruit or vegetable smoothie at home (two servings of fruit (fresh or frozen), two servings of leafy greens, almond milk to consistency, a few ice cubes, and blend)
- Double up on your veggies at dinner
- Add fruit or beands to your dark leafy green salads
- Add raw fruits or veggies to your sandwiches or wraps
- Add chia seed or flax seed into your oatmeal or smoothies
- Snack on raw fruits and veggies as often as you can
Things to remember:
Men should aim for at least 38g per day, while women should aim for at least 25g per day. Increase your fiber intake slowly and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation or nausea.