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Fend Off Cancer (and Other Diseases) With Four Changes to Your Life

The anti-cancer lifestyle. Make some minor adjustments to your life by eating better, getting exercise, and reducing stress -- and increase the chances of avoiding cancer and other diseases.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

More than any other health concern, cancer is still the disease that when uttered aloud stops people in their tracks. Cancer is a word many of us dread hearing, bracing ourselves for the day we may inevitably hear the word.

Interestingly, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a professor of at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and author of an amazingly hopeful book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life, reports that we all carry cancer cells in our bodies -- but that for many of us, our natural defenses help keep the cells from ever turning into the aggressive disease that haunts us.

Ongoing research and anecdotal evidence points to increased hopes that while we cannot yet block cancer and other health concerns from seriously affecting our lives and our health, there are proactive things we can do to help our bodies (and our minds) strengthen our natural defenses to better fight off and defend ourselves from debilitating and possibly fatal conditions.

What are the changes you need to make to your lifestyle to improve your defenses and help reduce your risks of cancer and other diseases? You simply have to make four adjustments to your lifestyle:
  1. Eat the right foods while eliminating bad foods.
  2. Get regular physical exercise.
  3. Reduce stress and find ways to handle it better.
  4. Remove environmental risk factors in our homes.

1. Eat Right. Most of us know we should eat healthy, but often our busy lives and other factors prevent us from implementing such a plan. Yet, by simply eliminating a few items from your diet and adding a few others, you can easily make a dramatic change in your health and wellness with very little sacrifice. (Well, for some of you, it may be a bigger struggle giving up certain things than for others.) Whenever possible, buy organic foods that are free from pesticides and other harmful ingredients.

Let's start with the good foods you should add to your diet.
  • berries (especially raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
  • citrus (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons)
  • dark chocolate (sugar-free only)
  • cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage)
  • carotenoid fruits and vegetables (carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, apricots, beets, squash)
  • olive oil
  • garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives
  • turmeric, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, ginger, and mint
  • fiber (wheat bran, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, whole wheat, whole grains, legumes, whole grain bread and pastas, and prunes)
  • seafood
  • green tea
  • Now, for the foods you must eliminate. The worst offender is sugar. Sugar is a horrible health hazard, but even worse, according to Dr. Servan-Schreiber, cancer feeds on sugar.
  • sugars of all types and shapes (and all the places it lurks: sweetened drinks, prepared sauces and dressings, packaged foods, as well as sweets -- cookies, cakes, candies, and the like)
  • white flour (because it quickly transforms to sugar in the body)
  • white breads and pastas
  • bad oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy)
  • oils high in saturated fats (palm, palm kernel, coconut, cottonseed) and especially hydrogenated oils and fats
  • meats and poultry (especially overly fatty and non-organically raised)
  • dairy products that come from animals fed on corn, soy, wheat
  • You should also try and limit your daily fat intake to no more than 20 percent of your total food calories while also adding more fruits and vegetables and reducing your meat consumption.

    For more advice on nutrition and the best foods that should be in your diet, go to the Empowering Diet and Nutrition Resources section of EmpoweringRetreat.com.

    2. Exercise Regularly. Even small amounts of daily exercise can do wonders for your health and wellness. Dr. Servan-Schreiber states that regular physical activity has been shown to improve survival rates for many types of cancer.

    The easiest way to add exercise into your daily routine is to increase the number of steps you take -- to focus on making walking part of your work or home life.

    Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day as you start on a wellness program, but make it a goal to reach at least an hour six days each week.

    Walking, swimming, and bicycling are the easiest physical activities to implement, but the key is finding something that you enjoy -- so that you get both the physical and mental benefits.

    For more information and ideas on developing an exercise plan, see the various articles and resources in our Empowering Exercise and Fitness Resources section of EmpoweringRetreat.com.

    3. Reduce Stress. Studies conclusively show that increased levels of stress have negative consequences on our health and well-being. Dr. Servan-Schreiber states that stress causes inflammation, which in turn weakens our immune system, causing a one-two punch in our fight against cancer and other diseases.

    Your goal should be two-fold. First, find ways to reduce the stress in your life by changing jobs, changing relationships, or otherwise changing your lifestyle. Second, since some level of stress is inevitable, develop better mechanisms for dealing with and responding to stress -- consider breathing exercises, meditation, yoga.

    Experts also recommend getting a good night's sleep regularly -- clocking in enough hours (typically about 7-8 hours for adults) for your body and mind to stay healthy.

    Find more resources for reducing stress -- and better dealing with stress -- as well as improving your sleep, in our Empowering Serenity and Mental Health Resources section of EmpoweringRetreat.com.

    4. Remove Risk Factors. The great military industrial complex of the last century developed many innovations that helped improve our lives. Unfortunately, we are continuing to discover that some of inventions should be avoided for the sake of our health and wellness.

    Dr. Servan-Schreiber states that these substances can impair your body's cancer-fighting abilities: cosmetics that contain certain preservatives (parabens and phthalates), Teflon from scratched pans, dry-cleaning chemicals, and gases released by new polyvinyl chloride objects. Other unhealthy base substances include benzene and xenoestrogens.

    Final Thoughts on Fighting Cancer

    This anti-cancer plan will not work for everyone, but making these four changes to your life early enough can lead to dramatic improvements in your overall health and wellness.

    Anti-Cancer Lifestyle and Diet Links

  • The Anti-Cancer Diet
  • The Anti-Cancer Diet
  • The Anti-Cancer Diet: Eat Your Way to a Healthier Life
  • The Anti-Cancer Diet II: What Not to Eat
  • The Anticancer Lifestyle
  • Thirteen Ways To Prevent Cancer
  • Interested in reprinting or republishing this article? Please refer to our Article Reprint Guidelines.

    Avid wellness guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, adventurist, environmentalist, and student of wellness and photography, with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is Founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites. Dr. Hansen is also the founder and caretaker of this site, EmpoweringRetreat.com, as well as founder of EmpoweringAdvice.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com or reach him by email at CEO(at)empoweringsites.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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