Lowering Chronic Disease Risk

Lowering Chronic Disease Risk

Chronic diseases include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions and later in life Alzheimers. Nearly 45% of cancer and chronic disease can be attributed to poor lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition and smoking. Even anxiety, insomnia, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue and thyroid problems have a lifestyle contribution.

Eat a Plant Centric Diet
Fill 75% of your plate with a variety of colors and cancer-fighting foods which come from plants. Plants contain fiber and phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, which protects cells from damage. Fiber promotes a healthy digestive system removing toxins and supporting health gut microbiota, which contributes to a healthy immune system. 

Yes Soy is OK
There was a lot of concern about the influence of soy on hormone-related cancers, due to the estrogen mimicking effects of compounds called isoflavones. But research has shown that this estrogenic effect is much weaker and that some cancer risk could be reduced by soy - prostate, breast and colon. Some people have trouble digesting soy, so its a personal choice. But if going for soy as a plant based protein, choose edamame or tofu, which is minimally processed, over fake soy-based “meats” which are heavily processed and contain preservatives and other flavoring and texture compounds which can actually increase cancer risk.

What about Meat?
High fat and red meat contain inflammatory compounds that may increase cancer risk, especially colon cancer. Having 3-4 ounces (size of a deck of cards) of good quality, grass-fed meat, five times per week is acceptable if eating lots of plants and it’s balanced within your overall diet. Bacon, hot dogs, deli and processed meats have added nitrates and preservatives that cause inflammation in the intestinal track and deplete the healthy microbiome, which leads to increased risk of gastrointestinal cancers. Hormones in conventionally produced meat and dairy also can contribute to endocrine and skin conditions, such as acne.

You Can’t Supplement your Way out of a Bad Diet!!!
There is no magic pixie dust. No magic pills. Get nutrients from food first in order to get a variety of nutrients that work better together, as the combinations are naturally found in nature. No supplement or herb is proven to combat cancer. Its a whole lifestyle situation. Also supplements are not risk free and overdose can happen. There can be negative interactions, for example, with taking excess Vitamin A (Retinol) as a smoker can increase cancer risk. Or taking excess Vitamin E intake interfering with Vitamin K metabolism and interfere with anticoagulant therapy. You can never overdose on the nutrients in food. Your body keeps what it needs and eliminates what it doesn't.

Stress and Excess. Take a break.
High levels of tension and stress speed skin aging and contribute to autoimmune conditions, recurring viruses and chronic fatigue.
Reducing stress may be cancer preventing. Research has shown that chronic stress, depression and social isolation has strong effects on diminishing the immune system and the natural killer cells. Excess dieting and excess exercising is perceived by the body as a stressor and initiates the same stress hormone cascade. More is never better. Moderation is best. Overworking is not a badge of honor. Its a gateway to overexhaustion. Mind-body medicine, such as biofeedback, meditation, relaxing yoga (not power or athletic yoga, which is competitive and increases stress), and relaxing in nature can help bring the nervous system back into balance.

Sometimes Choose Tea instead of Coffee
Tea contains EGCG and flavonoids which are cancer protective compounds for the skin. They also slow the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles and thin, sagging skin. Also tea contains less caffeine, so not as likely to spike your nervous system, causing more stress.

Trim the Fat
Excess body fat is associated with at least 13 types of cancer. Fat is an organ that stores and releases hormones and inflammatory substances that help promote cancer cell division, increase risk of insulin resistance and increase risk of cardiac disease. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise is important in lowering your cancer and chronic disease risk.

Healthy Striving
You don’t have to be perfect with your diet and lifestyle. And even if you are, there’s no guarantee that you’ll remain cancer or disease-free. There are always genetic and epigenetic factors at play that are outside of your control. What you can influence, you should strive to improve. But step away from obsession and perfectionism, which is a stress trigger. Eat healthfully, eat slowly and mindfully, and socialize with the people you love. Even occasional indulgences enjoyed mindfully and in the company of friends reduces stress and increases joy, which supports optimism, which is important to healthy living.

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Dr. Skye works with patients from all walks of life to improve their vitality and vibrancy through personalized nutrition (not fad diets), and stress management (relaxation is a prerequisite for digestion and cellular repair.) She offers specialized testing to determine true heart and diabetes risk factors, hormone imbalances and uses natural medicines, nutrition, mind-body medicine, and biofeedback to bring the body back into Ease (vs. Dis-Ease) allowing our natural innate vitality to do its healing magic. She loves helping people discover the healing power of nature, their own nature, within their own bodies. Most diseases and pain cause us to want to escape the body. However, the journey to health is within the body, discovering its nature and supporting its vitality.

Author
Dr. Skye LaChute, ND, BCB Naturopathic Physician in Bellevue WA specializing in stress management and chronic conditions

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