What can you do to reduce your risk of breast cancer? These research-based tips can improve your breast health and make you feel better overall. An added benefit: you'll look better too.
1. Eat a plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains. Make sure you include five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Your best best: cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy. You can pack a lot of nutrition in a smoothie that takes about ten minutes to make. Just blend a handful of kale, 1/8 a small cabbage, 2-3 carrots, 2-3 stalks of celery, and an apple, with some filtered water or all-fruit juice. That makes enough for two, so you can encourage your partner's health.
2. Exercise at least a half an hour five times a week and do it consistently. The more strenuous the better—running, race-walking, or boxing, for example—as long as your knees and heart and lungs can handle it. Go for a mix of aerobic and resistance-training. You don't need weights—sit ups and push ups will do. And yoga is a great way to mix all-over toning with mental breaks. Try a yoga CD that takes 15 or 20 minutes first thing in the morning, before you even get out of the bedroom and get distracted. Yoga classes are also a great way to socialize. Walk outside as much as you can because it also reduces stress. Amuse yourself by taking photos of your surroundings.
3. Lose weight. Aim for the "normal" column of the body mass index. A 5-foot, 5-inch woman who weighs 130 pounds has a BMI of 21.6, right in the middle of the healthy range. If you eat healthy and exercise, you will naturally lose weight. This is hard, I know. I lost 50 pounds nine years ago and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I didn't dodge the cancer bullet, but I know my recovery was easier and faster because my body was geared up. Start small and just keep at it. Instead of going on a diet, change the way you eat so you pack your plate with plant-based foods and avoid unhealthy fats (in fried and processed foods, cookies, cakes, and other goodies. Just switching to a smaller plate can help.
4. Limit alcohol to less than one drink a day. Some experts say to cut it out completely. Don't pitch the wine glasses, use them for all-fruit juice instead. You can juice a watermelon, rind and all, put it in a fancy glass, and treat yourself. Add some seltzer water to any old juice for extra sparkle.
5. Reduce toxins in your environment. Add filters to your drinking water and your shower. Use chemical-free cleaning supplies—you can do a lot with baking soda and vinegar. Encourage your city and state officials to invest in low-pollution energy sources and to maintain clean water, free of agricultural and manufacturing run-off. And, speaking of those drill bits, evidence is growing that dangerous fracking chemicals make their way into our groundwater—and even the best filter won't help keep them out.