nutrition · running

nutrition and breast cancer

well, I’m glad I transitioned to this blog knowing there was no pressure to post on the regular! I’m not sure I even have any readers left, but I do still like to get my thoughts out there regardless of whether anyone is picking up what I’m putting down…

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pink for breast cancer awareness month!

this month has been a busy whir of marathon training (taper is so close I can feel it!), a big nutrition conference (FNCE, for those of you in the “know”) and ongoing breast cancer awareness month happenings. I’ve worked exclusively with breast cancer patients for the past year at an amazing breast cancer center, and it has changed me in so many personal and professional ways. The ladies I counsel are tough, hilarious, generous and more inspirational every day. I look forward to going to work in the morning and coming up with new ways to incorporate the latest research into new programs, groups and strategies to get them excited about leading a healthy lifestyle (and preventing recurrence!). Nutrition and lifestyle (stress reduction, sleep, exercise, etc.) are paramount when it comes to prevention of both breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer diagnosis, and it’s never too early to make some changes if you need to. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and it also has the highest survival rate of all cancers, making prevention of recurrence so, so important and absolutely possible. Here are some of my top tips for breast cancer prevention I recently wrote about for the MSH blog, and they’re also wonderful first steps to adapting a healthy lifestyle and feeling good in general – what’s not to like about that?

eat more vegetables
high fruit and vegetable intake has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer and a higher long-term survival rate for those who already have breast cancer. Women with higher fruit and vegetable intake are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, which is also linked to reduced risk. I recommend at least five servings (1 cup = 1 serving) of fruits and vegetables daily; more than seven is even better. If it seems difficult to incorporate this amount of fruits and vegetables into your diet, keep it simple. Aim to make each meal colorful, slowly increasing fruit and vegetable content until they comprise at least half of your meal.

cook more at home
research shows an increase in survival rates among breast cancer patients with diets low in saturated and trans fats. In the standard American diet (shorted appropriately to SAD), these fats come from fried food, fast food, processed food, and high-fat animal products like butter, full-fat dairy, and red meat. I recommend limiting saturated and completely avoiding trans fat for my patients, though evidence is mixed on saturated fat intake for the generally healthy population. Instead, cook more at home! Not only can we control what goes into our meals – no sneaky high-fat additives – but we can also experiment with fresh, seasonal ingredients and pile on the veggies. Opt for baking, steaming or broiling lean proteins like fish, roast vegetables with a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil paired with a whole grain such as quinoa, or create a one-pot wonder like hearty vegetarian chili.

limit alcohol
multiple studies have linked excessive alcohol intake to many different cancers, including breast cancer. Because higher alcohol intake is associated with increased blood levels of estrogen, limiting or cutting alcohol out of the diet is especially important to those with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. My recommendation when it comes to alcohol intake: less is more, and certainly no more than 2-3 drinks per week.

focus on real, “whole” foods
packaged food that seems healthy because of terms like “all natural,” “made with whole grains,” “lightly sweetened,” “low sugar,” “energizing,” “made with real fruit,” etc., can often influence our choices in the grocery store. Such labeling is unregulated and, quite often, these foods are full of junk (I talked about this in my last post too). Before adding these items to your shopping cart, take a peek at the ingredients list. Keep an eye out for added sugars, artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, and chemical additives. Generally, if the ingredients list contains unrecognizable food items or items, it’s not what you want to put in your body. Focus on “whole” foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. This leaves little room in your diet for the processed stuff.

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yay plants!

my brain also is on information overload from the nutrition conference I was at this week, and I hope to post about an awesome talk I attended about fueling for endurance sports (and the importance of carbohydrates despite anecdotal hype to the contrary). stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “nutrition and breast cancer

  1. I’m picking up what you’re laying down! Thank you for resuming your blog posts. Each one is so informative and I have learned so much from you. As a fellow runner, I’m very interested in learning the best way to fuel this body during long runs. And as a woman, I’m thrilled to see you write about nutrition and breast cancer.

    Keep up your good work and your running!

    Like

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