The Importance of Nutrition and Exercise in Breast Cancer Awareness

Rec & PE Blog

This blog feature is a write-up from Sheri Branson, Full Time Instructor in the Health, Wellness & Physical Education academic department.

Women can make several nutrition and lifestyle choices each to decrease their chances of breast cancer:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight | Being overweight, even 10%, can increase risk of breast cancer.  Maintain a healthy weight through daily exercise and eating a low fat, mostly plant-based diet. Exercising for 4 or more hours per week can decrease hormone levels and help lower risk for breast cancer. 
  • Eat a Plant-Based Diet | Plant foods are a good source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals which can decrease the risk of cancer and protect the body from other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Choose whole grains and legumes and at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. 
  • Limit Dietary Fats | Include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish over butter, high fat dairy, fatty meats, and hydrogenated oils. 
  • Include Soy in Your Diet | Soy is an excellent source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, calcium, and isoflavones which can help bind estrogen and may help decrease the risk of hormone related cancers as well as protect bone density.  Good sources include soy milk, tofu, and soybeans. 
  • Green Tea | Green tea has been shown to have strong anticancer properties. Aim for 1-4 cups daily. 
  • Alcohol | Consuming alcohol is a strong risk factor for several different types of cancer, including breast cancer.  Experts recommend limiting your intake to 2 servings per week or avoiding alcohol altogether for prevention of cancer. 
  • Bone Health and Vitamin D | It is important to consume adequate calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health at any age but is especially important after menopause due to the increased increase to osteoporosis.  This can be achieved by consuming low fat dairy products, fish, eggs, or taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.  Try getting 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight each day. 
  • Avoid Sugar Intake | Limit intake of sweets added sugars in processed foods, and sugar sweetened beverages.  High sugar intake increases insulin levels and encourages weight gain, which can lead to various cancers.  Natural sugars found in plant foods are the best source of carbohydrates for your body. 
References

Image Credit: Laårk Boshoff on Unsplash