The traditional colors of October have been shifting recently from orange & black to pink. All over town here in Washington, GA, store windows are painted with pink ribbons and words such as “hope” and “dream.” Thanks to the Susan G. Komen efforts, pink has come to symbolize a collective fight against breast cancer nationwide. But while pink may be the theme color, research shows more and more that our reds, oranges, yellows, green, blues, purples and browns are the real heroes behind cancer prevention.
I could go into great detail about all the things you should and shouldn’t eat but the truth is a lot of us already know that to prevent cancer you need to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables (cauliflower included even though it’s white!) and eat not just whole wheat but a variety of whole grains (like quinoa, barley, millet and oats too!). Some of you may not already know, however, that being overweight may soon surpass tobacco use as the leading cause of cancer. Or that over two thirds of ALL cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting daily exercise. Or even that all of us have pre-cancerous cells in our bodies and what we eat can either promote these cancer cells or destroy them.
The following top recommendations here come directly from AICR, American Institute on Cancer Research. AICR performs a meta-analysis of all cancer & lifestyle factors published to produce solid, research based recommendations on how you can prevent cancer. They also offer a ton of delicious recipes and ideas to use fruits and vegetables you may normally pass over in the grocery store or farmers market.
Dr. Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD has published this book on research based advice on foods and habits that boost your body’s ability to destroy cancer cells along with conventional treatments. My favorite point that is emphasized in this book is that healthy eating can be incredibly satisfying and delicious.
In this last week of October, rather than think about all the things you know you should be doing, start to think about one or two lifestyle changes you could actually be doing. Maybe it’s a decision to start reading food labels and avoid buying any product that contains “partially or fully hydrogenated oils” (known as trans fat). Or perhaps you decide to carve out thirty minutes once a week to go to your local farmer’s market and let your kids pick out a new vegetable they want to try. Even easier may be to start drinking a cup of green tea each afternoon to refocus for the last couple hours of work. By focusing on one or two small changes at a time, you are able to snowball your efforts into lifelong habits. Trying to completely change your eating habits all in one day, however, usually leads to frustration and failure.
So to help continue to fight breast cancer all year long, keep thinking pink but don’t forget about red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and brown too!