February is Heart Health Awareness Month and Cancer Prevention Month
Heart Disease and Cancer Share MANY of the SAME Risk Factors
Here are 12 Factors that increase your chances of Developing both Heart Disease AND Cancer and what you can do to create Heart Health and Fight Cancer all at the same time!
- Elevated Levels of Inflammation: Ask your doctor to test your levels of CRP C Reactive Protein and address any chronic inflammatory conditions such as persistent gum disease, joint pain, heart burn, diarrhea, skin conditions. Consider eating an Anti-Inflammatory diet which includes more plant based foods than animal based foods. Include healthy fats such as monounsaturates from olive oil and omega 3 fats from flax, chia, and wild caught cold water fish such as salmon and cod. Add herbs and spices such as tumeric and ginger known to support normal inflammation control to your food.
- Elevated Levels Blood Sugar and Insulin. The presence of Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes: Ask your doctor to measure fasting glucose, fasting insulin and HgA1C to find out if you are in a healthy range. Elevations fuel cancer growth, deprive tissue of oxygen, impair circulation and damage the lining of blood vessels. Consider a low glycemic index diet with lower levels of sugars and starches and higher levels of fiber primarily from vegetables. Flavor dishes with cinnamon, a cancer fighting spice which has also been shown to enhance normal blood sugar regulation.
- Overweight, OverFat, Obese: Body Composition: High Body Fat and Low Lean Muscle: Having a high percentage of body fat in proportion to lean muscle, especially if that fat is visceral abdominal fat around your abdomen making you have an round apple shape increases many risk factors for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Abdominal fat stores increase levels of inflammation and alter normal hormonal balance. Drink Green Tea which is rich in polyphenols that protect DNA from damage, the first step in the development of cancer. Green Tea also enhances normal fat metabolism.
- Diets high in red meat, animal fats, animal proteins, sugars, low in fiber, low in fresh fruits and vegetables: The SAD (Standard American Diet) leads to many chronic diseases. Consider a Mediterranean Diet or a Vegetarian Diet that is high in phytochemicals and antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables, wild caught fish and healthy fats such as olive oil and walnut oil.
- Sedentary Lifestyle/Lack of Regular exercise: Exercise impacts both cardiovascular fitness keeping the heart muscle a good pump. Exercise increases levels of Natural Killer immune cells that fight both cancer and viral infections. Regular exercise helps to maintain normal weight and body fat , thus decreasing inflammation, blood sugar and insulin levels as well as promoting normal blood pressure regulation. According to the National Institute for Health a minimum of 150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days per week) of moderate exercise weekly is required to achieve these effects.
- Lack of Sleep, Insufficient Sleep, Insomnia and Abnormal Sleep -Wake Cycle: A normal sleep cycle is part of normal physiology. It is important not only to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but to sleep when it is dark. Darkness triggers melatonin production. Lower levels of melatonin are associated with increase risk of several cancers, including breast cancer as well increased risk of heart disease. High levels of stress hormone, eating within 2 hours of bedtime, drinking caffeinated beverages and chronic pain can all contribute to inadequate or disrupted sleep. Start with good sleep habits. Prepare yourself for bed by relaxing and going to bed earlier. Address lifestyle habits and health conditions that may impact your ability to get to sleep or stay asleep. Stop eating several hours before bedtime. Try a cup of well steeped chamomile tea in the evening to promote relaxation.