cancer prevention

The Truth About Breast Cancer

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Think Pink,” “Run For The Cure.” There are all of these different campaigns aimed at bringing awareness to breast cancer, which is not a bad thing.

We want to bring awareness to cancer. Today, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will have cancer.

But there are a lot of lies and deceptions associated with cancer. Sickness is the biggest business on earth.

My grandmother had breast cancer. I have very vivid memories of her and the one side of her clothing that always laid flat against the mastectomy she had to undergo. So naturally, I was a huge supporter of the “Pink Movement.”

image

Me at 5, with my grandma and grandpa.

There was always that fear that lived inside of me that I may one day have breast cancer.

When I was 19, I had surgery on my left breast. I remember the night I found the lump like it was just yesterday. I was 18 and it was mid November and, as per my nightly routine, felt around for lumps before I went to sleep. For those of you who have had these “this could never happen to me” situations, have an idea of the emotions coursing through me when I made this discovery. Needless to say, I hardly got any sleep that night.

The doctors told me not to worry about it, that it will most likely just go away. Something didn’t feel right though and I pushed it. My mother was in the medical field and she was able to get me a second opinion with the top surgeon in the field. I made them do a biopsy. It was tiny, about the size of a nickel. It wasn’t cancerous and they wanted to leave it but you know that feeling you get sometimes? The one that taps you on the shoulder and tells you that something isn’t right? I wanted it taken out.

My surgery was scheduled 8 months later. A week before my wedding.

I woke up during my surgery. It was suppose to be a quick one, but when they cut me open they found it had grown quite large. The size of a softball. So the surgery went longer then expected and not enough anesthesia was administered. “Doctor, she’s awake… ”

I had a benign, yet aggressive fibroadenoma. I was advised to have yearly mammograms after that. I’m now 31 and still have not had one. Once I had all the facts and a better understanding of cancer and prevention, I was able to make a more well-rounded decision.

Today, 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer.

A couple of years ago, there was a lot of Hollywood hype around the BRCA gene. Angelina Jolie had this gene and she thought that they only way for prevention was to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy.

She should have been told that our genes do not control our life. You can activate genes and deactivate them. What her doctor should have told her is that the way she lives her life will alter the expression of those genes and her risk of cancer. If we deactivate our genes with our healthy lifestyle, we do not get cancer.

She removed healthy breasts. The BRCA genes are actually cancer-protective genes. They are tumor suppressive, protective genes. They help to repair DNA damage, but if it mutates, then it can cause a problem possibly. But what causes it to mutate?

So do you inherit breast cancer genes? Is it genetic?

“Well, my mother/grandmother had breast cancer so I’m probably going to have breast cancer.”

But we now know through the study of epigenetics, which is the science of looking into gene expression, and nutrigenomics, which is the study of food, we know that we can change our gene expression by what we eat, how we sleep or don’t sleep, and how we manage or don’t manage our stress.

We should not be dying of cancer. The body knows what it’s doing. Nobody believes this anymore. Our bodies are designed to thrive, if we give it half the chance.

First of all, what is cancer? We’ll dive into that next week.

‘We the People’ not ‘We the Corporations’

Before I had kids, I had the worst diet imaginable. I just didn’t really think much about it. As long as it tasted good, it was fast and it was convenient, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was clueless about nutrition and the powerful effect food has on us and I didn’t know the ugly truth about the food industry.

The birth of my first child, however, inspired an urgency in me because I now had to make decisions on his behalf. And if you are a parent, I am sure you can understand where I am coming from. One of my jobs is to provide him with the very best and to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him.

On top of that, I wanted to have the energy and vitality to keep up with him. I wanted to be my healthiest and live as long as I could to be there for him through this difficult life and to live long enough to see my grandkids.

Not only are those some of the things that propelled me down this path of health and wellness, but what also triggered it is that many people that I loved and cared about have been taken too soon from disease or cancer, or suffering from it. It got me thinking and I started to question what was causing this rampant plague that was ravaging people all over the country.

Is it fate – our genes? Is it what comes with age? I needed to know.

All directions kept pointing me towards our diet and lifestyle.

When it comes to the food that we eat, it is very important that we know where it comes from, who grows it and what the ingredients are. I know I sound like a broken record but I just can’t stress it enough!

Food is a very powerful thing!

The food that we eat becomes us.. literally! It becomes the substance of our muscles, our skin, our hair, our bones – basically every cell of our body. We gain the qualities of the food. Not to mention that our brain, which is a very hungry organ, absorbs around 60% of the food that we eat – and, yes, you’re connecting the dots here – there is a food/mood connection as well.

Our lifestyle and the foods that we eat, have the ability to turn genes on or off. Genetics load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

As I mentioned in my post The Junk Food Generation, there are 600,000 food items in America today.

Last week, General Mills announced they were buying Annie’s for 820 million dollars. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Annie’s, it is a natural and organic food company who is best known for their macaroni and cheese line.

As people are becoming more and more conscientious of their health, the organic and natural foods industry is steadily growing and going mainstream. We live in a world in which food companies are extraordinarily competitive with each other. Their job is to sell more product; and if they are a publicly traded company, they have shareholders to please. And organic is profitable.

Most of the iconic organic brands today have been bought and are now owned and controlled by the titans of the junk food industry.

Coca-Cola owns:
• Honest Tea
• Odwalla
• Zico Coconut Water
General Mills owns:
• Cascadian Farms
• Muir Glen
Pepsi owns:
• Naked Juice
Colgate now owns:
• Toms of Maine, the toothpaste company

Some say that it is a good thing that the natural foods industry is growing. Others say it is in danger of losing its very soul.

What goes through your mind when you see corporate America taking over the natural and organic food business?

These corporations like Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola and Monsanto and others poured 22 million dollars into fighting the GMO labeling battle. How does that make you feel that the profits that they are earning from the organic brands they now own are being used to fight our access to information?

Why are they fighting tooth and nail to keep this information from us?

We don’t all need to reach the same conclusions but there are beliefs that we all share. There are certain decencies that matter to all of us.

Do we choose to close our eyes and ears to it? Or do we choose to engage in it? These are not radical positions. They are not Democratic or Republican positions. They are not old or young or urban or rural positions. They are fundamental human concerns.

I have strong opinions and I hope that my kids will share my opinions but I wouldn’t insist on it. I am not trying to create an ethical replica of me and it is not to create somebody who acts on my beliefs. It is to help somebody to become an adult who can act on his beliefs. I want my kids to be aware of the choices that are in front of them, be aware of their ability to makes choices and to be confident when making choices that are outside of societal norms.

The extent to which there is corporate control of our food policy and of our food supply has massive implications to the health of the people. What bothers me the most is the enormous effort that food companies are doing to try and sell their products, regardless of the effects of their products on health.

I just want to say, though, that they are not out to poison the world. They will sell whatever sells.

Food choices – how we eat, what we eat and what we buy is a form of activism. When people buy organic, more farmers will produce organics. When people complained that tomato pickers weren’t getting paid enough money, Walmart raised their wage to a penny more per pound.

Think about women’s rights or even slavery. Slavery didn’t end because people started buying sugar-free foods. It happened because people advocated to make it unacceptable and to end it legally.

Anthony Gucciardi said, “There’s a reason that mega corporations like Monsanto are afraid of you, the activist. They know that despite their billions, despite their deception, that you as a consumer ultimately control their fate. Because by changing a single purchase at the grocery store, you change the world.”

So eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Sauerkraut: A Superfood You Should Be Eating

The other day, I decided to make some raw, homemade sauerkraut, since it had been a while since I made any. It is one of the top foods I would recommend incorporating into your diet. 70% of your immune system lies in your gut so it is really important that we have the necessary bacteria present to fight off any pathogens that may enter our system.

Reasons I love using cabbage:
1) Unique cancer preventative properties with respect to bladder, colon and
prostate cancer.
2) Rich in antioxidants
3) Rich in anti-inflammatories

Cancer prevention tops all other areas of health research in regards to cabbage. It is impressive in terms of antioxidants, which is partly responsible for its cancer prevention benefits. You can also count on cabbage to provide cardiovascular support in reducing cholesterol. The fiber in cabbage binds to bile acids and when this happens, your liver replaces the lost bile by drawing upon your existing supply of cholesterol, and as a result, cholesterol levels drop.

Given the outstanding benefits of cabbage, when you ferment it or any other vegetable it becomes a superfood. To gain the benefits from sauerkraut, it MUST be made the traditional way and consumed raw.

Apart from its deliciously tangy flavor, sauerkraut offers remarkable health benefits. The fiber and lactic acid bacteria improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy gut flora, protecting against many diseases. It is low in calories, rich in enzymes and high in vitamin C. Sauerkraut has 200 times more vitamin C than the head of cabbage before fermentation!

Lactic acid is one of the most powerful antiseptics. It kills off tons of bacteria… so as the lactic acid starts producing, it kills off the putrefactive and pathogenic microbes and preserves the food. Another bonus to eating sauerkraut, is that it is higher in B vitamins than cabbage, particularly B12, making it an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians. The lactic acid produced by the bacteria actually “digests” the food, making sauerkraut extremely easy to digest and making the nutrients present more easily absorbed by the body.

In a 4-6 ounce serving of fermented vegetables there are literally ten trillion bacteria. That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. This means one 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics!

Finnish researchers reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that the fermentation of cabbage produces compounds called isothiocyanates which protect against cancer.

So… if you’re feeling like you need a physical boost of wellbeing… TRY SOME! 🙂

Here’s a basic recipe I like to use to make sauerkraut:

You will need:
A large bowl
A glass jar
Cabbage
Kosher salt (the salt must not contain iodine, which inhibits bacterial growth)

To start, remove about 3 of the outer leaves and set aside.

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then slice the cabbage thinly. I like to use my mandolin.

image

Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl, adding salt as you go. You want to use a tablespoon of salt (I like to use Celtic Salt) for every 2 pounds of cabbage (generally, a medium-sized cabbage)

image

You can use a pounder to pound the cabbage but I like to use my hands and squeeze the cabbage to draw out the juice. You will see the cabbage become watery and limp.

image

Pack the cabbage into the jar, pressing down on the cabbage with a wooden spoon while pouring the brine over the cabbage as you go.

Leave an inch or two of space from the top. Roll up the outer leaves that you set aside and place them on top of the sauerkraut to keep it submerged.

image

Put the lid on the jar and place the container in a cool, dark place where it will not be disturbed.

Small batches can be finished in as little as 4 days. The time you want to ferment is up to you. I recommend at least 4 weeks for maximum probiotic benefit.

Once your sauerkraut is ready, store it in the refrigerator where it will last a very long time.

Enjoy!

Xo, Kristine