Lowering your risk of serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease is easier than ever. Here are surefire mind, body and diet tricks to fight disease.
You can take control of your health destiny. It’s as easy as making a few simple lifestyle changes. Studies show that eating a diet rich in antioxidants, exercising regularly and reducing stress can significantly lower your risk of developing many illnesses. We culled the latest research for the mind, body and diet moves to guard against the top diseases that strike women.
MIND: Get over your grudges. A new study suggests that people with forgiving natures have lower blood pressure than those who are more stubborn. Tip: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. By trying to understand someone’s behaviour, you’ll be more empathetic and forgiving. BODY: Pump some iron. A recent study found that those who trained with weights for at least 30 minutes per week reduced their risk of heart disease by 23% compared to those who didn’t. Insulin resistance has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Strength training increases your muscle mass, which reduces your body’s resistance to insulin.
Get over your grudges. A new study suggests that people with forgiving natures have lower blood pressure than those who are more stubborn.
DIET: Drink orange juice. Consuming at least 360 mg of vitamin C in a day from food or supplements appears to reduce your risk of heart disease by 27%. Antioxidants from vitamin C may prevent LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, from hardening your arteries. One eight-ounce glass of orange juice has 72 mg of vitamin C.
MIND: Relax. Chronic stress may lower your body’s cancer fighting abilities. Studies of people who were caring for family members with Alzheimer’s disease showed that they had lower levels of immune-boosting cells, which are among your first defenses against cancer. If these cells are low and you develop a tumour, you theoretically may not be able to fight the cancer. BODY: Sweat hard and often. One study found that vigorous exercise such as running, cycling or swimming for four hours a week led to a 40% reduction in colon cancer risk; more moderate activity didn’t affect the risk for the disease. For best results, aim for at least 45 minutes of cardio five or more days a week. It helps speed waste through your gastrointestinal tract, decreasing the amount of time those organs come into contact with possible carcinogens. DIET: Eat dairy. A diet rich in calcium can reduce the risk of developing precancerous polyps by about 24%. Get about 1,200 mg a day. Two good sources: A cup of plain non-fat yoghurt (450 mg) and a cup of calciumfortified orange juice (350 mg).
MIND: Get a good night’s sleep. Research suggests that women with disrupted sleep patterns may be more
One study found that vigorous exercise such as running, cycling or swimming for four hours a week led to a 40% reduction in colon cancer risk.
cancer-prone. Over time, erratic sleep can alter the balance of hormones that protect against cancer-causing mutations. Aim for seven to eight hours of shuteye nightly. Establish a relaxing routine like reading for half-anhour before bed to signal your brain that it’s time to sleep. BODY: Walk. A recent study found that the risk of the earliest stage of breast cancer is about 35% lower in women who exercise one hour a week compared with that of those who get little or no activity. Another study, of postmenopausal women, found that those who walked briskly for roughly one to two and a half hours weekly lowered their risk of breast cancer by 18%. DIET: Cut back on sugar. New research shows that refined sugars (found mostly in soft drinks, candy and other junk food) up your chances of developing this disease. These foods spur the production of insulin, which causes your body to release a substance called insulin-like growth factor, which increases breast cancer risk.
MIND: Meditate. A study found that meditation increases levels of melatonin, a hormone that experts think supports the immune system. A strong immune system helps your body get rid of abnormal cells, including cancerous ones, more effectively. BODY: Lose those last 10 pounds. Women who have body
A study found that the risk of the earliest stage of breast cancer is about 35% lower in women who exercise one hour a week compared with that of those who get little or no activity.
mass indexes over 25 have twice the risk of developing cervical adenocarcinoma, which accounts for up to 15% of all cervical cancers. This type of cancer generally occurs higher up in the cervical cavity, and it may be more difficult for doctors to reach those cells during Pap smears if you’re overweight. Another possibility is that heavy women have higher estrogen levels, which may predispose normal cells to turn cancerous. Keep your BMI within the healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9. What’s more, an Australian study found that just two hours of vigorous exercise a week (such as jogging, cycling, swimming or aerobics) reduced ovarian cancer risk by more than 50%. DIET: Think Italian. Women who ate at least one cup of tomato sauce weekly had a 40% decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from cancercausing damage. Cooked and processed tomato products like ketchup and stewed tomatoes have the highest, most concentrated amounts of lycopene.
MIND: Use it or lose it. One recent study found that intellectual activities, such as reading books, going to museums, even doing jigsaw puzzles, may reduce by threefold your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If you don’t challenge your brain, it will make you more susceptible to the disease. BODY: Go for a run. People who worked out vigorously (three times a week at a pace more intense than brisk walking) were about 60% less likely to get Alzheimer’s than those who didn’t exercise at all. Regular exercise may prevent the hardening of brain blood vessels that’s linked to Alzheimer’s. DIET: Fuel up on folate. One Swedish study found that more than half of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s had low levels of vitamin B or folate. These vitamin deficiencies may cause hardening of the arteries in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s.
One recent study found that intellectual activities, such as reading books, going to museums, even doing jigsaw puzzles, may reduce by threefold your rish of developing Alzheimer's.
MIND: Practice progressive muscle relaxation and stress management. Diabetic patients who incorporated these two techniques into their daily life significantly reduced their blood sugar levels. The change was almost as large as what you’d expect to see from some drugs used to control blood sugar levels. BODY: Walk 12 miles a week. People who exercised for approximately three hours a week reported better insulin sensitivity (meaning their bodies were more effective at regulating blood sugar) than those who exercised for around two hours, regardless of workout intensity. DIET: Go low-carb. (Notice we said low-carb, not no-carb.) New research shows that overweight people on a low-carbohydrate diet (containing 30 gms, or about 30% of their daily caloric intake) lost three times more weight than those on a low-fat diet. The low-carb dieters also improved their insulin sensitivity. Eating more protein and fat may make you feel fuller, so you’re less likely to consume extra calories. It also helps prevent the blood sugar fluctuations and spikes in insulin that set the stage for diabetes.
MIND: Do yoga. Research shows it can stem the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which stimulate cells that break down bone. One simple move to try: Sukhasana. Sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees, your spine straight. Allow your knees to gently lower to help support your back and hips. Take slow, deep breaths for 30 seconds to two minutes. BODY: Jump rope or engage in other high-impact exercise. Try jogging or doing aerobics three or four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. These put the most pressure on your bones, thus making them stronger. Or jump up and down for five minutes. DIET: Get five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. They’re rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that help maintain bone-mineral density. Also, make sure you get 10 to 35% of your calories from lean protein in the form of low-fat dairy, chicken and fish. Researchers found that bone-mineral density increased in people whose diets included high levels of protein as well as calcium.
Do yoga. Research shows it can stem the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which stimulate cells that break down bone.