Your health is your wealth

Photo Credit: Robert Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

In 2017 in the state of Colorado there has been 24,330 new cases and 7,840 deaths due to cancer according to American Cancer Society research. Within the community of Ignacio there have been families that battled cancer and some who are currently fighting cancer. Cancer is caused by changes in cell DNA. Some changes may be passed down from our parents in the form of genetic defects, while others could be caused by environmental factors. Avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol, reaching a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise are all great steps for preventing cancer; adopting a healthy diet can also play a vital role.

From 2001-2009 the five most common causes of cancer deaths among Native American men were lung, colon and rectum, prostate, liver and kidney. The top five for Native American women were lung, breast, colon and rectum, pancreas and ovary, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Southwest Region death rates for gallbladder, cervical cancers and myeloma were higher than those of white women. But in the same region Native Americans had lower death rates than white people for lung, colon, brain, esophagus, bladder and breast cancer.

Being mindful of your lifestyle is a vital part in cancer prevention, what you eat and don’t eat can have a powerful effect on your health. Eating a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, beans, and whole grains can lower your risk for a variety of common cancers. Also keeping fiber in your daily diet plays a key role in keeping your digestive system clean and healthy to help prevent colorectal cancer and other common digestive system cancers, including stomach, mouth and pharynx.

On top of being mindful of what you eat its vital to avoid unhealthy eating habits. Avoiding trans-fat, saturated fats (no more than 10 percent daily calories) and adding more unsaturated fats such as fish, olive oil, nuts and avocado. Reduce the consumption of refined carbs and opt for unrefined whole grains like: whole wheat or multigrain bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereal, oatmeal and non-starchy vegetables. Red meat and processed meats are associated with increased risk for certain cancers according to an analysis of diet and cancer published in 2012 in the journal of oncology by Amanda Bontempo, RD. On top of limiting red meat intake also limiting alcohol and dairy consumption can cut the chances of cancer.

The way you prepare your food can take a toll on the nutrients you receive. Don’t cook oils on high heat, instead try baking, boiling, steaming or broiling. Barbequed food should not be overcooked or burnt, as it creates carcinogenic substances. Store oils in a cool dark place and airtight containers so they don’t become rancid. Avoid moldy or smelly foods. Always use microwave safe bowls or plates. When you can, buy organic and Non-GMO foods.

Several tips and steps can be taken to do your best to avoid cancer. Be as lean as possible without being underweight, be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, limit alcohol intake, aim to meet nutritional needs through diet instead of supplements, it is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Washing and steaming your raw vegetables in order to get as much of the nutrients as you can. Instead of eating red meats, replace them with fish, chicken, eggs, nuts and soy.

There are many lifestyle changes you can make in order to help protect you against cancer or fight cancer. With cancer on the rise it’s vital that as humans we treat our bodies as best as possible. Doing what you can to increase your plant based foods that are rich in nutrients, will help boost the immune system to protect you against cancer. Most people fall short of the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables. To add more to your diet, focus on adding “whole” foods, which are as close to their natural state as possible. Prevention is key.

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