Archive for Cancer Prevention

We want you to Fight Right! What exactly does this mean?

 

Why does HCB2 focus on cancer prevention and use the phrase, let’s “Fight Right”? Two stories led us to the creation of the Fight Right initiative! 

First, several years ago an early morning show began a cancer awareness segment. To highlight the successes of research and treatment for one particular cancer, the guests included cancer survivors – many of them in early remission. So how did they honor and celebrate the survivors and the advances in medicine? They honored the achievements by bringing out a huge cake. Cake was served to honor those who had just completed their treatment. It was hard to watch many of these women, who had lost their hair throughout their courageous journey, served large pieces of cake. Why does this matter? Well, to start, our bodies simply do not need added sugars to live, especially not in the amounts often consumed in the modern American diet.

The second example was over 10 years ago when my first husband Rich Conklin, was heavily challenged with stage four colon cancer at the young age of 42. During the years of his cancer treatment, our children were athletically active in their late high school years. I was also working full time, as was Rich, in addition to his after-work coaching job as a high school football coach. Needless to say, our lives were hectic. As I saw the treatments taking a toll on his body, mind, and spirit, I began to take a close look at the daily noise we mindlessly added to our lives. Well wishers would make passing comments such as “Keep fighting, Rich!” and the cards we received stated, “Keep up the fight”, or “We are fighting with you”. I began to redefine the word “fight” and the images that came to mind. What is the best way to “fight”? All I craved was stillness and peace. We were tired of the “fight”. It had been nine months and the way we were fighting was not working.

The body’s physiological response when “fighting” helps to create an environment where cancer can thrive. Fighting raises adrenaline and cortisol levels, tenses muscles, and can deplete the body of magnesium and other critical nutrients. Consuming a high sugar diet does not help this situation as excessive sugar consumption can create an inflamed, acidic bodily environment where disease, including cancer, can thrive.1-2 Our fight during and after treatment truly seemed counterproductive to recovery. So, is there a better way to fight?

Yes, there is! HCB2 strives to help individuals and communities create both internal and external environments where cancer is challenged to survive. Helping individuals build and maintain a bodily environment that is unable to host the growth of cancer is a part of our work.

It’s no surprise HCB2 discourages the delivery of a plate of cupcakes or cookies to a new survivor in early remission. Isn’t it time to celebrate though? It sure is! Let’s, however, find ways to keep the “Fight Right”. HCB2’s Fight Right initiative educates and encourages folks to consider how they are “doing” life. How and what are we eating? How are we moving? How are we reducing stress? Being mindful about our daily routines can help bring about positive change. The Fight Right initiative includes three focus areas:  Nourish. Move. Breathe.

Nourish 

Real whole foods (and water) help our bodies to function as intended. We strive to decrease toxic burden and reduce inflammation in the body and nutrients found in whole foods have this ability. Unfortunately, sugar-laden and processed foods add to the toxic load and increase inflammation. HCB2’s anti-inflammatory grocery list is a great resource for those wondering what it means to “give our bodies more of what it needs and less of what it does not”.

Instead of cupcakes, we help to educate patients and survivors on our body’s need for healthy fats, clean proteins, minerals, water and the brilliance of greens and vegetables. We provide resources directly to cancer patients such as the Healing Belly Basket. And we can help point the way to a cleaner, lower carb treat that has the savory flavor we all enjoy.

Move

Our bodies are designed to move. Regular movement helps to reduce blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, move the lymphatic system (our body’s detoxification system) to eliminate waste and toxins, and bring oxygen into the body, which can reduce inflammation. 

Movement also helps us to build strength, endurance, flexibility and can help with postural alignment and the maintaining of balance. Research also shows that exercise can help to combat some of the side effects of cancer treatment! The positive outcomes associated with movement through cancer treatment includes better sleep, increased energy, decreased levels of depression, increased confidence, and less post-treatment weight gain. Continuing to move throughout cancer treatment provides benefits to the patient and creates a foundation for continued positive outcomes throughout survivorship.

Breathe

Our bodies are designed to rest in appropriate amounts. However, did you know you can rest while you work? Just by focusing on your breath during work or movement can provide several benefits to our bodies. By being present and focused on taking large diaphragmatic breaths while at work can increase an overall sense of well being. Being mindful during your tasks can reduce emotional, mental and physical stress. Chronic stress creates a constant drip of cortisol in our bodies which can increase inflammation and damage arteries. By bringing more oxygen into the body through deep breathing the immune system can be strengthened and lymph (cellular, and other, waste) can be moved out of the body. When you are driving in your car, typing an email, or cooking dinner, consider being mindful of the breath as a way to help reduce the dis-ease which can come from chronic stress.

We must eat, move, and breathe every day to remain alive. The Fight Right initiative focuses on those three activities and educates community members about the benefits of becoming mindful as to our state of being during those actions. We are human beings, not human “doings”. Being aware of how we take in nourishment, take in oxygen, and move through our day is free, simple, and may be the game changer in cancer prevention. Fight Right!

References

  1. Harvard Health. (2017, May). The Sweet Danger of Sugar. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.
  2. Crawford, Amy. (2019, March 20) Increasing evidence of a strong connection between sugar and cancer.  Medical Xpress. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-evidence-strong-sugar-cancer.html. 

Salt! More or less?

Salt! More or less?

Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2) has considered salt an important component of our healing belly basket since the program’s inception in 2016. Full of minerals and electrolytes, salt helps our muscles move, helps our nerves function, keeps our body fluids balanced, and so much more! We strongly recommend unrefined salt over the highly processed white table salt as it is heavily refined. In contrast, unrefined sea salt, celtic salt and pink salt offer not only sodium and chloride (i.e. salt), but several other electrolytes and minerals, including trace amounts of magnesium that is critical to optimal bodily function.

The recommendation to smartly add salt, and not less, may seem contradictory to conventional dietary guidelines, but we are not alone in this recommendation. Researchers like Dr. James DiNicolantonio of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, suggests in his book, The Salt Fix, that quality salt intake is essential to the management and prevention of disease, including heart disease!

The body’s need for salt is likely to vary from person to person as well as day to day. You may need more or less depending on certain health conditions, level of physical activity, and salt intake from foods. For instance, experiencing chronic stress or participating in a moderate/intense exercise program can create a need for additional unrefined salt in your diet. Listen to your body and don’t hesitate to do the research for yourself.

We are not encouraging readers to add salt with reckless abandon, especially in its inferior form as table salt. We strongly suggest refraining from consuming heavily processed fast and packaged foods that are often loaded with refined salt and include other low-quality additives such as refined sugars. HCB2 advocates for the consumption of real, whole foods including healthy fats, clean fruits and vegetables, clean proteins, along with unrefined salt.

Feel free to check out the HCB2 Fight Right Anti-Inflammatory Grocery List for more information on eating in ways that can help reduce the burden on our bodies. You will find some suggestions for unrefined salt included on the list. So push away that table salt shaker and discover other ways to give your meal a salty sprinkle. Your body will thank you!

Start the Conversation

Can We Talk?  I just need a moment. This one, short conversation could be a game changer for you and your family. Unfortunately, this brief conversation is rarely started and loved ones suffer. HCB2 sparks conversations that are just hard to start. So what does HCB2 want to talk about?

We want to talk about your potty time – yep, potty time is no longer private time here at HCB2! We want to unlock the silence that is allowing a deadly disease to thrive. It’s critical to de-shame topics such as elimination, poop, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in stool.  Additionally, we want loved ones to talk about their family history as opposed to avoiding the conversation. Moreover, we hear the words ‘colon, rectal, or anal cancer’ whispered softly ‘out of respect’ or to avoid shaming the patient or lost loved one. Enough!  HCB2 understands how the avoidance of this discussion leads to heartache, and how we unintentionally keep colorectal cancer alive and well with our silence.

HCB2 has created a one page form with six simple questions you can use to start the conversation with loved ones. Six easy questions which help to break through the silence.The questions may lead to laughter, may lead to more questions, or may lead to a more serious discussion. Whatever the tone of the conversation, the silence has been broken, new information has been learned, and ultimately, lives may be saved.

See attached link for the CanWeTalk.pages which can provide assistance in starting the conversation and it provides information about symptoms and screening options. After your conversation, share your experiences with us! We would love to hear from you. Email info@hcb2.org. Start the conversation #cancerhatesthat

Helping you to Fight Right: HCB2’s Anti-Inflammatory Grocery List

Last year, HCB2 partnered with Dr. Marlisa Hurt to create an anti-inflammatory grocery list. As many of you know, we offer free Healing Belly Baskets (make your request here) to cancer patients and survivors, but we realized that people were looking for more information and support beyond this service.

The HCB2 grocery list focuses on consuming quality fats, clean proteins, veggies, and low-glycemic fresh fruits. We also highlight the importance of hydration and identify foods which support our gut microbiome – the “good guy” bacteria that plays a role in digestion and helps to synthesize nutrients.

The anti-inflammatory grocery list encourages folks to limit or avoid certain foods and food-like substances that have been linked to less than optimal health outcomes. This includes the avoidance of added and excess sugars in the diet, as well as avoiding all forms of artificial sugars. For instance, if you prefer to add something sweet to your food or drink, we recommend liquid stevia or luo han guo (also known as monk fruit).

You might notice that grains and legumes are missing from the HCB2 grocery list. Too often, many people are consuming large amounts of these over processed foods. Most grains are highly glycemic and very difficult to digest especially in individuals where their gut health may be compromised.

Caffeine and alcohol are also off the list. It’s good to know that these chemicals are not necessary for proper bodily function though many of us may feel the need for that coffee jolt in the morning. For those dealing with health issues, caffeine and alcohol can contribute to the burden placed on the body each day especially if our nutritional needs are not being met.

HCB2 loves quality fat! Previously, we wrote about the importance of fat. Saturated fats are an important nutrient to our cell structure, and fats have been shown in the research to support cardiovascular health, good (HDL) cholesterol, and weight management. Additionally, quality fats have be shown to be protective against cancer and some of the side effects of cancer treatment.

At first glance, the HCB2 anti-inflammatory grocery list may seem a bit restrictive. With the help of Dr. Hurt and current research, we selected those nutrients which help to create a bodily environment where cancer is challenged to survive. It’s time to get creative because there are so many foods one can incorporate into each meal. Remove the stress about daily food choices by opening your mind to new ideas. For example, crack an egg into a pan of coconut oil, add some organic spinach, and unrefined sea salt (not table salt) to taste. Remove from pan and plate along side 1/2 avocado. The fat and protein will stay with you for hours so you will not be crashing prior to lunch, plus your brain, muscles, and cells will love it!

To sum up with some easy to remember tips! Fight Right with real food. Enjoy all the colors of the rainbow represented in a wide array of vegetables. Quality fats are not your enemy, and a hydrated body can prevent many problems. We hope you check out the HCB2 anti-inflammatory grocery list and select a few new items to place in your cart next time you visit the grocery store!

Fight Right Nutrition: Bone Broth

Our Healing Belly Baskets for cancer patients and survivors includes nutrient dense foods that may help to reduce inflammation in the body. These baskets include bone broth, which is full of proteins and minerals that support gut health and overall body function. We all require certain nutrients to thrive and cancer patients and survivors are no exception to this rule! An estimated 1/3 of cancer deaths are caused by cachexia or muscle and tissue wasting (NCI). Easy to digest proteins, like those in bone broth, may help to shut down this wasting in cancer patients!

Bone broth is made from the bones of animals (e.g. cows, chickens, fish) and is typically cooked over low heat for several hours to extract the nutrients from the bones.  It can be bought online, in local stores and some restaurants, but it is also relatively inexpensive and easy to make at home. There are many free recipes available online and broth can be flavored in many ways to accommodate personal preferences.

One easy way to make bone broth is to take a whole chicken, seasoned with unrefined sea salt, and cook it in a crockpot for a few hours on high. When finished, debone the chicken and save the meat for lunch, dinner or other uses! Add the bones back to the liquid in the crockpot, cover bones with water, and add a couple of tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar (helps to pull the minerals and other nutrients from the bones). Let it simmer on low for about 24 hours. Once cooled, remove bones, strain the broth, go ahead and sip on it, or add to storage containers for later use.

We personally like to make small glass mason jars to store our bone broth in the freezer, so we can take out and drink or add to food when needed. You can also add broth to ice cube trays, freeze, pop out and store in containers in the freezer for later use as well! Some folks also like to use their Instant Pots (pressure cookers) to make bone broth in a shorter amount of time. Check out the recipe below to help get you started: http://ohlardy.com/chicken-bone-broth/.

Want more options for nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory foods? We developed our Fight Right Anti-Inflammatory grocery list for cancer patients, survivors and the general community. Download it here.

How to Change Your Thinking About Exercise

Exercise!  How does this word make you feel?  Energetic or apathetic?  For many of us, the thought of exercising brings up comments such as…”I wish I had time”, or “I can’t, I have bad knees, hips, feet, etc.” or “I really don’t enjoy it” or my favorite “I don’t like to sweat.”  What would happen if we changed our perception about exercise and thought  about exercise as a 30 minute detoxification experience?

At Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2) we bring up the subject of detoxification in our presentations because it’s a critical piece in achieving health and remaining well.  The lymphatic system is an important system involved in the bodily detoxification process. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system in the body which transports bacteria accumulated in the space between cells and collects waste and cellular debris from tissues.  Nodes in the neck, groin, and armpit help to collect the lymph which is fluid made up from plasma, proteins, foreign particles, and bacteria.

Why discuss the lymphatic system when we originally made a statement about exercise?  Well, the lymphatic system is dependent on muscle contraction and manual manipulation for the system to move!  That’s right, moving/exercising stimulates the lymphatic system.  If you don’t move, you may very well be marinating in your own cesspool of toxins….not good if we want to be well and stay well.

So, let’s think of exercise as a 30 minute detoxification session.  Let’s sweat knowing that you are helping your body to remove harmful invaders and substances that can create inflammation and harm cellular structure.  Finding ways to move each day for 30 minutes or more gives a large boost to our bodily detoxification system.  The body spends more energy in trying to detoxify the body then anything else.  It’s a 24/7 job, and we can either help by moving or hinder by remaining sedentary.

If you feel inspired, join us at the 2018 Boxer Brief 5K, Saturday, June 9th at Stony Point Fashion Park.  The 5K walk/run begins at 8:00am.  It’s an entertaining morning of music, costumes, speakers, prizes, and a kids’ .5 mile run!  The “Caped Colon Crusader” .5 mile run for children under the age of eight is a free activity that begins at 7:45am.  Children are encouraged to dress up in their favorite capes or create a cape for their activity.

Register Now