Top 3 Things You Can Do To Prevent Breast Cancer

Top 3 Things You Can Do To Prevent Breast Cancer

We are all told the basics of eating a diet rich in vegetables, high in fiber, limiting fat, and even eating soy which remains controversial (another blog in of itself).  And, of course, limit alcohol and maintain a healthy weight.

Yet, despite these recommendations we will see breast cancer rates increase by 50% by 2030 and 80% will have no family history according to Phillip S. Rosenberg, PhD, Cancer epidemiology & genetics Biostatistics Branch of the NCI!

So, what can YOU do to prevent breast cancer?

I will cut to the chase for those who have short attention spans – nutrigenomics testing, ditch the chemicals, and the Mediterranean diet.  All three involve and promote a healthy hormonal balance, the metabolism, and the detoxification of estrogen.

  • Nutrigenomics testing will identify your TRUE risk for breast or how you can truly prevent a recurrence by promoting positive gene response and healthy detoxification.
  • Ditching the chemicals that promote hormonal imbalances is also key as we now know that are many chemicals that women are more often exposed to that can promote unhealthy estrogen levels.
  • Why the Mediterranean Diet – this diet which is predominantly plant-based with healthy sources of animal protein is also full of healthy fats, fiber and recommends a huge variety and color in vegetables.

Nutrigenomics Food Can Affect Your Gene Response

What is the Role of Nutrigenomics and Breast Cancer

Most of the nutrigenomics SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) or slight genomic variants involved in breast cancer are involved in the two-phase process of the liver detoxification system.

For instance, the SNP known as CYP1B1 is involved in the process of breaking down estradiol into certain compounds; a variant in this SNP will promote estradiol into 4-OH over the preferred compound known as 2-OH.  The compounds are known as 4-OH and 16-OH (see Estrogen Metabolism Nutrients) are implicated in breast cancer.

What if you knew you had this SNP?

What could you do?  By increasing your diet in crucifers (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), berries, and yes, flaxseed you can promote healthy gene response.  And, you would know that you would need to avoid chemicals polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found highest industrial seed oils and GMO grains and PCB’s.

What About Maintaining a Healthy Weight?

It is important to maintain a healthy weight not just for cancer, but overall health.  But, when it comes to cancer, being overweight especially with abdominal obesity (carry weight in your tummy), you greatly increase your risk of cancer.  This is because we know that insulin resistance is a key player in the role of cancer.  If you are carrying most of your weight in your tummy, that is a sure sign you have insulin resistance.

Abdominal obesity leads to hormone imbalances as this type of fat actually produces estrogen, especially in postmenopausal women.    This is where nutrigenomics comes in again – using nutrigenomics testing you can find out why you are struggling with your weight by looking at those genes that promote metabolic syndrome.  You can finally give up the guessing game as to what diet plan will work for you.

Natural Skincare Cosmetics

Ditch the Chemicals to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Ditching the chemicals that promote hormonal imbalances.  The typical women put on over 15 different products before she walks out the door.  Many of these cosmetics, personal care, and skincare products contain known hormone disruptors and have been implicated in breast and uterine cancers.  That is one of the reasons I partnered with BeautyCounter – safer, cleaner, and better beauty products.  And, they continue to fight to protect women from harmful chemicals.

And, there are plastics that contain BPA – a known carcinogen yet we still drink water out of plastic bottles, use personal care products that are in containers with BPA, and heat foods in plastic. These chemicals are also known as “obesogens” promoting an unhealthy weight that also leads to estrogen imbalances.

Start avoiding these chemicals by looking for the top offenders – parabens and phthalates which are used often as preservatives so will be at the end of the ingredient list.  Phthalates can be hidden using the term “parfum” or “fragrance”.  Many environmental chemicals like glyphosate or Round Up, PCB’s and PAH’s are so pervasive in our environment, it has become more and more important to support healthy detoxification through nutrition and avoidance of chemicals where we can.

Mediterrean Diet Breast Cancer

How Does the Mediterranean Diet Help to Prevent Breast Cancer

This diet is predominantly plant-based emphasizing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  It is also not what I call a “reductionist” diet – where you have greatly reduced or eliminated a food group like gluten or fat.

Research shows that most if not all “reductionist” diet plan fail to provide adequate nutrition or even meet the minimum required recommended daily allowance (RDA).

The Mediterranean Diet is also rich healthy grains (yes, gluten grains like Kamut), seeds, nuts, and healthy fats from olive oil and cold-water fish.  What is best about this diet or cuisine is that it also incorporates spices, herbs, and greens we normally do not eat.

And, it is certainly not low fat.  Many sites recommend a low-fat diet without making the distinction between healthy fats and bad fats.  Again, a reductionist diet!  This was based on very poorly done studies and to me is one of the worse recommendations for hormone balance.  I know first hand what happens to a woman’s body on a low-fat diet – hormonal imbalance especially estrogen dominance which is highly implicated in breast cancer.

As we learn more and more about nutrigenomics and it's a role we can start to truly prevent breast cancer rather than waiting for our mammogram to detect if we have cancer when it many times it too late.  As find out more and more about genes and genomics we will beat the battle of cancer – what we are currently doing is simply not sustainable or really winning the battle.

Want to learn more about nutrigenomics?  Book your free genomic Consult Today!

Is Too Much Iron Making You Fat, Fatigued and Depressed?

Is Too Much Iron Making You Fat, Fatigued and Depressed?

How Can Too Much Iron Make You Fat, Fatigued?

When I think of iron, the first thing that comes to my mind is iron anemia (not enough iron) which is a major cause of feeling fatigued, unexplained weight gain, and depression.

Signs that You Have Too Much Iron

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Weight Gain – Especially in the Tummy
  • High Blood Sugar or Insulin Resistance
  • High Cholesterol – LDL
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Joint Pain
  • Liver Disease
  • Poor Immune Function

Too much iron leads to these symptoms as it can act as a toxin.  Some of the key nutrients like arsenic are needed in small amounts but too much can be toxic.  Our bodies help to maintain healthy levels of certain nutrients, metals, and other compounds through regulatory proteins.  For iron, the hormone known as hepcidin regulates how much iron we actually absorb from our food.

How is Iron Metabolized in Our Bodies

Iron is absorbed and metabolized through a very complicated process that depends on regulatory proteins.  Hormones like hepcidin regulate how much iron you actually absorb from your food.  This starts with the digestion process in our stomach that breaks the iron molecule from the food that we eat.

Iron by itself or free iron is a very reactive mineral in our bodies so it is transported and stored in protein molecules like transferrin and ferritin protecting us from free iron causing oxidation or “rusting”.

This oxidation damages organ especially the liver and pancreas which leads to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, unexplained weight gain, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and extreme fatigue.  Over 2/3 of people with iron overload have diabetes.

What Are the Major Causes of Iron Overload?

The number one cause of iron overload has been found to be genetic mutations that run in certain populations like the Irish and Africans.  Besides genetic mutations, alcoholism is also a major cause of iron overload as alcohol increases iron absorption.

So how do you know if you have iron overload?

To determine if the iron is behaving badly for you, start by testing a full iron panel which is what I do for all my clients who are struggling with unexplained weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, and osteoporosis.

In most cases, iron overload in women will not occur until post-menopausal as the number one way to reduce iron stores is bleeding.  Without a monthly cycle, iron builds up and eventually leads to iron overload in women especially those who have genetic mutations.

Before you run off and donate blood which is about the only way to reduce iron stores – might be a good idea to make sure that you need to.

Also, offering genomic evaluations to determine if you have the genetic mutations involved with iron overload as well as mutations that in the nutrients like vitamin B6 that play major roles in the metabolism of iron.

Are Chemicals Making You Fat???

Are Chemicals Making You Fat???

Struggling to lose those 20 pounds?  Been eating “right” and just can’t seem to get rid of those extra pounds?  Could be chemicals known as obesogens that are commonly found in food, cosmetics, and personal care products.

Do Home Fragrances Contain “Obesogens”?  

And, those house fragrance products – you know the plugins and candles.  And yes, those auto spraying home fragrance products.  Who thought that one up??

Most obesogens are what are called endocrine disruptors.  Basically, they disrupt your metabolism hormones leading to weight gain especially in the tummy.  It is the chronic low-grade exposure over time that eventually imbalances your hormones that keep your body’s metabolism at its peak.

What Chemicals Can Make You Fat?

  • Pesticides, Insecticides, Herbicides – Most notably atrazine and glyphosate are known to have an impact on glucose metabolism – diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
  • Phthalates – Common plasticizers that are found in everything from designer handbags to home and personal care fragrance products. Difficult to find in the ingredients list as it commonly is hidden in the word “fragrance” and manufacturers do not have to list it.  The simple way to avoid – skip the commercial home fragrances, perfumes for better options using essential oils.
  • Parabens -Commonly found in food as a preservative with high levels found in maple syrup, muffin, iced tea, pudding, and turkey roast. Look for word paraben preceded by -methyl, butyl, and propyl to see if there are in your pantry.  This is also used in many cosmetics and personal care products like shampoo, conditioners, lotions, and even toothpaste.
  • Bisphenol (BPA) – Commonly found in plastics, canned foods, medical devices, and even cash register receipts. Plastic water bottles especially the “thin” plastic water bottles under certain conditions (high heat) leaks BPA into the water.

These are just a few of the chemicals that have linked to obesity and hormonal imbalances.  The list is growing as more and more evidence is showing that these chemicals actually disrupt the normal signaling pathways in weight management.

For some of us, these chemicals will have a bigger impact on weight management than others due to genomics or genetics.  For instance, those with SNP in the PPAR are going to be more affected by these chemicals as they have an impact on that metabolic pathway where PPAR is involved.  Want to learn more, please join my Nutrition Solutions Through Genomics Facebook page today! 

Reference:  Obesogens – An Environmental Link to Obesity, Environmental Health Perspectives – Vol. 120, Number 2, Feb. 2012

Genomic Counseling – What to Look For

Genomic Counseling – What to Look For

What is Genomic Counseling?

Genomic testing is different than genetic testing which is testing for what diseases that you might acquire like Parkinson's as well your ancestry.   In genomic testing, it looks at those misspellings referred to as SNP's that can lead to metabolic imbalances like diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, migraines, obesity, and even hormonal imbalances.  This is the field of nutrigenomics which includes genomics and epigenetics with a focus on nutrition and metabolism.

Are There Genes that Can Impact Your Nutritional Status?

These slight mutations affect our ability to absorb, metabolize, and utilize nutrients from your food.  They also impact your ability to make nutrients like vitamin D which has over 5 different mutations related to its metabolism.  Discovery of these mutations can explain why you might be low in these nutrients or are having the symptoms of nutritional deficiencies.  This nutrigenetics is also highly related to autoimmune conditions and usually, you will find that those who have autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and Hashimoto's, will have these slight mutations or SNP's.

Genomic counseling takes these tests results and combines them with your health goals and conditions bringing together a truly personalized approach taking into consideration both your SNP's and nutrition genetics.  With my clinical background, I also look at how your genomics has impacted your health through your lab work and may recommend lab work.  For instance, looking at high homocysteine which is a cardiovascular risk factor, we can determine just what is going array in this metabolic pathway by looking at your genomics.

What should you look for in a Genomic Counselor?

You finally took that step into genomics and had a test done which came back with a lovely report and a table of letters with an explanation of these SNP's which look like Dutch to you.  Most of the reports will focus on the basics and emphasize nutrients or some will try to sell supplements to you.  Be careful with testing companies that sell supplements with their reports as their reports do not take into consideration the complicated biochemical pathways that are involved and those supplements might actually make things worse for you.

Genomics and nutrigenomics is an extremely new science with just emerging educational and credentialing for counseling.  There are many different types of healthcare professionals including doctors, clinical nutritionists, and others that are researching this new science and counseling people on their genomics.  It is, however, a bit of the gold rush going on including many “counselors” and bloggers selling supplements and solutions to “heal your genes” without an educational background and using common misconceptions and misinformation on the internet as their training.  Misinformation on MTHFR is probably the most widespread and most bloggers without a biochemical background are not versed in the complete and complicated methylation pathway.

 What should you look for when hiring a genomic counselor especially for nutrigenomics? 

Start by making sure the counselor you hire has a background in biochemistry, nutrition (masters or higher), and has some educational background in genomics.  In addition to my masters in human nutrition, I have been studying this field for the last 3 years, taken courses in genomics including culinary genomics, and have just completed my certification in functional medicine nutrition which included course work in genomics most notably autism, GI health, MTHFR, food intolerances, neurotransmitter balance, autoimmunity, and metabolic health.  I have also taken course work from Dr. Ben Lynch.

There is much to learn from this new science and how it can be applied to healthcare so make sure to do your homework when choosing a counselor.  Without a comprehensive education in biochemistry and metabolic pathways, you could be greatly misinformed so make sure whomever you hire, you inquire about their education.