(www.BlackDoctor.org) -- When I wrote my book "WHOLE: 12 Principles for Rebuilding Life after Breast Cancer," I was intent on creating specific tools for sistah survivors on how to recover their health and maintain a wellness lifestyle.
Quickly, women who purchased "WHOLE" for their loved ones realized that we ALL need to adopt the self-care practices that sustain optimal health--not only breast cancer survivors.
Here are five easy WHOLE Body Living tips:
1. Think before you bite! My grandma Ellen always said, "You are what you eat!" We all have possibly heard that saying. But this pearl of wisdom is true! Far too many of us are living on fast foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and empty calories. STOP! Before you drive up to the take-out window, or indulge the food craving du jour, educate yourself about Cancer Fighting Nutrition. Visit WeSpeakLoudly to learn more about healthy eating. Click on the WHOLE Newsletter Archive. Each issue features delicious, cancer-fighting recipes and food tips. Another source we love for information about cancer-fighting foods is the American Institute for Cancer Research. Check them out!
2. Move your body! Exercise is an effective stress-reducer and weight-loss friend. Surprisingly, you don't have to become an Olympic athlete or professional sports woman to garner the benefits of becoming more active. If you are obese or overweight, losing just 10% of your current poundage is enough to start the protective forces of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and helping to excrete toxins from your body. Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise to help you get started. And now that the weather is cooling off, you can scope out warm, secure and free indoor options for exercise like your college sports facilities, and even shopping malls at off hours.
3. Check your Vitamin D levels. Recent research indicates that low Vitamin D levels can make a person more susceptible to cancer. This is especially true for African American women because our richly-colored skin makes it more difficult to absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Consider taking Vitamin D3 supplements--available in both pill and liquid form. Consult your doctor for proper dosage.
4. Conduct monthly Breast Self-Examination (BSE). Though in recent years (BSE) has fallen out of favor as a predictor of breast cancer, we still recommend it. BSE is still a very effective tool to help you learn about how your body feels--what's normal for you. Sensing or feeling subtle changes in breast tissue that might not be picked up on a mammogram could help catch breast cancer early. And we should teach our girls how to do BSE as they begin their menses so they can become comfortable with the practice of this healing touch. We've prepared a "How-to" fact sheet on breast self-exam that's only a click away!
5. Gather your family history. Genetics can play a large part in predicting your unique risk factors for breast cancer. Take time to contact eldest family members first and interview them about health conditions they and other kinfolk may have had. Granted they might not call an ailment by the name recognized by the medical establishment, but probe a little. For example, a family history of diabetes could have been called "Sugar." Hypertension could have been called "High Blood." Same with breast cancer. It wasn't often talked about, but with a little probing, you can find out if any female family members had mastectomies, or if people recollect a relative with swelling in their arm--a sign that lymphedema might have been present (sometimes a side effect of breast cancer surgery.) This information will be invaluable to share with your doctor when you have your annual clinical breast exam.
BDO (www.BlackDoctor.org ) is the World’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans.