How to Enjoy a Happy and Stress-proof Holiday Season

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Stress_is-it-friday-yet-704781-mHoliday Season is approaching! Are you excited or stressed out? The primary cancer risk factors during holidays are stress and unhealthy diet. We have covered the diet factor in a number of previous blogs, and let’s focus on coping stress here.

Holiday realities

The holidays are both a wonderful and stressful time of the year. Besides the usual work load and family commitments, we have new functions or activities, as we rush around trying to meet looming deadlines. Parties and social events, holiday shopping, decorating, trips, holiday meals, going to the new movie releases, entertaining the guests, … see how much we try to cram into the festive season! It gives me a headache just naming all the things.

The key danger of stress

Now imagine doing all that. It’s certainly a recipe for stress. Holiday stress normally falls into categories of financial, physical, psychological/emotional drains. Stress has a negative effect on your health. This is not just a theory. Many studies have found key mechanistic evidence at the cellular level. Chronic stress and/or depression can increase the body production of cytokines, that is, immune-modulating substances. One of them is called interleukin-6 (IL-6). High serum levels of IL-6 have been linked to risks for several adverse conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, mental health complications, and some cancers.

The relationship between stress and cancer is complex. Many factors may come into play. However, research has demonstrated that stress factors (e.g., the death of a spouse, divorce, social isolation, and medical school examinations) alter some white blood cell functions and promote immune dysfunction.

Additionally, many people who are stressed end up eating, drinking and smoking more but exercising and sleeping less, which would certainly worsen negative consequences for our health. Taken together, stress reduction is of importance for many health reasons.

Anti-stress-1-183748-mWin control over stress with top 8 effective tips:

Since mental stress can translate into negative physical changes in the body, this year I challenge you to have a stress-proof holiday season, and let the joyful spirit of the season boost your immune system! Here is how you achieve that.

1.      Plan ahead based on PBS. The keywords are Prioritize, Be realistic, and Simplify (PBS).

2.      Take it easy. Make the holidays enjoyable rather than perfect. If a card cannot get to its destiny on time, give the person a surprise call on that holiday morning! If you don’t feel like cooking or baking, buy some packaged prepared meals as an alternative, or go without one or two “traditions”. Instead of spending hours in the malls or sitting in the traffic, shop online for gifts to save time and get good deals.

3.      Tap the resources within your family, from neighbors and friends. Do what you enjoy, and make it fun for everyone. If you love decorating trees but hate shopping or dishwashing, trade chores within the family, so everyone picks up their favorite task.

4.      Create a budget within your means to avoid “New Year Depression” on debt. Folk wisdom tells us to shop ahead of time for bargains. However, we all can be creative and spend less, believe it or not. If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy expensive gifts, buy a small one. Everyone appreciates a gift regardless of its size. If it’s too costly to attend a fancy party, organize a new, fun activity to celebrate at home or go to a movie.

5.      Listen to your body and take care of it. If you are tired, acknowledge it; if you need a treat or massage, get it; and if exercises or physical activities make you feel good, go for it.  Also, be sure to get enough sleep.

6.      Practice stress-relieving techniques, particularly those that work for you. Breathe deeply, meditate freely, visualize a peaceful scene, or listen to soothing music. Enjoy some quiet time or “down” time for yourself, especially when you feel over-stressed or under uncomfortable conditions. Caution! Just because the letters in desserts can be used to spell stressed, it doesn’t mean you need to relieve stress with desserts. Avoid over-eating, particularly high sugar and/or high calorie foods.

7.      Laugh, laugh, and laugh! Laughter is an effective medicine.

8.     The holiday season is a time of Family, Friends and Fun! This is perhaps the most important tip of all! Connecting with others for laughter or fun, and love is the best stress-reliever as well as the most effective immune-booster. Please remember, for some, this is a time of loneliness and depression. Invite them to your home; show kindness to them. If you are alone during the holidays, reaching out to help others can benefit your own physical and psychological well-being.

If you like this post, please share it.  Sharing is caring and giving.

Image credit: by brainloc and Allyson

Health: It’s What We Are Most Grateful for Though Often Taken for Granted

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Gratitud for Health_CPDThe annual holiday season is approaching us. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, despite all there is to do to prepare for family festive activities. Yet many people stress out during the holiday season because they focus on what they don’t have or negativities.

But it is much wiser to be thankful.

Have you pondered for a few minutes what you are most grateful for?

I am grateful for many things in my life. One very important thing is my health. Without it, I don’t know if I would enjoy much of anything, even my time with my family and my energy for helping others. Here I share several ways I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for each breath because it’s a gift of life.

I’m grateful for the oxygen I inhale because it’s a feeder/supporter of life.

I’m grateful for the carbon dioxide I exhale because it takes with it anxiety, frustration, and negativity.

I’m grateful for each step I take and each move I make because they are signs of my physical vitality.

I’m grateful for my heart and immune functions because they fight off illnesses from cold or flu to heart disease and cancer.

I’m grateful for my normal aging because I gain more wisdom over the years.

I’m grateful for my laughter because the sound helps lighten stress and bring bliss

I’m also grateful for being able to feel pain because pain could be my body’s alarm about a health concern, as well as an experience shared with many who are suffering.

The list can go on and on…

In reality, feeling and expressing gratitude can foster your happiness and boost your health. So, let your heart and days be filled with the spirit of the season—joy, peace, love, giving, harmony, and gratitude.

Let us spread the spirit of the Holidays!

 

Stay Up-to-date on Lung Cancer Awareness

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Lung cartoon_lung-mdLung cancer is the top cancer killer in the United States and worldwide. Annually, 160,000 Americans die of lung cancer. Globally, about 1.4 million people die from this devastating disease each year.

Researchers predict that lung cancer will continue to be the biggest cancer killer over the next 30 years. The main reason for the increase will be longer life spans—the older you are, the higher your risk of cancer, including lung cancer.

Lung cancer occurs when a lung cell’s gene mutation makes the cell unable to correct DNA damage and unable to undergo programmatic cell death; instead, the abnormal cell continues to grow and divide out of control.

Gene mutations can occur due to a variety of reasons. Most lung cancers are the result of inhaling carcinogenic substances.

Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA and promoting cancer. Examples of carcinogens include, but aren’t limited to, tobacco, asbestos, arsenic, radiation such as x-rays, the sun, toxic chemicals in our household products, and compounds in car exhaust fumes. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed, which then damage our cells and affect their ability to function and divide normally.

Tobacco smoking is a well-known leading cause of lung cancer. About 87% of lung cancers are caused by smoking and inhaling the carcinogens from tobacco smoke. Lung cancer risk for a regular smoker is dramatically higher. This also warns us, especially non-smokers, of a health threat, because exposure to second-hand smoke can damage cells and lead to the development of cancer.

To prevent lung cancer, two main rules are to quit smoking if you smoke and avoid passive smoking. These are in your power. They are the most important preventive measures anybody can take.

Lung cancer takes several years to reach a level where symptoms show and the sufferer decides to seek medical help. Although approved screening tests for lung cancer do not exist currently, I have put together a picture of how new technologies are offering hope to fight lung cancer.

Possible lung cancer screening tests include:

  •   analysis of sputum cells
  •   fiber-optic examination of bronchial passages (bronchoscopy)
  •   low-dose CT scans, which have proven effective in screening for lung cancer in high-risk populations.

Other work in progress includes:

  •   detection of circulating cancer cells (identified as “sentinel” cells) by blood test, making early detection and intervention possible.
  •   a breathalyser device that will be able to detect very early signs of cancer, intended to catch patients before they start getting symptoms.
  •   A highly sensitive technology using blood plasma samples that can detect elevated levels of a specific molecule (microRNA molecule) in people with lung cancer through a nanopore sensor.

Furthermore, lung cancer may modify metabolic processes. Research findings reveal that 149 out of 534 metabolites showed significant changes in lung cancer patients. This means that a metabolic profile provides the potential to develop a diagnostic test for lung cancer. Collectively, all of the above approaches to screening will help reduce the enormous burden of lung cancer mortality.

In summary, sad figures, hard facts, key measures, and real hope are all worth reflecting on during Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

 

Image credit: By David Petrovay

Foods to Stop Abdominal Obesity and Inflammation

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Big Belly-and-diet-1349596-mAre you a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man with a waist of over 40 inches?

If so, you need to keep reading and engaging in this topic. There is an increasing concern about abdominal obesity, which has been identified as a risk factor of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

How bad is it?

Abdominal obesity, so-called “big tummy”, is the accumulation of excess intra-abdominal fat tissue, which promotes the release of inflammation-causing chemicals and subsequently causes inflammation. On top of that, chronic inflammation is harmful to your body and a root for many chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. So, “big tummy” should not be taken lightly.

Several factors might contribute to increased abdominal fat, including sex hormones, growth hormone, and local production of cortisol, a “stress hormone”. Dietary fructose is involved too. So, you cannot shrink your waist size overnight, and there is no a magic pill for it. However, you can simply start with modifying your diet.

How can you do it?

Is there any food that can improve your belly towards a healthy, active anti-inflammatory way? Yes. Here are the topmost eight approaches you can focus on:

1.      Oily fish: salmon or tuna

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, are not only good proteins but high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. To rip most benefits, eat these fish a few times a week, and cook them in healthy ways, such as grilled or baked, not deep fried, dried or salted.

2.      Healthy fats: olive oil and avocado

Let’s face it. Fat adds delicious taste, but not all fats are created equal. So, sprinkle olive oil and avocado over your salad, or mix them with your dishes.

 3.      High fiber foods: whole grain, oatmeal

A diet study on nearly 90,000 people in 2010 found that those consuming at least 10 grams of fiber daily (especially the kind in whole grains) had waists about three inches smaller than those eating very little fiber.

4.      Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C and lycopene, known to reduce inflammation throughout the body, along with supporting the immune system. Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones, so does tomato sauce.

5.      Kale and other green leafy vegetables.

Kale is one of the stars among green leafy veggies, which can make up key components in an anti-inflammatory diet. More than forty-five individual flavonoid antioxidants have been identified in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol. Quercetin has been shown to possess a strong anti-inflammatory property. Moreover, kale facilitates the body’s detoxification processes, which are crucial in flushing out inflammatory substances, such as those built up from processed foods.

6.      Nuts and nuts-based fiber bars

Nuts such as almonds and walnuts, are wonderful snacks, and a great source of inflammation-fighting fats and antioxidants. There are so many good things about them — rich in fiber, calcium, vitamin E, and alpha-linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fat).

7.      Low-fructose food: lemon, prune, and cranberries

These fruits contain little fructose. Research findings demonstrate that reduction in fructose improves several risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. In addition, low-fructose diet may be an effective intervention in cancer development.

8.      Spice like garlic, ginger and onions

Garlic and ginger have been used since ancient times, as powerful punches to combat inflammation. Garlic can help ward off a range of chronic illnesses, attributing to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory nature. Ginger is rich in antioxidants too. Onions are loaded with antioxidants, particularly quercetin. Many people tend to ignore them, but these foods do add an appreciable taste to your dishes.

Overall, diet can play an important role in lowering the risk of various cancers, and in reducing the hazard of chronic inflammation. A diet with the above beneficial foods helps shrink your waist size; in the long run, it can boost your anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer force.

What else can you do to speed up the progress?

Regular exercises, drinking more water or tea instead of coca and sweet beverages, reducing stress level, and a good night sleep as well, can all add up to burn your abdominal fat.

 

Image credit: By julosstock

Daily Risks for Breast Cancer: Everybody Can Do Something

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Pink_breast cancer awareWhat do you do in Breast Cancer Awareness Month? What do you do in a year for breast cancer prevention?

Unless you have a well-defined plan, here is food for thought.

In addition to wearing pink or a pink ribbon, campaigning to raise funds and getting a mammogram, there are essential things that everybody can do in this month and year round.

Why everybody? Because both men and women can get breast cancer, and because you care about your loved ones.

First of all, the key to fighting breast cancer is to catch it early. The cancer is most treatable at an early stage.

Then the best cure is prevention. Surely, you cannot control certain risk factors such as family history and/or genetics. However, do you know – about 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer? This means that DNA mutation can occur over one’s lifetime, and that’s why lowering your risk for breast cancer is critical.

So what are five most common daily risks for breast cancer?

  1. Smoke
  2. Alcohol
  3. Junk foods (processed foods, food low in nutrients but high in fat, sugar and salt)
  4. Physical inactivity
  5. Environmental pollutants and toxins

Everybody can relate to these health hazards, right? Be aware, some of them are hidden. Of course, there are other risk factors for breast cancer, including hormone therapy, radiation exposure, aging, and sleeping pattern (night shift).

I want to stress that it’s not one single factor that plays a measurable role in causing any cancer. Multiple or combined factors contribute to the development of breast cancer. For instance, when combined with genetic factors, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking enhance a risk for breast cancer and several other cancers as well. Furthermore, each cancer is different; no two people have the exactly same cancer.

Next, how to reduce breast cancer risk?

Breast cancer prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle, such as stopping tobacco use, limiting alcohol consumption, getting a nutritious diet, staying physically active, keeping a healthy weight, and avoiding environmental toxins if you can.

Lifestyle modification is often most effective and goes a long way. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Live a healthy lifestyle by starting with small, simple steps on a daily basis. Just consider food. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially a low-fat diet have been shown to offer protection from breast cancer. Plus, eating healthy can help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk for several other types of cancer.

Regular physical activities also offer you some protection. Research has demonstrated that women who exercised vigorously or moderately were significantly less risky to get breast cancer compared with non-exercisers.

In summary, focus on what you can do to lower your cancer risk. If you’re at an increased risk, breast cancer can be closely monitored with advanced technology and with help of your physician(s).

 

How to Prevent Childhood Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Yellow ribbon_Childhood cancerApproximately 15,700 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Among them, an estimated 1,960 deaths are expected. Are you aware of these sober statistics?

Losing a child to cancer is unthinkable pain and despair to all parents, which is why we call to prevent the worst loss, and why this post will focus on education. I will help you understand potential risk factors and powerful strategic actions to prevent childhood cancer. Let’s dive right into it.

Characteristics of childhood cancers

The types of cancer that develop in children and adolescents differ from those that occur in adults. Cancers of lung, colon, breast, prostate and skin affect most American adults. However, the most common types of childhood cancer are leukemia, tumors of brain and central nervous system, and lymphoma. Some cancers from embryonic cells and/or in developing organs include neuroblastoma (peripheral nervous system), medulloblastoma (brain), nephroblastoma or wilms tumor (kidney), and retinoblastoma (retina of the eye), which are rarely seen in adults. Also, incidences of these childhood cancers vary by age.

What causes childhood cancer remains unclear. Different cancers have different risk factors. Again, unlike many cancers of adults, lifestyle-related risk factors (such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diet, etc.) do not play a significant role in a child’s risk of getting cancer. On the other hand, most childhood cancers result from inherited gene mutation or environmental factors or both, based on current research findings.

So, am I suggesting that we cannot do anything to prevent childhood cancer? No.

Strategies you can use and actions you can take

1.      Detect cancer early by genetic testing.

DNA makes up our genes and certainly influences our risks for developing certain diseases including cancer. A child may inherit DNA mutations from a parent that can increase his/her risk of cancer. The DNA changes are present in every cells of the child’s body, and the changes can be identified by testing the DNA of blood cells or other cells from the body. Genetic consulting is constructive for someone with a history of familial cancers.

2.      Delay the time for kids to use cell phone or mobile devices.

Brain tumor is the leading cause of cancer death in children. Radiation is a potential childhood cancer risk factor. There is growing evidence that it is associated with brain tumors, particularly because of the thinner skulls, still developing nervous system and brain of children. So be aware of electromagnetic fields and ionizing radiation. Don’t allow kids to use mobile phones, at least delay the time they start using it and limit the time they use it too.

3.      Avoid or limit environmental toxins in daily life.

I understand that it’s virtually impossible to escape environmental pollutants and toxic chemicals entirely nowadays. Environmental toxins are probably the most invasive and cumulative bombardment to a child’s early development and, of course, the threat to their health. Unquestionably, you can make every effort or make simple lifestyle choices to avoid your exposure to the following everyday toxins:

  • Heavy metals – found in mercury fillings, treated woods, vaccines, and factory farmed fish, sometimes in water
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – found in factory farmed fish
  • Asbestos – found in many building materials made before the mid to late 1970s
  • Dioxins – found in the fat of factory farmed animals
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – found in cosmetics, dry cleaned clothes, air fresheners, deodorants, paints and bug repellents
  • Passive smoking – A cigarette releases more than 7000 chemicals including carcinogens. Tobacco products damage almost every organ in the body, from mouth, eyes, lungs, guts, reproductive organs to bladder and bones.

4.      Avoid or minimize pesticides use at home. 

Exposure to pesticide is perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of environmental risk. The contribution of environmental risk factors in the context of genetic predisposition has been reported with inconsistent results. However, one human study showed an increased risk of leukemia in children whose mothers were working in agriculture and exposed to pesticides during pregnancy.

Pesticides can be found in various areas in a household, from garden sprays, bug repellents, head lice shampoos and flea sprays on your animals, to non-organic fruits and vegetables as well as factory farmed meats.

5.      Grow your own toxin-free vegetables or go organic.

You will get more vitamins, more minerals and more micro-nutrients and zero or less pesticides. One more bonus – it keeps you stay physically active.

6.      Quit smoking, esp. during pregnancy.

Tobacco smoking contains seventy known carcinogens and causes various types of cancer in adults. Do you want to take the risk of releasing cancer-causing substances into the blood stream that may travel to your baby’s body?

7.      Live a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle factors usually take many years to influence cancer risk, but it’s never too late to develop it. Eat plenty of nutrient-rich, antioxidant-rich foods, engage in physical activities, keep a positive attitude, and maintain a healthy weight. Living a healthy lifestyle can benefit not only yourself, your children’s health but also the future generations to come.

If you think this post is helpful, please share. Thanks.

Wellness & Fun Tips for End of the Summer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

kids-chase-a-bubble-at-a-family-picnic-397582-mLabor Day can really make you feel like the end of the summer. As you know, after this weekend various popular summertime attractions will close, including pools. For some people, summer is a relaxing break from work and a happy time with their families. For others, they may have struggled with hectic schedules and unusual stressful workloads.

From a health and wellness perspective, how can you take advantage of Labor Day weekend to relax, renew and recharge? I’ll offer these cancer prevention strategies and tips as a farewell to summer:

  1. Go to book or music festivals, food and wine festivals, as well as an outdoor event in town. It can relax your mind, foster your joy, and promote your fitness as you walk and move around.
  2. Enjoy healthy meals and family picnics. This is the time when you can pack some antioxidant-rich foods, try out some healthy recipes, cook and share delicious food with your family and friends.
  3. Have a fun for fitness. Have you heard anything like Family Backyard Triathlon? What a creative idea and a marvelous way to get everyone move more! Certainly, you can do it at a local park too. Whether it’s a jump rope, push-ups, run or holding a yoga pose, these challenges are more beneficial than TV and internet times. Also pleasurable are team sports.
  4. Head for the beach or lake. In addition to those on the road trip already, if you live nearby the beach, there is always something for everybody, for a family fun activity. Yet again, be mindful for sun safe and sun protection.
  5. Practice your well-deserved stress-relieve treatment. This long weekend is a great opportunity to de-stress, hence to strengthen your immune function. Enjoy a peaceful time for yourself, a treat, a walk, or anyway that works for you.

Whatever you do, wish you the most happy, healthy, and adventurous Labor Day Holiday ever!

 

Image credit: by hortongrou

Eat Broccoli for Protection from Carcinogens and Air Pollutants

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Broccoli n Green handsI like this quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson – “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” The wisdom applies not only to our life, but also to human health and earth health.

Today, let’s have a talk on broccoli, particularly what’s new and the long-term benefits from it.

A compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties in many studies previously. Research indicates the chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic potential of sulforaphane in solid tumors and possibly in blood cancer, based on its anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities.

Recently, researchers have discovered that the same compound contained in broccoli also helps our bodies naturally remove carcinogens and some toxins present in heavily polluted air. These environmental toxins include benzene, a known carcinogen; and acrolein, a lung irritant. The clinical study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research in June.

Let’s think about it. Is this a better and safer way for our humans to reduce health risks from air pollution? Certainly is, especially without drugs or chemicals. In this way, a natural product helps the body defend unavoidable environmental pollutants. Again, it proves that food is the best medicine!

As you may know, benefits of broccoli extends to various health issues such as preventing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, allergies, osteoarthritis, and some ulcers as well as skin damage by UV radiation (effective when applied topically). Needless to say, how easily it can be done when integrating broccoli into daily diet, right? You can eat in raw (e.g. salads) or in cooked dishes after steaming, boiling, or quick-frying, etc. You can also mix it to veggie juice or smoothies.

The bottom line is – Eating more broccolis can go a long way towards enhancing your nutritional status as well as protecting you from environmental pollutants, cancer and some chronic illnesses.

Reference: Egner PA, Chen JG, Zarth AT, Ng D, Wang J, Kensler KH, Jacobson LP, Munoz A, Johnson JL, Groopman JD, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Zhu J, Chen TY, Qian GS, Carmella SG, Hecht SS, Kensler TW. Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China. Cancer Prevention Research, 2014.

 

Image credit: by lockstockb, Avolore

Strategies and Tips for Healthy Dishes for Hot Summer Days

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

green and red healthy foodImagine that on a hot summer evening you just came back from work and you want to avoid staying around the stove to cook a family dinner. As you know, fast food or a colorful meal-in-box is not always healthy, and dining at restaurants can be costly. Let’s say that going out is not an option. So how do you fix the dinner quickly?

Yes, dinner planning during the summer is a challenge. But we have to eat, right? That’s why I want to provide some solutions for hot weather, weird schedules, busy days, tired cooks, or a lack of cooking magic.

Here are the top FIVE principles to help you make a hot summer day dinner easy and healthy:

1. Plan ahead strategically.

-          Bake and Freeze: When you bake some foods during the weekend, it makes your week-day dinner easier and less time-consuming to prepare.

-          Cook and fridge: for example, hard-boiled eggs and chicken slices/cubes can be done in advance.

-          Have a theme or a focus. We can develop a cycle by rotating dishes without repeating the same meal two days in the row. For example, we could have a theme like chicken-veggie pasta for Monday, tuna fish salad for Tuesday, veggie and ravioli on Wednesday, shrimp-veggie pasta for Thurs, pizza for Friday, Salmon, veggie and brown rice for Saturday, and veggie/tofu for Sunday, but without being strictly tied to the same order each week. It actually make meals diverse and less boring; and when you get used to it, you don’t need to think too hard about what to have for dinner.

2. Make it easy.

Buy some fresh or semi-cooked dishes during your grocery shopping, then you just warm the dish and eat. Another idea is to stock some fresh baby carrots, chopped celery, lettuce, tomatoes, blueberries or grapes, or some veggie wraps and potato salad, in your refrigerator, and then you can have a ready-meal or no-cook dinner. Fresh, light and simple foods also calm your mind!

3. Ensure it’s fresh and healthy with cancer prevention in mind.

Healthy and delicious dishes don’t need to be complicated. On hot summer days, cool, light, fresh dishes are recommended. Eat something light with green-leafy veggies or watermelon—sweet and super hydrating—and limit greasy and deep-fried dishes. Remember to drink a lot of water or other fluids!

4. Exercise creativity and have fun!

I used to take my lunch to work in this way, i.e. in a “create your own dish” fashion. Prepare all veggies, fruits, nuts, meats, and dressings by setting them out just like a salad bar, then everyone can take whatever they like to have a “rainbow” on the plate. Alternatively, for a family dinner, put together the foods you have—from whole wheat bread to fish or chicken, from veggies to a fruit cake, then you can have a “Cancer Prevention Picnic” in your back yard while watching the sunset!

5. Make it quick.

When you follow the tips and ideas mentioned above, your dinner will be ultimately a quick-fix.

Follow these solutions and your meals prep should be less stressful, less troublesome, and take less time. A bonus is that you and your family will have healthier dishes and that’s reason to be happier too!

 

7 Natural Nutrients and Powerful Antioxidants for UV Protection

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Fruits-Veggies_4566Have you ever gone for grocery shopping, wondering how to take advantage of natural foods for your UV protection? Or you might be just thinking loud “Help me – Help me with a shopping list for natural resources of antioxidants that fight UV and Sun damage!

Hey, this is a health-smart idea or initiative. After all, UV radiation causes DNA damage leading to skin aging and skin cancers. Although the skin holds many protective mechanisms against UV damage, the combination of accumulated exposure and UV-induced immunosuppression can overwhelm the skin’s natural defense. There are a myriad of natural resources for your protection.

To combat UV’s harmful effects and strengthen your skin defense, I’m going to put seven types of super foods and nutrients on the spotlight in this post, and talk about how they provide UV protection.

1.      Carotenoids

Carotenoids micronutrients can scavenge free radicals that cause DNA damage to skin, and protect skin injury and/or problems resulting from sun damage and UV radiation. In general, colorful veggies and fruits with bright natural pigments are signals of carotenoids-rich foods, such as carrots, red, yellow or orange peppers, and oranges.

2.      Lycopene

Tomatoes are lycopene-rich super food; and lycopene can neutralize the harmful effects of UV light by scavenging skin-damaging free radicals. Additionally, tomatoes also contain beta-carotene and vitamin C. In the summer, as well as in all seasons, it is so easy and refreshing to include tomatoes in virtually any dishes from salad to pizza and side dish. Grape/Cherry tomatoes can be excellent snacks!

3.      Resveratrol

Resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-viral properties. It also exerts cardioprotective, neuroprotective and analgestic actions. Research shows that resveratrol can regulate cellular activities in response to radiation and thus minimize UV radiation-initiated damage. Furthermore, resveratrol can neutralize free radicals generated from UV rays and counteract their harmful effects. Grapes are an superb source of resveratrol. Other foods containing resveratrol include wine, grape juice, cranberries, cranberry juice, and peanuts.

4.      Flavonoids

Dark chocolate is a wonderful source of flavonoids, which is well known for the protective benefits of the heart and blood vessels. Interestingly, research also suggests that dark chocolate protects the skin from sun damage. So, give yourself a treat or an excuse to consume it regularly, but not excessively. In addition, flavonoids-rich natural cocoa butter helps preserve skin’s elasticity and moisture.

5.      Green tea

Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, which have protective effect on UV-induced skin inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage. Green tea is also rich in catechins, which are known to have extremely powerful antioxidant properties. A cup of iced green tea in hot summer days serves as not only a beverage to ensure adequate hydration and promote youthful skin, but also a guard to prevent UV-induced DNA damage and reduce skin cancer risk. Green tea can be a great substitute for Coke or other sugar-packed soft drinks.

6.      Salmon

We all know that salmon provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, do you know that salmon helps build your skin defense? Research shows that Omega-3 essential fatty acids may protect skin damage and premature aging from UV radiation, this is because salmon also contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that can scavenge free radicals produced from the skin after sun or UV exposure. Additionally, astaxanthin helps alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with sunburn.

7.      Greens

Go greens! And you’ll never go wrong. Green leafy veggies are delicious, nutritious, and they help protect your skin damage from sun and UV radiation. Greens are the great sources of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C and E – a full spectrum of carotenoids micronutrients and vitamins.

Certainly, dietary intake of antioxidants in terms of UV protection is considerably slower than topical application achieved by using sunscreens. However, an optimal supply of natural antioxidant micronutrients in the skin can enhance skin antioxidant defense against UV radiation damage, support your long-term wellbeing, and maintain your skin health and glowing appearance.

I hope that today’s grocery checklist is valuable for your UV protection and particularly beneficial for people at the greatest risk of skin cancer and other cancers as well.

 

Image credit: by Fruits-Veggies_4566