Colorectal Cancer: the more you know…

 
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The month of March is known as colorectal cancer awareness month. The goal is to raise awareness and talk about prevention. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths. Risk increases with age, therefore it’s important that men and women 50-75 years old are regularly screened. Those under 50 who feel they have an increased risk, should talk to their doctor about early screening. Many deaths resulting from colorectal cancer could have been prevented with regular screening.

What is colorectal cancer and what are the symptoms?

The colon is the large part of the intestine, the end of the digestive tract. A majority of colon cancer cases begin with noncancerous polyps in the colon. They can be in the colon for years before becoming cancerous. Screening can catch precancerous polyps and they can be removed before turning into cancer. In the early stages, colon cancer may present few to no symptoms at all. Possible symptoms include:

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⦁ Change in bowel habits

⦁ Rectal bleeding, or blood in stool

⦁ Unintentional weight loss

⦁ Persistent stomach pains, aches, or cramps

⦁ Weakness or fatigue

⦁ A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely

 

What are risk factors for colorectal cancer?

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⦁ 50 years and older

⦁ Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)

⦁ Family history of colorectal cancer

⦁ Low fiber/ high fat diet

⦁ Sedentary lifestyle

⦁ Diabetes

⦁ Obesity

⦁ Smoking

⦁ Excessive alcohol use

Is a colonoscopy the only way to be screened?

While colonoscopy is one way to be screened for colorectal cancer, there are other options as well. Talk to your doctor to decide which test is best for you.

⦁ Stool test- checks stool for blood or cancer cells.

⦁ Flexible sigmoidoscopy- checks for polyps/ cancer in the rectum and lower third of the colon.

⦁ Colonoscopy- checks for polyps/ cancer in rectum and entire colon.

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⦁ CT Colonography- a virtual colonoscopy that uses computers to produce images of the entire colon.

Finally, how can I lower my risk for colorectal cancer?

⦁ Cancer screening

⦁ Consume a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

⦁ Get plenty of physical activity

⦁ Maintain a healthy weight

⦁ Stop smoking

⦁ Drink alcohol in moderation

Spread the word about colorectal cancer to friends and family, not just during the month of March, but all year round! Encourage loved ones 50 years and older to get screened.

For more information check out:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669

Vitamins: Myth vs Fact

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Do you take a daily vitamin? If you have kids, do you give them a daily vitamin? Even your pets?  

The word vitamin is thrown around all the time, but just what are vitamins?!

They are a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition in the human body. There are two groups of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E, and K dissolve in fat. Since these vitamins are stored in the body, extremely large amounts of them can potentially be toxic. Water soluble vitamins on the other hand- B and C, dissolve in water and are excreted in urine, therefore aren’t stored in the body and the body needs B and C vitamins replenished each day.

Vitamins are a popular topic and surrounding the topic of vitamins are a lot of misconceptions!

Let’s tackle a few of the most popular ones:

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“I only need vitamins when I’m sick.”

Ever feel a cold coming on, get a stuffy nose, sore throat, feel miserable, and people say, “drink orange juice!” Why? Because it’s rich in vitamin C! While vitamins do help boost the immune system, especially vitamin C, it’s more important to regularly nourish your body with vitamins to strengthen the immune system rather than loading up on the vitamins trying to fight a virus off after it already hits!

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“The more the better.”

More is better, yes in some cases, not when it comes to vitamins though! The body only needs vitamins and minerals in small amounts, it’s not advantageous to take more than the recommended dose, in fact, it can even be harmful. Fat soluble vitamins for example, such as vitamin A, in large excess can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, even death in extreme cases. High amounts of vitamin D, another fat soluble vitamin, can lead to nausea, vomiting, constipation, and kidney damage. While yes, water soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, but megadoses can be harmful. Vitamin C for example, the recommended daily amount is 65-90 milligrams, the upper limit is 2,000 milligrams a day. A megadose of vitamin C can cause symptoms such as: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heart burn, abdominal cramps, headache, and insomnia.   

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“I get everything I need from food.”

If you eat a very healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, then yes you probably get a good number of essential vitamins and minerals. But, did you know that still a wide variety of these nutrients are hard to come by through modern diets alone? This is due to many environmental factors, not least of all is the nutrient depletion in today’s soil and water. In addition, the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis also attack our body’s nutrient supply. This has led to a wide variety of health deficiencies in which vitamin supplementation has been recommended. Also, a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter months. It is also worth noting that those following specific diets such as vegan or vegetarian, need to be sure they’re getting appropriate amounts of B12, D, along with omega’s, from sources other than meat, or consider taking a good vitamin.

It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting any new vitamins or supplements.

The Sweet Truth about Chocolate

Health Benefits of Chocolate

“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate is a salad.”

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That saying is true, technically, chocolate IS a plant. However, it doesn’t contain quite the same benefits as salad. It’s not typically low calorie like salad either (unfortunately). Believe it or not, chocolate does have some positive health benefits of its own!

The Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree mostly found in Africa, grows cacao pods. First, the pods are harvested which involved breaking them open to get the beans inside. Next, the beans are fermented, which changes them to a dark brown color. Finally, the beans are dried and then shipped to factories.

In the factory, the cacao beans are roasted at high temperatures then cracked open, which turns into cacao nibs. An edible form of chocolate, but super bitter! From there, the cacao nibs are crushed down into a thick paste and combined with cocoa butter, milk, vanilla, sugar, and soy lecithin. Finally, after running the chocolate mixture through a series of machines, heating it, cooling it, and melting it into molds, you have chocolate!

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Let’s back up to the cacao nibs. Organic, raw cacao is known as a superfood due to it being nutrient dense and rich in phytonutrients and flavonoids such as sulfur, magnesium, and phenylethylamine. This mood boosting superfood is known to improve focus and alertness. Consuming pure cacao can be a source of fiber and iron as well, promoting bowel regularity and preventing anemia. This is not true however with just any chocolate bar at the grocery store, only cacao nibs and pure cacao.

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Now, onto good ol’ chocolate. That delicious sweet, smooth, rich chocolate doesn’t only taste good, but in small amounts is also good for you! We aren’t talking about just any chocolate, we’re talking about dark chocolate- the higher the percentage the better. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that aid in protecting our bodies from disease and damage by neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants aren’t the only ones that deserve the spotlight in dark chocolate, flavonoids deserve it as well! Dark chocolate, rich with flavonoids, have been shown to improve heart health. Studies have shown that the consumption of flavonoid rich chocolate has a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, and circulation. (1)  

As always, consume dark chocolate in moderation along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. So next time you’re at the grocery store, find yourself some dark chocolate, and enjoy a sweet treat and positive health benefits as well!

             
             


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Psst…Speaking of those good for you flavonoids found in dark chocolate…resveratrol, the most studied flavonoid of all is now available in supplement form in a highly absorbable, concentrated form! Check out all the heart, brain and anti-aging benefits of Nature’s Edge ResveraGel™ HERE!

Autoimmune Diseases and Inflammation

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What is an autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune disease results when the immune system gets out of control and mistakes the body’s cells as foreign invaders, attacks them as it would a virus, and causes damage to healthy tissues. The job of the immune system is to protect you from disease and fight off infections, but when it starts attacking its own healthy cells it becomes a real problem. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have noticed that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and aren’t sure why. In particular: lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. Studies in the past have shown that factors such as environment and genetics play a role in autoimmune disease development. Our rapidly changing environment may be to blame for the increasing rates.

Who can develop an autoimmune disease?

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Anyone can develop an autoimmune disease at any time in their life. Genetics has been shown to play a role, therefore some people may be more prone to developing certain diseases than others. In other situations, a viral infection such as mononucleosis, may be enough to trigger the onset of an autoimmune disease.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and one variable that nearly all of them have in common is inflammation. Controlling inflammation is so important and aside from prescription medication, nutrition can play a huge role. Anti-inflammatory diets typically consist of fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), healthy fats (oils), fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (full of antioxidants). Foods to avoid include: processed foods, foods high in saturated fats and sugars.

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Studies have been done on meatless diets such as vegan and vegetarian, and the effectiveness in reducing inflammation, pain, and morning stiffness. In a small study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015, on a vegan diet, the C-reactive protein was greatly reduced in participants after only three weeks. In another study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, 53 participants followed a vegan diet for three and a half months. The participants experienced improvement in tender/ swollen joints, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to the control group. Even after a year, and transitioning to a lacto-vegetarian diet, they continued to see improvement in symptoms. One downfall to vegan and vegetarian diets are deficiencies in vitamins such as B-12, which is plentiful in meat. It’s important to mention to your doctor if you do decide to cut meat out entirely, so they can monitor your B-12 levels if needed.    

Supplementation:

So, you’re implementing an anti-inflammatory diet and want to add in something extra to fight inflammation, here are a few options!

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Boswellia

  • Supports joint health and mobility

  • Natural anti-inflammation support

  • Supports healthy immune function

  • Assists in curbing joint pain

  • Supports a stronger metabolism

Curcu-Gel® (curcumin)

  • Helps maintain healthy joints

  • Supports cardiovascular health

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Helps neutralize damaging free radicals

  • Assists the body's natural response to inflammation

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Omega-Gel® (fish oil)

  • Omega-3 from wild caught fish

  • Highly purified Omega-3*

  • High potency - 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA

  • Promotes heart health

  • Supports brain cell function

  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties

  • Assists healthy cholesterol levels

  • Promotes healthy immune function

 

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
— E.E. Cummings

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Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others and keeps you grounded, focused and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use.*

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells - improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against cardiovascular problems.

Laughter may help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.**

*Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Helpguide.org, Sept 2018.

**Cancer Treatment Centers of America® currently uses Laughter Therapy in their treatments.


LAUGHING IS CONTAGIOUS SO LET’S LAUGH MORE

  • Smile - smiling is the beginning of laughter.

  • Count your blessings - they will make you smile.

  • When you hear laughter, move towards it.

  • Spend time with fun, playful people.

  • Bring humor to conversations.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously - lighten up.


Scientifically Speaking…

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“Laughter therapy gives our body various physiological changes, and has an influence on the physical temperature, blood pressure, lung capacity, heart rate, muscles in the musculoskeletal system, and brain activity, so it can have an overall effect in promoting health (Hayashi et al. 2007; Bennett and Lengacher 2009). Mentally, laughter therapy helps reduce unpleasant feelings such as tension, anxiety, hatred, and anger, alleviates feelings of depression, aids better interpersonal relationships, and improves insomnia, memory failure, and dementia (Takeda et al. 2010; Bains et al. 2015) … Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Decreasing stress-making hormones found in the blood, laughter can mitigate the effects of stress (Farifteh et al. 2014) … Therefore, it is effective and scientifically supported as either a single or adjuvant therapy. - from Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review 


 
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Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
— Mark Twain