October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and breast health is atop every woman's mind. No one wants to be diagnosed with this frightening disease, so it is crucial that you do all you can every day to ensure that you are as healthy as possible. Whether you're in your early adult years, child-bearing years, or menopausal and post-menopausal years, as women, we all want to be able to enjoy optimal breast health for our entire lives.
The things you do on a daily basis can affect the overall health of your breasts. Let's take a look at some simple changes you can make in your daily life:
- Manage stress. Physically caring for yourself comes naturally, but caring for your emotional health is something that we seem to forget about, although it's just as important. Reduce stress levels by meditating daily, practicing deep breathing exercises, doing yoga and taking supplements that may ease stress and anxiety, such as magnesium and inositol.
- Avoid toxins found in pesticides. Common pesticides and weed killers contain chemicals that mimic the estrogen hormone. Over time, this can cause a buildup and eventually, an unnecessary increase in estrogen levels, which has been shown to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Always read the labels on your yard, garden and home products, and avoid organophosphate pesticides that can cause estrogen dominance. Instead, invest in organic pesticides or ask your lawn care company what is in the products they use to care for your yard.
- Get plenty of rest. While getting enough sleep is important to your general health, did you know it's also crucial for breast health? That's right. The hormone produced by your brain during periods of darkness, melatonin, is a powerful antioxidant that helps level out estrogen levels and is very important for breast health. You can also take additional melatonin at bedtime to make sure you're falling and staying asleep without any interruptions.
- Avoid common household plastics. Items like water bottles, food storage containers, utensils, food packaging, shower curtain liners, cosmetics and detergents contain BPA, BPS and phthalates, all chemicals that mimic estrogen. Always drink out of glass or stainless steel, store your food in glass or ceramic dishes and avoid these harmful chemicals as much as possible.
- Know what's in your personal care items. Products such as lotions, shampoos, cosmetics and deodorants contain parabens, which can mimic estrogen and be absorbed directly into your skin and tissues. Read all the labels on your products and avoid any that include parabens in any form, including methylparaben and ethylparaben.
- Go bra-less. Yes, this is permission to go without! Studies show that women who wear bras for shorter periods of time actually have better breast health because the breasts aren't as restricted and are able to move around more naturally.
- Get outside more. We all know that vitamin D is important for just about every aspect of health, and breast health is no different. Optimize your exposure to natural sunlight by working in the yard, exercising outdoors or enjoying a walk in the park. Additionally, supplement with a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement to ensure you receive adequate amounts.
- Exercise. Regular exercise helps to improve breathing and brings oxygen to your tissues, which promotes lymphatic flow to the breasts. Also, exercising helps maintain a healthy body weight. Unnecessary body fat contributes to estrogen production, so keeping a healthy body weight is critical for optimal breast health. Take up a new spin class at the gym, go for a jog with your girlfriends or take your furry friend for a long walk after dinner. You'll be amazed at how good you feel afterwards!