I was listening to a lecture on my way in to work today about natural ways to prevent cancer. During this lecture the presenter talked about the top 5 factors that influence cancer risk including 1. chronic inflammation 2. hormonal imbalance (mostly stress hormones, not sex hormones)3. insulin resistance 4. immune dysregulation and 5. impaired detoxification. She then went on to talk about the top 5 ways to manipulate these systems in a positive way which included 1. eating a whole food, mostly plant based diet 2. exercise 3. effectively managing stress 4. getting adequate sleep and 5. avoiding toxins (especially tobacco and excessive alcohol). She went on to explain the specific role each of the factors play in modulating cancer risk, however, what occurred to me while listening was those were the same five things mentioned in the “preventing heart disease” lecture and the “preventing autoimmune disease” lecture and the “preventing dementia” lecture ( I think you get the point).
Some of the latest literature is now showing you can reduce your chance of developing a chronic disease by over 80% if you adopt the 5 things mentioned above. And for those of you that already have a chronic disease it is not to late. Incorporating those 5 factors in your day to day life have a greater potential to modify your disease and improve your quality of life than nearly any pharmaceutical on the market. I will admit that making lifestyle changes are generally more difficult than popping a pill however I would argue broad away of benefits and lack of nasty side effects are well worth the effort. I wouldn’t necessarily say any one of the 5 are more important than the other, however, I would like to point out the one that has the most influence on all of the others. Exercise.
Incorporating exercise into your life will reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep and help you more effectively manage stress. It even improves your bodies ability to detoxify by both eliminating toxins through sweat and improving lymphatic function. And here is the best news of all, it turns out exercise intensity plays a larger role in overall benefits than time spent. This is great news for those who do not have the time to spend hours in the gym. Just 10 minutes of interval training was more effective at improving insulin sensitivity and burning fat than 60 min of moderate activity. To take it even further spending to much time exercising actually INCREASED oxidative stress in the body. A lot of people have the mentality that it is “pointless” to exercise if you can only get in 10-15 min but this couldn’t be further from truth. 10-15 min of HIIT (high intensity interval training) 3 times per week can make a tremendous difference in your overall health.
The take home message is that there are a lot of things we can do to make our bodies more “disease proof” and incorporating small changes over time can make a big difference. For additional tips check out this article I wrote a couple of months ago on 8 ways to add years to life and life to years.