8 Steps to Healthy Breasts

Because the women in my life are so important to me, I’m dedicating all of my work for October 2013 to them: my friends, my colleagues, my readers, and all the ladies I connect with in multiple Facebook communities. I want to empower my sisters with a baseline of knowledge, which you can build on as part of your own healthy practices.

Self Love

While most of the western world observes breast cancer awareness in October, I want to put a positive spin on things. The blogs I’ll post this month will pour energy and focus into the manifestation of breast health. It’s a celebration of our femininity and our connection to the Goddess.

Today, I offer you practical tips for your breast health.

Purple Cabbage

The food & lifestyle recommendations I’m sharing here are good for your breasts no matter the state of your/their health.

Perhaps you simply want to incorporate their care into your daily routine. Maybe you want to lessen your tendency towards cysts, or alleviate monthly pain & tenderness. (Incidentally, these benign breast symptoms are much more common than their more insidious cousin.) And yes, reduce your risk for breast cancer, perhaps even help to heal it.

My intention is to move beyond the fear of cancer. Where we put our attention, grows. Why wait for a diagnosis to provide motivation to change habits in your life that may contribute to that, and other diseases?

WHAT IF YOU MAKE A RADICAL DECISION TO TAKE YOUR BREAST HEALTH INTO HAND SIMPLY AS A PART OF LOOKING AFTER THE GIFT THAT IS YOUR WHOLE BODY?

I can guarantee you, whatever’s good for the “girls” is good for the whole woman.

First some facts:

  • Breasts are made up of glandular tissue that’s sensitive to hormonal changes in the body, which means they change through the menstrual cycle, and through perimenopause.
  • They’re particularly sensitive to estrogen, to which we’re exposed more & more (see below).
  • Because of the strong link between the nervous & the endocrine (hormonal) systems, breast tissue is highly reactive to stress (both internal & external).
  • Breasts and nipples come in all shapes & sizes. Most of us have one that’s larger and/or higher than the other.  We’re all different. Or should I say, unique. As such, it’s important to get to know what that means to you. What’s your normal?

Estrogen dominance, the imbalance of estrogen relative to progesterone,

  • is amplified by high body fat (some estrogen is produced in the fat cells)
  • and by a high sugar/simple carb diet (increased insulin sets the stage for cellular inflammation and increased estrogen circulation by suppressing the hormone SHBG).
  • Inadequate fibre reduces the clearance of hormones once they’ve done their job, allowing them to recirculate and do more than they were intended for.
  • Environmental toxins (aka endocrine disruptors) mimic and increase estrogenic activity. Estrogen exposure includes that from the Pill & HRT, and their circulation in our waters.
  • Add inflammatory tendencies from poor diet and stress, and you have the recipe for overstimulation of breast tissue, a higher incidence of benign breast symptoms (lumps, cysts, pain), as well as an increased risk of cancer. (Estrogen dominance is also responsible for PMS, uterine fibroids and thyroid imbalances.)

One point to highlight about any symptoms in your breasts

This is the place in your body that’s deeply linked to the way that you care for others, yes, but more importantly, your breasts are a barometer for how well you’re nourishing yourself. Any symptoms you experience in your breasts are a part of your soul’s messaging system, reminding you that there are places where you need to give more time, love and energy to yourself!

So, let’s dive into what can be done to protect, improve and maintain these gals.

Get to know your normal. In the next blog, I’m going to detail a new approach to the Breast Self Exam. Knowing the details of your own body is a crucial step in improving on its integrity.

For now, I give you

8 STEPS TO REDUCE ESTROGEN DOMINANCE AND IMPROVE BREAST HEALTH

Try looking at these suggestions as a way of improving your diet globally, for all sorts of bonus health reasons, like more energy, a healthier weight, clear skin, and increased libido. Now, who wouldn’t want all that?

This is not something you need to do in one shot, because then you’ll be right back to your old habits next week. Instead, every few days, choose a new habit to incorporate, a different food type to replace, or a new food to add to your menu. Let this be a gradual transition, a gentle shift to a new way of living, with lots of room for forgiveness and kindness along the way.

1. EAT MORE VEGGIES!

  • Aim for a minimum 4 cups; challenge yourself to get as many colours of the rainbow in one day. Vary the types and preparation.
  • Eat more cruciferous veggies daily: indole-3-carbinol limits estrogen binding. Be sure to mostly eat them cooked to lessen the goitrogenic effects, i.e. improve iodine absorption.
  • Eat fewer nightshades, or avoid them altogether if you have inflammation.
  • Include leafy greens daily. These babies, which include fresh herbs, are packed with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fats and phytoestrogens!

The upshot: the more veggies you eat, the more you displace poor food choices, which means you will

  • Decrease body fat
  • Decrease sugar and refined carb intake
  • Increase soluble fibre intake

2. Get to know where you’re exposed to xeno-estrogens and other toxins that add to the load your liver has to clear:

  • No more plastic containers; especially with hot, acidic, fatty food
  • No more chlorine-based cleaning products
  • Opt for organic food
  • Drink filtered water; consider a filter for your shower
  • Choose cosmetics with natural ingredients

3. EAT PHYTOESTROGEN- AND LIGNAN-RICH FOODS; these plant-based compounds act like estriol and lessen the impact of estradiol. Bonus: they’re all rich in fibre!

  • Legumes/pulses/beans; includes red clover & fenugreek
  • Seeds, nuts & healthy oils
  • Whole grains such as brown or red or black rice, quinoa (≠whole wheat/grain flour products)
  • Leafy greens (yes, I’m repeating myself on this one!)

fiber-rich-foods crop

4. GET ENOUGH IODINE to decrease the ability of estrogen to bind to receptors

  • Seaweed; add a 2-inch piece of kombu to your rice, instead of salt; eat more sushi!
  • Tincture; a small drop can be applied right to a sore breast daily for 2 weeks
  • Supplement drops
  • If you’re at the beach, take long, deep breaths of the iodine-rich sea air!

5. EAT PLENTY OF GOOD FAT The more omega-3 and other high-quality fats you eat, the fewer “bad” fats you’ll eat (hydrogenated, trans, heat-processed, fried oils)

  • Cold water fish; salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines
  • Flax, hemp & chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee
  • Avocado, olives, free-range eggs

6. Eliminate dairy
It’s mucous-forming. And, in the US, BGH given to cows adds to your hormonal load.

From an energetic perspective, milk is meant to flow from the breasts, out of a woman’s body. When you ingest milk, you reverse that natural flow, and create blockages & inflammation in joints, kidneys, uterus, ovaries, as well as breasts.

Stay away from all dairy for one month, and see what happens – you might be surprised!

7. REGULAR MODERATE EXERCISE regulates insulin and reduces body fat.

Walk, bike, swim, garden, yoga, dance around the living room like an idiot,…find something you love to do. Make it fun!

8. CHANGE YOUR BRA

An underwire or a too tight bra will prevent proper blood & lymph circulation, which means it cuts off the nutrients going into your breasts, as well as the removal of wastes coming out.

I know. I know. I love my “Body by Victoria” as much as the next girl. But, I’ve come to appreciate those as my occasional bras, and save the cotton sports bras & Lululemons for daily use. It’s made a difference to how lumpy by boobs used to get premenstrually. I’m currently on the lookout for a stunning bra that holds the girls in place without the wires and without looking like it’s a hand-me-down from my great-aunt Bernice.

Have you tried other solutions to improve the health of your breasts? Tell us about it. When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Because this is a topic that effects us all, be sure to share this post with the women in your life, using any (or all!) of these buttons.

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The Reasons I Uphold What Angelina Did

Inspired by Judy Chicago, I’ve created a virtual dinner party: One category of my blog will be dedicated to honouring women who I want as a part of my soul community. Each woman at my virtual table has a lesson to teach, even if it’s simply to inspire us with her ability to hold greater aspirations for ourselves than we’d ever thought possible. Each one will be a manifestation of the Goddess, a Wise Woman, a pilgrim on the road of the Sacred Feminine. I want to share the wisdom of these women as part of my community of support.

This week, I’ve invited Angelina Jolie.Angelina-Jolie-2013

The media went haywire last May when Angelina Jolie announced that she’d had a double mastectomy…just in case. I want to share the learning & inspiration that Angelina’s case (since we’re having dinner together, I don’t feel a need to call her Ms. Jolie) has ignited in me since then.

I must admit, that when I first read her op-ed in The New York Times, I felt extremely uncomfortable. There was something quite moving and powerful in what she was expressing, and yet rereading it again this morning, it still doesn’t sit easily with me.

So, you ask, why do I want to uphold her as an example of my deep values?

Perhaps it’d be easier if I explain what bothers me about the announcement.

  • Because so many women (and men) admire Angelina Jolie as an icon of feminine beauty and sexuality, it bothers me to think that women all over the world are going to put themselves through undue stress & medical procedures, just because she did it.
  • It bothers me to think that women may believe that radical surgery is the only answer to a potential risk for cancer.
  • It makes me wonder if Angelina, and other women who’ve undergone complete mastectomies, will now neglect her breast health simply because she no longer has breast tissue.

Because, let me make one thing clear: having healthy breasts does not only mean being cancer-free.

  • Will Angelina continue to address the lifestyle choices and issues in her life that would set the stage for cancer in general?
  • It irks me that the language of BRCA gene testing talks about “diagnosing” a certain “mutation” – language that implies that having the gene is a disease in itself, and that the person who has that particular gene is not normal.

This last bit came to light when I started reading a little more extensively into what’s involved when a person is a possible carrier of the BRCA1 & BRCA2 gene.

Which brings me to an important point I’ve learned since pondering and reading more about this:

Even though women with the gene can have up to an 85% chance of breast cancer, depending on her age, “only 5-10% of breast cancers and 14% of ovarian cancers occur from a genetic predisposition – the rest do not.”1

These facts remind us that we need to address proper breast health and cancer prevention regardless of whether we carry the gene.

Where I see the power in Angelina’s choice:

  • I respect that such a prominent personality told the world that she’d made a deeply thought-out decision for herself, based on her body, her history, her ideals, and the support of her family. Get it: it was her individual choice. Right for her. I hope it inspires more of the same
  • I applaud her choice to undergo the procedure at a specialized breast clinic that offers a full palette of medical, nutrition, alternative and psychological care for its patients. They offer testing, supervision and prevention, not just surgery.
  • I admire the fact that this icon of femininity has been able to stand up and show the world that she is not her breasts. That beauty and sex appeal (hers, yours, mine) lie deeper than her tits (or her ass or her full lips) – a fact that we sometimes forget as a society.

rati-kamaI guess that’s one part of Angelina, of all of us, that I want to celebrate today: we all contain the essence of Rati, Hindu goddess of love, carnal desire, lust, passion and sexual pleasure. No matter the size, shape or tone of any of our delicious curves, we are worthy objects of love & desire, including our own.

 

  • I love that Angelina’s coming forward opens the conversation we need to be having around our health as women in general, as well as our breast health. I pray it also opens the debate for adequate (breast) health care for women of less affluent means – care that goes beyond an annual mammogram.

We’re around the corner from October, Breast Health Awareness Month. Let’s continue the conversation below in the comments, or on my Facebook page.

For those of you in Montreal, the conversation will happen at Studio Energii: The Good Heath Starts Here series of talks continues in October with Breast Food for Life, a discussion of lifestyle practices for enhancing breast health, and Marvelous Melons & Perfect Plums, a taste of the deeper significance of our breasts and their health.

Click here for more information and to sign up.

In my next blog, read ways of loving and caring for breasts beyond, and despite, the risks & fear of cancer.

1. From the blog for the Pink Lotus Breast Center, retrieved September 16, 2013

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