Should Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?

Five studies have been performed on breast cancer survival and soy foods, involving more than 10,000 breast cancer patients. And, those who eat more soy live longer, and have a lower risk of the cancer coming back. But, what about women who carry breast cancer genes? Fewer than 10% of breast cancer cases run in families. But, when they do, it’s most likely mutations to one of the tumor suppressor genes—BRCA1 or BRCA2—that defend the integrity of our genes. They are involved in DNA repair, and so, if either one of them is damaged, or has mutations, chromosomal abnormalities can result, which can set us up for cancer.

This idea that we have tumor suppressor genes goes back to famous research in the 60s that showed that if you fuse together a normal cell with a cancer cell, the cancer cell doesn’t turn the normal cell malignant. Rather, the normal cell suppresses the cancerous one. Tumor suppressor genes are typically split up into two types. There are gatekeeper genes that keep cancer cells in check, and caretaker genes that keep the cell from going cancerous in the first place. And, BRCA genes appear able to do both—that’s why their function is so important.

breast-cancer-and-soy-concernsUntil recently, dietary recommendations for those with mutations focused on reducing DNA damage caused by free radicals, by eating lots of antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables. If your DNA-repair capacity is low, you want to be extra careful about damaging your DNA in the first place. But, what if we could also boost BRCA function?

In my last video on the topic, I showed how, in vitro, soy phytoestrogens could turn back on BRCA protection suppressed by breast cancer, upregulating BRCA expression as much as 1,000% within 48 hours. But, does that translate out of the petri dish and into the person? Apparently so.

Soy intake was only associated with 27% breast cancer risk reduction in people with normal BRCA genes, but a 73% risk reduction in carriers of BRCA gene mutations. So, a healthy diet may be particularly important in those at high genetic risk. Meat consumption, for example, was linked to twice as much risk in those with BRCA mutations—97% increased risk, instead of just 41% increased risk of breast cancer in those with normal BRCA genes.

Doctor’s Note

What about for women without breast cancer genes, or for women who have already been diagnosed? That was the subject of my last video, Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?. The older video I referred to is BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy.

What is in meat that may increase risk? See, for example:

Featured Image From Authority Nutrition and Livestrong.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

How to Make Stevia Extract to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

how-to-make-stevia-extractI’ve shied away from stevia in the past, because I hate its aftertaste. But, if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, it is probably your best option of sweetener to use. So how can we make it more palatable? Today I’ll show you how to make your own stevia extract that doesn’t have a horrid aftertaste.

Years ago, I went to a cooking class on gluten-free and sugar-free baking. It was the worst cooking class I have ever attended – for various reasons! It was a demonstration, and the foods that were prepared were very high in refined carbohydrates (albeit gluten free ones) and fats. But no sugar – they used stevia instead. When we got to taste the dishes – I hated them all! I think that was the first time I had ever had stevia – and that aftertaste just wouldn’t go away.

But today, after some investigation, I am a little more tolerant of stevia. You can reduce or avoid its aftertaste,which makes stevia a good option to help you transition to avoiding sugar and other artificial sweeteners.

Stevia comes from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, and is usually found as a powder or a liquid extract. The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycoside – which has 150 times the sweetness of sugar. Stevia does not affect blood glucose levels, and some studies show it may help improve insulin sensitivity.

What I have found is that the bitter aftertaste is apparent when too high a concentration of stevia is used. Even though recipes with stevia call for just a few drops – if the extract or powder is really concentrated, that can still be too much. So taking it easy is the way to go.

To make stevia powder, collect stevia leaves and dry them, then finely chop them in a blender. The dried leaf powder can be used as is, in certain recipes – but they won’t dissolve, so don’t try them in your coffee!

There are many different ways to prepare an extract, with variables including:

  • using fresh leaves or dried leaves

    I use fresh leaves that I grow myself. They are easy to grow, and the plant regrows every year. The ideal time to harvest the leaves is around August – when the flowers start to appear but before the flowers start dying. If you leave it too late, you are more likely to get bitterness. If you can’t get fresh leaves, you can buy the dried leaves and use them instead.

  • with alcohol or  without alcohol

    I use alcohol – vodka – for my extract, because it extracts the sweetness well, and quickly. Any recipe calls for only a few drops of extract, which means there is negligible alcohol in the final product.

  • duration of the extraction time

    I extract for a relatively short period because, again, I find that the sweetness comes through quickly, and there is more likely to be an aftertaste if you leave the leaves in the alcohol for a longer period.

  • concentrating the extract by heating

    I choose not to heat the extract and reduce it as I don’t want it to be highly concentrated. By leaving the extract as it is, the amount you put into a recipe is more controllable. Yes, maybe I’ll use 6 drops instead of 2, but I can taste it as I go along and adjust the sweetness to how I want it.

Obviously, you can adjust these to your own taste. Here’s the recipe. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you live near me and want some leaves – just let me know.H

Homemade stevia extract:

Ingredients

  • Fresh stevia leaves
  • Unflavored vodka
  • (you can vary the amount as you wish – for proportions, see the recipe).

Instructions

  1. Wash the stevia leaves
  2. Roughly tear the leaves into a couple of pieces and place them in a clean jar. I filled the jar with leaves – but they weren’t compressed down.
  3. Add enough vodka to cover the leaves. For my jar, this was about half full as the liquid compresses the leaves.
  4. Seal and shake the jar.
  5. Leave for 8-12 hours. Taste the liquid to see if it is sweet enough.
  6. Strain the liquid into a bottle and discard the leaves.
  7. Keep the bottle in the dark, or use a brown colored bottle. Having a dropper helps, as only a few drop are needed to sweeten foods.
Recipe Type: Sugar-free, gluten free, vegan, paleo, sugar substitute

Notes:

If you prefer a more concentrated extract, you can gently simmer the extract to boil off some of the alcohol.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Prevent Breast Cancer With These 5 Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Healthy Lifestyle Choices To Prevent CancerNecessary Lifestyle Choices for Optimum Health
An anti-cancer lifestyle will include a variety of exercise, organic foods, clean pure water and air. There are a few easy steps to keep the body safe and healthy. It is important to cultivate an awareness of what feels and taste right going into your body. It is equally important to stop and take notice of bad choices. Ask yourself “Is this good or bad for me? “Will it make me feel better or worse?” We all want to feel alive and vital.

1. Exercise – Yoga
Practicing restorative yoga has shown through studies to encourage and improve sleep and to enhance overall quality of life. (Reuters Health) – About one third of breast cancer survivors experience fatigue that affects their quality of life. A new study found that doing yoga might help restore some lost vitality. (bit.ly/sSZeZZ)

There are some simple suggestions to start exploring a change in vitality:

2. Cancer Prevention Foods – Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
It is suggested to eat a plant base diet of fruits and vegetables: make your diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables that are full of micronutrients and bioflavonoids which are duly noted to help prevent breast cancer or other cancers. Five or more servings per day is recommended by the American Cancer Institute. Red and blue berries hold a significant amount of necessary cell builders and anti-cancinogens that are a necessity on our tables.

Here are some simple choices to select from to start improving your health:

3. Water Therapy – Alkaline Water
Alkaline water (referred to as ionized water) can neutralize or decrease the acidity of the body’s pH caused by stress, modern diet, and air pollution. We suggest trying this water and feeling the possible positive effects.

Find a water store and get alkaline water by the gallon (it usually stays charged with negative ions for up to 48hours)
Purchase if possible a home alkaline water system that filters pollutants as well as charging the water with negative ions and anti oxidants

  • Benefit from the many ways to use alkaline water like necessary hydration for the body’s cells

4. Manage Stress – Learn to breathe
Deep breathing is vital in that it encourages the release of body toxins, rebuild healthy tissue which consequently increases overall energy. This true oxygen exchange stimulates digestion, assimilation and elimination. A very important function of breathing fully and slowly is that the body’s natural relaxation response is prompted. This relaxation response results in decreased tension, anxiety and fatigue.

A great place to start is with our single down-loadable breathing exercises or you could do the following.

5. Laugh Often – Emotional Balancing
It has been shown that even when manipulated to smile people in truth feel happier and joyful. Laughter can stop depression right in its tracks and boosts our immunity.

We suggest the following to bring on happiness.

  • Have a daily joke sent to your e-mail
  • Watch funny YouTube videos
  • Listen to the comedy channel on the radio
  • Download comedians from iTunes
Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?

is-soy-healthy-for-breast-cancer-survivorsSoyfoods have become controversial in recent years,…even among health professionals,…exacerbated by misinformation found on the Internet.” Chief among the misconceptions is that soy foods promote breast cancer, because they contain a class of  phytoestrogen compounds called isoflavones. Since estrogens can promote breast cancer growth, it’s natural to assume phytoestrogens might too.

But, people don’t realize there are two types of estrogen receptors in the body—alpha and beta. And, unlike actual estrogen, soy phytoestrogens “preferentially bind to and activate [estrogen receptor beta]. This distinction is important, because the 2 [types of receptors] have different tissue distributions…and often function differently, and sometimes in opposite ways.” And, this appears to be the case in the breast, where beta activation has an anti-estrogenic effect, inhibiting the growth-promoting effects of actual estrogen—something we’ve known for more than ten years. There’s no excuse anymore.

The effects of estradiol, the primary human estrogen, on breast cells are completely opposite to those of soy phytoestrogens, which have antiproliferative effects on breast cancer cells, even at the low concentrations one gets in one’s bloodstream eating just a few servings of soy—which makes sense, given that after eating a cup of soybeans, the levels in our blood cause significant beta receptor activation.

So, where did this outdated notion that soy could increase breast cancer risk come from? The concern was “based largely on research that showed that [the main soy phytoestrogen] genistein stimulates the growth of mammary tumors in [a type of] mouse.” But, it turns out, we’re not actually mice. We metabolize soy isoflavones very differently from rodents. The same soy leads to 20 to 150 times higher levels in the bloodstream of rodents. The breast cancer mouse in question was 58 times higher. So, if you ate 58 cups of soybeans a day, you could get some significant alpha activation, too. But, thankfully, we’re not hairless athymic ovariectomized mice, and we don’t tend to eat 58 cups of soybeans a day.

At just a few servings of soy a day, with the excess beta activation, we would assume soy would actively help prevent breast cancer. And, indeed, “[s]oy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adult life were each associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.” Those women who ate the most soy in their youth appear to grow up to have less than half the risk.

This may help explain why breast cancer rates are so much higher here than in Asia—yet, when Asians come over to the U.S. to start eating and living like Americans, their risk shoots right up.  For example, women in Connecticut—way at the top of the breast cancer risk heap—in their fifties have, like, ten times more breast cancer than women in their fifties living in Japan. But, it’s not just genetic, since when they move here, their breast cancer rates go up generation after generation, as they assimilate into our culture.

Are the anti-estrogenic effects of soy foods enough to actually change the course of the disease? We didn’t know, until the first human study on soy food intake and breast cancer survival was published in 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggesting that “[a]mong women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and [breast cancer] recurrence.” Followed by another study, and then another, all with similar findings.

That was enough for the American Cancer Society, who brought together a wide range of cancer experts to offer nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors, to conclude that, if anything, soy foods should be beneficial. Since then, two additional studies have been published, for a total of five, and they all point in the same direction. Five out of five, tracking more than 10,000 breast cancer patients.

Pooling all the results, soy food intake after breast cancer diagnosis was associated with reduced mortality (meaning a longer lifespan) and reduced recurrence—so, less likely the cancer comes back. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t cracked a journal open in seven years.

And, this improved survival was for both women with estrogen receptor negative tumors and estrogen receptor positive tumors, and for both younger women, and for older women. Pass the edamame.

Doctor’s Note

This is probably the same reason flax seeds are so protective. See Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Epidemiological Evidence and Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Clinical Evidence.

What about women who carry breast cancer genes? I touched on that in BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy, and it’s the topic of my next video, Should Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?

What about genetically modified soy? I made a video abut that too; see GMO Soy & Breast Cancer.

Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy? Glad you asked. Watch that video too! 🙂

Not all phytoestrogens may be protective, though. See The Most Potent Phytoestrogen is in Beer and What are the Effects of the Hops Phytoestrogen in Beer?

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Food for Cancer – Diet and Recipes

food_that_fight_cancerDiet for Cancer

Eating healthy diet, rich with valuable nutrients, is crucial not only for people with cancer but, really, for everyone.

Why go vegan?
Many studies show the connection between eating animal products and deadly disease such as cancer. And the truth is, that even without reading those studies, it’s pretty easy to see for yourself: try to replace any animal food (meat, dairy, eggs) with whole natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and see how you feel. Within a short period of time you will probably notice a positive change.

Plant based diet, rich with antioxidants, is what our body needs to prevent cancer and also to fight it. I’m not saying that a person that has cancer should not treat it in the traditional medical way. I’m just saying that a good plant based healthy diet will help the body to heal. So if a person is suffering from cancer, and they have the option to drop the bacon (BIG cancer cause!) for lentil soup (or salad; or apple anything truly healthy!), they better do it.

My blog offers a valuable information for those who like to know more about how they can prevent and treat cancer. Here is a quick reference:

There are specific foods that help fight cancer; I listed them here. 

Lots of recipes from my blog can be included in a special diet for cancer. This is the page with all those recipes. 

There is one more Issue that you may like to address: the deadly chemicals in your beauty products. You may not know, but your deodorant, shampoo, body lotion and all the others may contain harsh chemicals that were found in tumors!
This is a list of the 8 deadly chemicals that you van find in most beauty products

And if you are confused and not sure which beauty products to use, why don’t you try to do it yourself? here you can find a great home-made DIY recipes for an amazing body butter and face moisturizer. 

Enjoy!

Visit: www.NeverMeatAgain.com

Email: neeva@goldfish1.com

Protein Rich Meal Idea For A Cancer Diet: Green Beans With Tomato Sauce

green-beans-with-tomato-sauceA simple but so delicious dish, packed with plant-based protein which is the best for us!
You may eat it as is or mix it with rice.

What you need:

4 cups of green beans. Cut the edges of both sides of each bean.
5-6 ripe tomatoes, cut to cubes
1 large onion, chopped well
2 garlic cloves, chopped well
Optional: 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped. Or you may use dry leaves
Salt to taste
3 spoons Avocado oil
Filtered water to cover

What to do:

  1. Use wide pot to saute the onion and the garlic in the avocado oil until they are soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and the basil. Mix well.
  4. Add the green peas, mix gently and add water to cover.
  5. Let boil, and then lower the heat and cook with cover until the beans are soft and ready to eat. If you like less sauce you may cook half covered.

I recommend to eat it with rice. Here is a great, very simple recipe for white basmati rice:

What you need:

  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: either 1 tbsp turmeric (for a yellow rice), or 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 spoons avocado oil

What to do:

  1. Warm the avocado oil in a large pot and add the rice with salt and either the turmeric or cumin seeds (or just plain rice). Mix well.
  2. Add the water and cook covered until boil. Then lower the heat and cook half covered until there are no more water. Then cover the pot completely and turn off the heat. Leave for 5 minutes and there you go! You have one of best rice dishes in the world!

Enjoy!

Visit: www.NeverMeatAgain.com

Email: neeva@goldfish1.com

There is so Much to Recovery

breast-cancer-recoveryAs I am sitting by the fireplace in the midst of the Catskill region and reflecting on what to write for this breast cancer blog, I am reminded of my yogic learning. In yoga we try not to think that which we do not want. This is a blog for any recovery.

Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body
If I only focus on the disease, then my recovery is limited. Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body. Recovery cannot occur unless we are willing to look at the complexity of our being. We need to heal our physical body but that also includes our emotional, mental and spiritual being. Doctors and treatments do not heal us; they facilitate our process of healing. They are very necessary. They give us the strength and physical ability to enable the healing that comes from within us.

Our body when balanced has the power to heal
Working in hospitals as a student, I could not understand when doctors would say; “I can not do anything for this patient, she does not have the will to live.” We as patients must become partners with the doctors in the healing process. Our body when balanced has the power to heal according to yoga. Therefore yogis do exercises and breath work to enable the body to balance.

When the body has dis-ease, it is out of balance. With the wonderful work of science, doctors now have the ability to attack most dis-eases, and to give us the strength to begin the healing process. These blogs are here to assist us in this healing process.

The word yoga means to “yoke our individual self with the universal self.” We believe that eventually all of us will join our creator. To do so, we need to purify this physical, mental and emotional body. Our soul is universal, we are universal, but having a human experience. It is everyone’s destiny to return to the source. It matters not what you call the source, God, Allah, Krishna, there is only ONE but we all take different paths. When we are on the path towards our goals, we feel more balanced.

Our spiritual body is also required in the healing process
All beings on this planet rely on life force. This life force we call praana, others may call it chi or adamantine particles. Praana is the essence of life. It is the essence of creation coming from the Heart Core of our Supreme Creator. Therefore, our spiritual body is also required in the healing process.

How much praana we are able to absorb is dependent on our physical, mental and emotional vessel? I like to compare it with the electricity in our homes. It is always there to give us 120 volt. The refrigerator takes all of the voltage; whereas the transistor radio can only take 12 volts. Similarly our body utilizes praana according to the state of our being. The goal is to be able to absorb more and more praana. More life force in the physical body will affect the mental and emotional body. Similarly the emotional body affects the physical. When we are happy or in love, we have an abundant amount of energy. When we are sad and depressed our energy is low. When our mind creates tension, the flow of praana is obstructed within the physical vessel. So we must constantly try to increase the praana within us, through any method available, either physical, mental or emotional.

For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana
Praana is life force that will aid all healing processes. The easiest way to increase praana is through the breath. Yoga states that by the regular practice of praanayaam or breathing exercises we can maintain a higher standard of health, vigor and vitality. For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana.

For this blog post I would like YOU to start taking long deep breaths
Let the exhalation be as long as the inhalation, break the breath between both for a short while. We call this rhythmical breathing. This can be done at any time of the day, and as many times as possible. Practice daily, and slowly the body will get accustomed to taking in more oxygen.

When life becomes overwhelming and tense, take a deep breath and allow the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation, and the body will quiet down immediately. Put this tool in the back pocket and draw it out whenever necessary. Life gives us much tension.

With Love and Respect
Ma Mokshapriya

MokshaPriya Breast Cancer Authority Blog ContributorMokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at info@teachyoga.org or www.teachyoga.org.

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

A cancer prevention diet is one that is high in fiber, low in fat (especially animal fat), and includes generous portions of fruits and vegetables. It also minimizes or excludes alcohol. The best diets are pure vegetarian diets.

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer:

  1. If you can remove carcinogenicity from the would-be cancer sufferers and thereby the link between environmental and dietary exposures of a multitude of toxins, organic plant based diet would be the obvious “cure”.
  2. Controlled clinical trials to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our bodies can benefit from the phytonutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cancer.
  3. Women believe prevention as doing nothing but waiting for the detection of the disease. the real preventative measures available to women to combat breast cancer, and all cancers for that matter, are available from trusted “authoritative” sources that prove plant based diets prevent cancer.
  4. Vegan diet has been promoted as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

Nutrition Journal evidence based research says an anticancer diet would have:

• adequate, but not excessive calories,

• 10 or more servings of vegetables a day, including cruciferous and allium vegetables; vegetable juice could meet part of this goal,

• 4 or more servings of fruits a day,

• high in fiber,

• no refined sugar,

• no refined flour,

• low in total fat, but containing necessary essential fatty acids,

• no red meat,

• a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats and would include DHA,

• flax seed as a source of phytoestrogens,

• supplemented with ~200 μg/day selenium,

• supplemented with 1,000 μg/day methylcobalamin (B-12),

• very rich in folic acid (from dark green vegetables),

• adequate sunshine to get vitamin D, or use 1,000 IU/day supplement,

• very rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables, including α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, vitamin C (from foods), vitamin E (from foods),

• very rich in chlorophyll,

• supplemented with beneficial probiotics,

• supplemented with oral enzymes

Nutrition research has found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables protects against cancer. (The greatest message is that this same diet protects against almost all other diseases, too, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.) There are many mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables are protective, and an enormous body of research supports the recommendation for people to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Featured photo: Daily Mail

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Quickest & Easiest Way To Decrease Depression Symptoms For Breast Cancer Patients

exercise-for-depression-cancer-treatment-protocolWe’ve known for decades that even a single bout of exercise can elevate our mood, but could it be enough to be used as a treatment for major depression?

We’ve known that physical activity has been associated with decreased symptoms of depression. For example, if you look at a cross-section of 8,000 people across the country, those that exercised regularly were less likely to have a major depression diagnosis. That’s just a snapshot in time, though. In that study, the researcher openly acknowledges this may be a case of reverse causation. Maybe exercise didn’t cut down on depression, maybe depression cut down on exercise. The reason depression may be associated with low physical activity is that people may feel too lousy to get out of bed. What we’ve needed was an interventional study where you take people who are already depressed and randomize them into an exercise intervention.

That is what researchers from Duke University Medical Center did. They randomized men and women over age 50 with major depression to two groups: one who did an aerobic exercise program for four months and another that took an antidepressant drug called Zoloft. In my video Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression you can see a graph of their changes. Before exercise, their Hamilton Depression scores were up around 18 (anything over seven is considered depressed). Within four months, the drug group came down to normal, which are exactly what the drugs are supposed to do. What about the exercise-only group, though? Exercise had the same powerful effect.

The researchers concluded that an exercise training program may be considered an alternative to antidepressants for treatment of depression in older persons, given that they’ve shown that a group program of aerobic exercise is a feasible and effective treatment for depression, at least for older people.

Not so fast, though.

A “group program?” They had the exercise group folks come in three times a week for a group class. Maybe the only reason the exercise group got better is because they were forced to get out of bed and interact with people—maybe it was the social stimulation and had nothing to do with the actual exercise? Before you could definitively say that exercise can work as well as drugs, what we would need to see is the same study, but with an additional group who exercised alone with no extra social interaction. And those same Duke researchers did just that,

They created the largest exercise trial of patients with major depression conducted to date, and not just including older folks, but other adults as well with three different treatment groups this time: a home exercise group in addition to the supervised group exercise and the drug group as before.

And they all worked about just as well in terms of forcing the depression into remission. So we can say with confidence that exercise is comparable to antidepressant medication in the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.

Putting all the best studies together, researchers indicate that exercise at least has a moderate antidepressant effect, and at best, exercise has a large effect on reductions in depression symptoms and could be categorized as a very useful and powerful intervention. Unfortunately, while studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression, exercise is rarely prescribed as a treatment for this common and debilitating problem.

Exercise may compare favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression, but how much is that really saying? How effective are antidepressant drugs in the first place? Check out my video Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?

For dietary interventions that may improve mood, see:

Exercise can also help with ADHD (Treating ADHD Without Stimulants) and improve immunity (Preserving Immune Function in Athletes With Nutritional Yeast), not to mention extend our lives (Longer Life Within Walking Distance). But what we eat matters: Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Best Ways To Eat Flax Seeds For A Breast Cancer Diet

flax-seed-recipes-for-breast-cancer-dietFlax seed is one of the original health foods, treasured for its healing properties throughout the Roman Empire, and was one of the original medicines used by Hippocrates.  Mahatma Gandhi himself was right when he said, “Wherever flax seeds become a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.” Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the more reputable alternative medicine physicians, says that if we can make only a single dietary change, it should be to add flax seeds to our diet. Okay, but where do we find them, and how should we eat them?

Flax seeds are almost always in the bulk section of any natural food store. For about a dollar a pound, you’ve got like a two-month supply. There are brown ones and golden ones. They’re the same nutritionally, so pick your favorite color, I guess. They come with nature’s own finest packaging: a hard natural hull that keeps them fresh for up to a year, in an airtight container. Unfortunately, nature’s packaging is actually a little too good; if we eat flax seeds whole, they are likely to pass right through us, come out the other end, and not do us much good. So chew them really well, or grind them up in a coffee or spice grinder, a mini food processor, or a good blender. After they’re ground, store them in the refrigerator, and they’ll last a few months.

An easy way to get our daily intake is with a morning smoothie. Just put two tablespoons of flax seeds in a blender, grind them to powder, throw in some frozen berries, maybe half a frozen banana, some soy milk or almond milk (any of the so-called “motherless milks”). Flax seeds have this binding quality that makes for these thick, rich kind of milkshake-y type smoothies. In fact, you can use ground flax seed to replace eggs in baking. Just blend one tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons water, until it gets all kind of gooey, for each egg in the recipe.

Ground flax is better than the flax seed oil. The seeds are little nutrition powerhouses, and we lose much of the nutrition when we just press out the oil. Not only are flax seeds the richest source of lignans, they are a great source of iron, zinc, copper, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber—which can lower our cholesterol and triglycerides—even boron, a trace mineral important for optimum bone health. We don’t get any of those, though, with just the flax seed oil. Another example of the importance of eating whole plant foods.

Flax seeds are incredibly powerful at dampening the effects of estrogen. Eating just a single tablespoon of ground flax seeds a day extends the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle—not the menses itself, but the whole month-long cycle—by an average of about one day. So you have fewer periods throughout your life, which means less estrogen exposure, and lower breast cancer risk.

There’s an interesting story behind this; we’ve known for a long time that young women who have frequent bladder infections were at an increased risk for breast cancer. Frequent bladder infections tied to breast cancer? It seems strange, and used to be a big mystery, but now we think that repeated antibiotic treatments for the bladder infections were probably wiping out all the good bacteria from the colon, which take the lignans in our diet, and turn them into these powerful anticancer compounds. So eating flax, the world’s best source of lignans, may indeed help prevent breast cancer.

It’s good for men, too. Flax seeds were recently compared to a leading pharmacological treatment for enlarged prostates. The standard drug costs about $300 a year versus only about $10 for daily flax. This new study found they both work just as well as each other. But what about the side effects? Well, the drug can cause headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, and all sorts of abnormalities. Flax has some side effects too, though: it improves our cholesterol and blood sugar, controls our blood pressure, and helps control hot flashes—though that’s not usually a big problem in sufferers of enlarged prostates.

More about flax seeds in the prevention and mediation of breast cancer:

And for a few of the latest videos on flax seeds and prostate health:

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer and DietIs Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskVitamin B12: how much, how often? Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet; and Flax Seeds for Prostate Cancer.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

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