With October being breast cancer awareness month it’s a good reminder to make healthy choices not just for a month, but also throughout the year.
Let’s dive into two important aspects of breast cancer: epigenetics and estrogen.
In functional nutrition we often say: “genetics load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”
Gene and environmental interactions play a big role in our health destiny.
It’s wonderful to know that our health is not fully predetermined. Even though mom or Aunt Rose had cardiovascular disease or was obese, or that you might carry the genes for breast cancer, you can still out smart your genetics.
Utilizing 23andme to know more about our genes and understanding our genetic make-up is very informative, and a lot of people are doing it these days. But just because you have a certain mutation doesn’t mean it’s expressed. Did your environment turn on or off that gene?
Knowing how to turn on or off certain genes through epigenetics puts you in the driver seat of your health.
You have the power to help your genes just by affecting the environment within your body.
Within our body is the sequence of DNA --> RNA --> protein that can biochemically and physiologically change your hereditary fate. The key molecule that contains all your genes is DNA. Protein is the building block of all the cells in your body. It is these small and intricate proteins that give our bodies structure and function.
Even if you have genes that are geared to express themselves, you have the ability to turn those genes “on” or “off” with how and what you eat. It doesn’t matter if those genes are for obesity, methylation challenges or breast cancer – you are the master!
Remember, your genetic blueprint (genes) does not determine your health.
The foods you eat and the lifestyle that you live alters how your genes act.
Not only do our choices through epigenetics have an impact on our breast cancer outcomes, but breast cancer is strongly linked to estrogen dominance – something both men and women need to consider. Yes men, you have estrogen too!
Since roughly 75% of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive, it is key to take action to maintain your internal hormonal balance.
Keep in mind that estrogen dominance does not solely result in the development of cancer.
Estrogen dominance can lead to a substantial increase in female-related disruptions, much more than ever seen in the past. It is influenced by environmental factors and our body’s ability to break down, process and eliminate the excessive estrogen that we are exposed to.
Remember, anything excess in your body acts as a toxin.
Here are a few hormonal instability related facts in our culture:
Scientific data shows that hormone disruption is at the root of breast cancer.
Many of us have toxic levels of estrogen, but this can be altered!
Some breast cancer powerhouses:
It is through the food we eat and the lifestyle that we live that enables our DNA to work with our health goals or against. What nutrition and lifestyle actions have you been taking to reach your health goals? Let me know below.
P.S. - A big THANK YOU to those individuals and families who have contributed to our Team Zero donation page for this Sunday's Ironman Chattanooga. Your donation is going to a great cause. If you haven't donated yet you can click here! Whatever amount you are able to donate, it will be greatly appreciated.
Is there a lady in your life who is competitive in nature and strongly disciplined?
I’m sure most of you are internally (or even out loud) saying YES!
These attributes can be very beneficial in being an athlete or succeeding in many aspects of life. However, they can also be a part of the equation that can lead to a very serious condition called the Female Athlete Triad, an issue of great concern to the health of the individual.
The Female Athlete Triad is something that is usually not discussed enough among physically active individuals, yet is very real and common. Ladies, it doesn’t matter how old you are as it can happen to any female of childbearing age.
Female Athlete Triad consists of the combination of these three:
Disordered eating describes a range of abnormal and harmful eating behaviors that are used to reduce body mass or maintain below normal body fat levels. This is the primary cause of lack of menses (i.e. no menstrual cycle) in physically active females.
Disordered eating can occur with or without the intentional or non-intentional under-consumption of calories, which results in nutrient deficiencies. And that’s the scary part in that you might be thinking that you are consuming enough of the right calories and nutrients to equal your level of physical activity, but you are not truly getting enough, which is just as harmful as intentionally not eating enough.
The second leg of the triad is irregular menstrual function (lack of regular menstrual function), which has two different degrees:
Both of these degrees of amenorrhea are more prevalent in athletes. Rigorous training schedules can lead to energy deficits. Keep in mind that exercise alone does not cause lack of menses, as amenorrhea is not just a normal part of being an athlete.
Severe consequences can occur when having irregular menstrual function, particularly in relation to bone health, such as:
The above improper bone health related consequences leads us to the third leg of the Triad, osteoporosis. This is where an individual has a bone mass density of 2.5 or more standard deviations below the mean, which is determined by peak bone mass. An individual’s peak bone mass is achieved in adolescence and early adulthood and is strongly linked to bone strength and resistance to fracture.
When discussing osteoporosis, it is also important to consider osteopenia. Osteopenia is known as low bone mass and makes an individual more susceptible to osteoporosis. In this situation an individual has a bone mass density of 1.0-2.5 standard deviations below the mean. Osteopenia is commonly seen in athletes and is of great concern once an individual reaches about 30 years of age since bone mineral density is at it’s max and individuals are no longer able to gain bone mass density beyond this age.
Thus, osteopenia increases your chances of getting a fracture later in life.
So, how will the Triad affect short-term performance?
Triad’s long-term impacts:
How to help prevent the Female Athlete Triad? Here are a few tips to help you stay active and healthy so you can enjoy your sport:
The Female Athlete Triad is preventable and can impact all physically active women. Let’s together continue down the path to long-term health – mind, body and bones.
If you have any experiences with the Triad, I’d love to hear from you below!
PS - Wanting new recipe ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some yummy and creative ideas.
Hello, my name is Stacy Peterson, licensed Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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