Making healthy changes at any point in your life can help you reduce your risk of a recurrence or new cancer, prevent additional health issues and keep your body strong as it recovers from treatment and surgery.
Consider these important 6 healthy living choices:
- Drop Excess Weight
Those love handles might sound cute, but carrying around excess pounds can increase your risks for a variety of health issues, including heart disease and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the good news is that even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, can produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars.
Losing weight prior to your breast reconstruction might also help to prevent surgical complications. One study published in the Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery found that obese women were 2.29 times more likely to experience surgical complications.
Dropping pounds should be done gradually at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
- Eat Healthier
If you skip breakfast, love sweets, douse your popcorn in a salt and butter, enjoy a double cheeseburger every day for lunch, and haven’t had a veggie pass your lips in years, you might want to consider a diet overhaul. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, keep your bones and muscles strong and help keep your weight down.
Start eating healthier by making small changes. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, you should incorporate at least six of these eight goals into your diet:
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Choose a variety of lean protein foods.
- Compare sodium in foods.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Eat some seafood.
- Get Moving
Cancer treatment can tire out your body, but it’s important to get off that couch and get moving! It doesn’t matter how you do it either — whether it’s dancing to Usher’s latest tunes, walking a treadmill, hiking, or joining a weekly Zumba class, find something you enjoy and do it. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week.
Exercise helps to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer’s and several types of cancer. It also helps with depression and anxiety.
- Stop Smoking
According to the American Cancer Society, about half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means each year smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the US More importantly, research shows that smokers have higher rates of wound complications after surgery, including healing after plastic surgery and breast reconstruction.
It’s hard to do, but quitting smoking can improve your health almost immediately. Quitting lowers your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately and your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.
- See Your Doctor
You’re already seeing your doctor to treat your breast cancer, but have you had a general physical or other annual tests such as a colonoscopy or bloodwork? Staying on top of your health will help reduce the risks of getting sick and prevent other illnesses.