Be in the ‘pink’
With October being observed as Breast Cancer Awareness month, we ask Mumbai-based Integrative and Functional Nutritionist Payal Kothari how women can adopt a healthy lifestyle to safeguard themselves
October is globally observed as Breast Cancer Awareness month. To show solidarity and spread awareness, individuals can be seen sporting pink ribbons. More and more women in India are being diagnosed with breast cancer and there is an increasing incidence of the disease among younger women.
But it can be curbed. The body does give us early signs and signals, however, we may miss or ignore the warnings. Payal Kothari, a Mumbai-based integrative and functional nutritionist, spells out simple things that every woman can follow to stay fit, and fight against breast cancer.
Even though 80 per cent of the time, breast cancer is genetic, Kothari says that even one’s lifestyle can have an impact. “Keeping up with a fast changing lifestyle and food habits, women nowadays make some choices that do have an effect on their overall health and can lead to complications and severe illnesses,” she says.
Many here are adopting the drinking and dining out culture but we shouldn’t blindly ape the West. “We are responsible for our own body and must take care of it every single day. Indulging in activities that are harmful will lead to a lot of distress later on no matter how cool you look in the moment,” she says.
Opting for a healthy lifestyle goes a long way. “So clear your mind of the unnecessary clutter and make it free and rewind in the goodness of the nature around you,” she advises.
What we eat plays an important role in keeping us healthy and fit. “Many a time, we choose to eat processed foods without understanding the harmful effects,” she says adding that packaged foods are extremely dangerous to our health because they contain a lot of preservatives.
The best way to live a healthy life is to eat nourishing plant-based food. “One does not have to indulge in fancy vegetables like kale or avocado for the good fat. We have a lot of good Indian counterparts of these super foods like spinach, cabbage and even fibrous fruits,” she says adding that it is important to have a balanced diet. “Of course you can have a cheat meal once in a while as far as you don’t go overboard with it,” she points out.
She is of the opinion that greens can be consumed either raw or boiled because they have nutritive compounds that can keep illnesses at bay. “There is nothing like homecooked food, so consume food that is made at home because that way you know exactly what you’re eating,” she says adding that even though it is convenient ordering food via apps these days, the damage that it can cause is often deadly.
Exercise for wellness
Along with physical wellness, mental wellness plays an important role in a person’s wellbeing. “These days, women face a lot of stress — be it work related, home related or even social stress which results in chronic fatigue. This is not good for overall health,” says Kothari.
The easiest and convenient way to counter this is to exercise. “You don’t have to necessarily go to the gym. You can exercise in the simplest way — go for a walk or a run, do yoga or pranayam. Exercise for at least 45 to 60 minutes every single day. The more the body moves, the good hormones are generated, which sooner or later help to repair and regenerate the wear and tear of the body,” she says.
Look for symptoms
Our body is capable of showing signs and signals when there is something wrong with its functionality, so we must not ignore them.
“Look for these symptoms, listen to the signals and take action immediately. Even if it is a slight discomfort, make it a point to consult your doctor and share all the details, talk out your problems. There are specialists who can help you heal,” says Kothari.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, every alternate day, women no matter what age, should be massaging their breasts and see if they can feel any lump or tenderness. If detected, women must immediately consult their gynaecologist. “It may not be cancer, but such things should be taken extremely seriously. However, as women, we must make others aware of breast cancer so that they can take precautions and keep themselves safe and healthy,” she says adding, “Keep a check on your own body and pay attention to the signals such as sore breasts, bleeding nipples and constant uneasiness with drastic weight changes. Don’t be afraid to talk and discuss these issues with other women and even doctors.”