HEALTH and WELLNESS: Taking preventative measures one bite at a time

By Stacie Smith • Last Updated 12:33 pm on Thursday, June 07, 2012

There are a multitude of cancer diagnoses everyday. Various forms can be linked genetically, others are caused by environmental factors and some are due to certain behaviors and habits. United Lifestyles registered dietitian Renee DeFrang uses her expertise to both work with cancer patients and others who are looking to improve their quality of life and prevent certain illnesses.

DeFrang’s message is clear when it comes to foods that provide a nutritional boost to better help and preventive measures: Fruits and vegetables should comprise a greater portion of meals and even replace less healthy snacks.

“There’s lots of food that give you antioxidants,  the flavonoids that are in fruits and vegetables,” DeFrang said. “Plant-based foods are good for cancer prevention, protein sources from plants like soy beans and that sort of thing,” are among the powerhouse foods, according to DeFrang.

It’s not only important to include healthy food sources but to be mindful of foods that are high in fat and sodium. Both components are linked to health problems. DeFrang also makes a point that not only should individuals be selective in their food choices but in preparation as well and learning to make flavorful dishes without the overuse of salt.

Maintaining a healthy weight is key to staying healthy and is achieved through both proper diet and exercise. It is a solution supported by both DeFrang and Dave Harris, manager of Club Fitness in Greenville.

“Maintaining a healthy weight is huge for cancer prevention,” DeFrang remarked. “Half of all uterine and esophageal cancers, one-fifth to one-third of all colorectal cancers, one-fourth of all kidney cancers, one-fourth of call pancreatic cancers and more than one-fifth post menopausal breast cancers are attributed to excess weight.”

A regular exercise regimen is not only beneficial physically but mentally, as well. Harris works with clients with varying degrees of fitness as well as different health backgrounds. Harris believes that every client should ease into a program of 30 minutes of activity two to five times a week.

“Working out can help with depression and increase energy,” Harris said. “Someone might wake up and not feel like doing anything but if they even just walk around the block, it’s really good.”

Specifically with clients who have survived cancer or those who are battling the disease, exercise may provide a healthy mental relief from the intense focus of the illness and treatment. Harris noted that getting in a workout may allow that client to feel “normal.” Whatever health issue a client may be facing, Harris impressed the importance of being knowledgeable and determining the appropriate activity level for each individual.

The key to successful implementation of a healthier lifestyle, according to both DeFrang and Harris, is making it a life change and not a temporary fix. DeFrang suggests finding an activity that is enjoyable and then setting a specific goal such as completing a 5K run/walk or joining a soccer league to get moving and stay active and rewarding oneself with non-food related rewards, such as a new wardrobe or going out to a movie.

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