Krupa Parekh-Padia shares seven habits to get active against cancer and live a healthy lifestyle.
Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t only be cultivated after being diagnosed with a chronic disease, it should be maintained throughout your lifespan. Here are seven habits to adopt to live a healthy lifestyle:
1. To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art
My mother says fresh ingredients are the healthiest and to always be mindful of what you eat. I’ll start off with what every health article tells you: increase your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and poultry. Minimise white bread intake and increase whole grain and brown bread (I’ve learned how much South Africans love white bread!) Drink a glass of water before every meal; total fluid intake per day should be between two to three litres. Junk food has no benefit to your body, except feeding emotions, specifically fast foods, sweets, chips, and soft drinks. These contain high amounts of sugar a.k.a bad carbs.
Another food to cut down is red meat. A Harvard study, done in 2012, states that red meat increases chances of cancer and decreases longevity. Lastly, eating six small meals a day versus three large ones helps increase metabolsim, and shrinking your plate size helps control your portions.
2. Train like a beast, look like a beauty
Sure, it’s exhausting just thinking about exerting energy for another hour after work, but exercising doesn’t mean you should train for the Comrades. The American Heart Association’s recommendation is to do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. That’s an average of 10-20 minutes of exercise a day.
Overall benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, improving mental health and well-being, boosting the immune system, and lowering risk for chronic diseases.
3. Take time to do what makes your soul happy
The University of California, Merced conducted a study on the benefits of partaking in leisurely activity and the results were extremely favourable. The study concluded that partaking in hobbies and leisure activities works on physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
4. Distance yourself from negativity
Staying positive is easier said than done. The best way is to eliminate the negative thought and talk. Come to terms with your situation, accept reality is what it is, and then improve the situation. Surround yourself with people who’ll lift you higher and not drag you down. The outcome will be a stronger, healthier mind. My mother introduced me to an amazing motivational author, the late Louise Hay (also a cancer survivor), when I was a young girl. I learned that staying away from negative thoughts is key. Changing the way I thought about things became second nature. For example, a thought such as “It’s too difficult” became “I’m ready for the challenge.”
5. Quit smoking or die trying
Tobacco causes innumerable diseases and health issues which are irreversible. Plain and simple, smoking – whether you smoke, or via second- or third-hand – causes cancer. It also increases the likelihood of developing heart disease and strokes. Although a difficult habit to stop, with many using it as a method to de-stress, there are healthy ways to stop. For example, my dad’s friend started chewing sunflower seeds instead of smoking; since then he has never picked up a cigarette. For more help, visit www.cancer.org
6. Spend time with loved ones
This notion became more important to me as I got older and started my nursing career. Realising how many patients kept saying, “I wish I had…” made me learn to value every minute I had with my family and friends. An article, on a caregiver who interviewed patients in palliative care, changed my outlook forever. Amongst regrets patients had, the one that stands out is not spending time with those we love and cherish the most.
7. Quiet the mind and the soul will speak
Meditation and deep-breathing doesn’t need to be related to religion, but rather for mental and emotional health. A study, done by Dr Linda Carlson of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, on 88 cancer survivors showed how meditation can protect the body after cancer. This study has been presented at a few conferences as meditation is becoming ever more popular. Meditation decreases anxiety, depression and physical symptoms associated with cancer. Most importantly, it allows you to connect with yourself and increases self-awareness.
MEET OUR EXPERT – Krupa Parekh-Padia
Krupa Parekh-Padia was born in South Africa and brought up in USA. She is a California State University, Los Angeles BSc. Nursing graduate. She started off her career at Keck Medical Centre of the University of Southern California where she specialised in surgical oncology. She is now working as your patient navigator at the Netcare Milpark Breast Care Centre of Excellence.