Fitness by the Fire: Ignoring weight loss and fitness to promote obesity and cancer
by Ron Kennedy • January 17, 2018
We face a very large, and discouraging problem in this country…and it’s only getting worse: The prevalence of overweight and obese people has been increasing worldwide, and unless some changes in behavior occur, we will hit a peak within the next 10-20 years.
The problem gets worse as evidence from research continues to grow and shows us that there is a definite link between obesity and cancer. Being obese puts you at a greater risk for developing at least eight different types of cancer. Yet, the number the most significant deterrent, simply going to the gym several times a week, is being shuffled under the rug so to speak to make room for more medications or trends that convince people to not pursue a fitness and weight loss lifestyle, but instead take what they think is the easy way out.
As a fitness trainer, I have a unique opportunity to help clients make positive changes in their lives, not just to look better or be thinner, but to improve health and lower the risk of getting cancer.
To put it in the simplest terms, there are two main things anyone can do to reduce the cancer risk:
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Presenting myself as a fitness specialist, it is my duty to not only provide an amazing gym performance, but to help our clients eat better and maintain healthier weights and body compositions. I suggest simple, easy-to-follow nutrition guidelines such as:
- Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- When eating protein, stick to the leaner meats and avoid very fatty cuts.
- Avoid alcohol(excessive) and tobacco use.
- Avoid processed food and meats.
- Supplement the diet with healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and fish oil.
- Any increase in physical activity can help to decrease cancer risk.
- Aim for at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week for the best results.
- Perform a combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity, including both low impact cardio and strength training.
- Incorporate physical activity into your everyday routine.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2007-2008 shows that 68 percent of U.S. adults, 20 years old and above are overweight or obese – that’s a 12 percent increase from the results back in 1988-1994. Children and teens are getting bigger as well. To date, one-third of our population is considered overweight or obese. BMI increases have been linked to cancer, a scary fact. Some of the most recent research has found that as BMI goes up by 5 kg/m2, cancer mortality increases by 10 percent.
The pancreas releases insulin when blood sugar levels are getting high and brings them back down. Diabetes occurs when insulin stops working or there isn’t enough of it. Insulin levels have been found to be elevated in obese people, and this has been found to be a contributing factor in the growth of cancer cells. Excess insulin and related hormones have been found to put people at risk for several different types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Regardless of your weekly gym time, there is a way to manage insulin levels with this advice:
- Limit your daily intake of carbohydrates (50-100 grams per day seems to be the optimal guideline).
- Avoid ‘simple’ and processed carbohydrates (pasta, white bread/rice, cookies, baked goods, sodas, etc.).
- Consume moderate amounts of whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potato).
- Increase healthy fat intake (extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, nuts, salmon and fish oil, flax seeds, avocados, etc.).
- Fat cells produce estrogen, and in excessive amounts, estrogen has been linked to breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and others.
- Fat cells produce hormones called adipokines that may stimulate cancerous cell growth.
- Fat cells may also influence the mTOR pathway and AMP-activated protein kinase, both tumor growth regulators.
You can start helping yourself manage your body fat by performing the following four fundamentals:
- Increase physical activity. Add another day of resistance training or 10 more minutes of cardio per session.
- Control caloric intake. Calculate how many calories you should be eating every day, depending on your goal, and follow it consistently.
- Stick to healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, complete proteins, and healthy fats.
- Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours of sleep per night is adequate.