In this episode, we focus on an often-overlooked aspect of recovery for breast cancer survivors: metabolic health.
It is well known that metabolic health plays a significant role in the overall well-being of an individual, and it is essential for those who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.
We discuss the intricate relationship between metabolic health and breast cancer, shedding light on why it is essential for survivors to pay attention to their metabolic health as part of their recovery and ongoing wellness journey.
Three key points you don't want to miss in this episode are:
-What a healthy metabolism does
-The relationship between metabolic health and breast cancer
-Strategies to improve metabolic health
A healthy metabolism is vital for overall health and wellness and can significantly impact the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Therefore, it is crucial for survivors to understand the role of metabolic health in their recovery and long-term wellness.
This episode is a must-listen for all breast cancer survivors as it provides invaluable insights into the importance of metabolic health in recovery and long-term wellness. Understanding the relationship between metabolic health and breast cancer and implementing strategies to improve metabolic health are essential steps towards living a healthier and more fulfilling life after breast cancer.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 00:00
You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hello, hello, welcome to episode 273. Better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach.
Laura Lummer 00:41
That's me, Laura Lummer. And I'm so so excited to have you here today on the Tuesday terrain talk episode of Better than before breast cancer, because I have got some great, exciting stuff to share with you. And some really informative things as well, and some inspiration to help you move along the path of being able to support your optimal wellness. All right, are you to dig into this. So two weekends ago, I went down to San Diego, California where I attended the metabolic health symposium. And it was fantastic. It was so informative, so impressive, so inspiring. So encouraging. And just to listen to these panels of intelligent, respected, well known physicians, showing the first day the entire first day was devoted to metabolic health and cancer. And I gotta tell you, it was incredible. And my mentor Nisha winters, gave one of the presentations and hers was just a fascinating presentation on the effects of light on the human body and on our health. How was just fantastic. We're definitely going to dig into that in a future episode. But I was so fortunate that I was able to have lunch during that weekend with nasia. And her sister in law, Janet, who heads the education department of the train advocate programs and training the metabolic doctors. And we got to have lunch together with two other women who are in the advocate training or who have completed the advocate training program, the one that I'm just finishing up anyway, so we all got to sit down, get to have lunch, get to know each other and get to hear Janet in Asia share with us their insights, their vision, what's going on with this movement that's so important to us to this audience. And it's important because it's all about understanding our metabolic health and what we can do to support it. And how in supporting our optimal state of metabolic health benefits us in so many ways by reducing our risk for cancer by just helping us feel better overall. And I'm going to dig into a lot of details on that in just a minute. But first, I want to share with you that during that lunch, Janet and Naisha shared with us that during their European tour over the summer, where they went to multiple conferences and met with other advocates and terrain doctors that are practicing in Europe, that they came to understand that there was no day that was actually devoted to supporting metabolic health. And so they took it on themselves brilliant and ambitious women as they are to establish the very first national metabolic health day. And that's going to take place on October 10 2023. So I'm excited because this is so important. And I'm going to give you so much information between now and then. Because I want you to really grasp the importance of this the importance of understanding metabolic health and what you can do to support your metabolic health, and then why it's important to us as cancer survivors. And to those we love because we don't want them to have to be cancer survivors. So we can support the people we love and taking all of these steps and doing all of these things to be metabolically healthy. And I am a very, very proud sponsor of this day. So they're actually putting together some virtual events. And again, I'll keep you informed on everything that's coming for this national metabolic health day the first one ever, but it will be an ongoing annual event. And I am just thrilled to be able to participate in it. One of the links that I'll provide you in the show notes for this episode is a link to the website for national metabolic health day, because there's some cool things that you can dig into right now. One You can help by donating to support metabolic health day which is just educating people and spreading information. You can become a sponsor of metabolic health say and You can participate in some challenges that have been posted on metabolic health day. These are free, easy to do things that you can challenge yourself to incorporate into your life to support your metabolic health. And I know I use the word free. And I think that's so important because we've got to shift the mentality that integrative health, and metabolic practices are so expensive, and nobody can afford them. And we've got to get back to the basics of understanding that metabolic health is something that you can do every single day and take huge steps towards improving without spending a penny outside of what you normally spend to feed and clothe yourself. Right. And I hopefully, you're learning some of that in this podcast. So I wanted to dig in, I thought, let's really dig in to talk about what this means. What is metabolic health, I think that a lot of people hear the word metabolism. And from that they think, oh, calories in calories out, right metabolism is how fast I burn calories, and whether or not I gain weight, which of course, that's part of your metabolism. But metabolism actually refers to all of the chemical reactions that take place inside of our bodies to maintain our life. That's everything they occur in the cells of our body. And they're essential for converting food to energy, like we talked about calories in calories out for repairing tissues for eliminating waste, and just the overall well being or health status of our body, that is our metabolism. What is happening inside of the body is our metabolism. So there's basically two aspects to metabolism, there's catabolism, which is breaking things down. So when we eat, we kind of be catabolism food, right? We take carbohydrates, and fats and proteins, and we break those molecules that are in food down to things like fatty acids and glucose. And when we do that, we get energy, right food is energy, we're taking energy from the tomato, and we're putting it into our body. And then this energy is used for moving for breathing for maintaining our body temperature for all the things, then there's n ableism, you may have heard the term anabolic steroids why bodybuilders go in, they use anabolic steroids, because anabolism is the process of building things up. So you're taking things like amino acids and building them into proteins, which are long chains, you taking things like glucose and building it into glycogen, the body is doing this, right, it's got these fascinating processes. And so anabolism is what's supporting our growth and repair and the maintenance of our body tissues. So catabolism and anabolism are happening in our body all the time. So metabolism is the whole process of converting, converting the food we eat, into energy and into other things that are required for our body function. So it's a big picture much bigger than just calories in calories out. And why it's a big issue right now is because we are so metabolically unhealthy in the United States and around the globe. So let me give you a few facts to point this out. So 18 million new cancer diagnoses happen globally, every year. 18 million guys, that's crazy. 160.84% higher incidence globally of Alzheimer's disease. From 1990 to 2018. You'll see some of these statistics on the website for metabolic health day. It's estimated that 530 million adults worldwide suffer from type two diabetes, which is a metabolic health disorder. Alzheimer's is becoming known as type three diabetes, it's a metabolic disorder in the brain. It's estimated that almost 18 million lives every year are lost to cardiovascular disease, which right now is the leading cause of death in the United States, and it's just being surpassed by cancer. It's estimated that over 93% of adults in the United States suffer from at least one metabolic health disorder. So why is it important that we have a national metabolic health day? Why is it important that we increase awareness about what metabolic health is and how we can improve it? Why is it important that people like me and doctors who are in these programs with nasia winters are supporting people as terrain specialists as advocates and physicians helping people understand how to support their body because we want to live longer, healthier lives, you know, medicine and advances in medicine. I have found so many ways to make us live longer. But when we live that long life, we want it to be a healthy, independent, vibrant life. We don't want to spend our later years of life our golden years, sitting in recliner chairs, watching Jeopardy with no energy to get up, or the ability to walk around or travel or spend time with loved ones and pursue our passions, right? We want our whole life to be vibrant, and full of joy. So in order to do that, we've got to be able to support and understand how to support our metabolic health. So metabolic health and cancer, let's talk about why that's important. They're very interconnected. So when we have cancer, we know that one of the biggest foundations of anxiety, let's say something that creates a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety for us is the feeling of powerlessness, and the feeling of fear for having this disease that's so powerful, so complicated, and has no real cure, and not having any control over it feeling like we don't have any control over it. And then we go to standard of care treatments, which Thank God, we have them and they save our lives, but are very, very hard on our bodies, and have a major impact on our metabolism. Right. We know the side effects, that things like chemotherapy and the steroids we take during chemotherapy and the drugs that we take because of the nausea, and the nerve damage, and all the things that we go through the hormone treatments that we stay on for years afterwards, and how they affect so many people's blood pressure. And so then we go on medication for blood pressure for high cholesterol as a result of another medication, right, it can be a slippery slope, but one that also has good reasons behind it right. So we've got to understand, we're making these choices, because the result we want is to live cancer free to support our bodies. But at the same time, some of those decisions are working against our metabolism. So we've got to step in and support that metabolism. We've got to step in and manage specific things. So where metabolism and health and cancer are interconnected, are many ways. One of them is obesity. Poor metabolic health is very often associated with obesity, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, right obesity, and these go hand in hand. fat tissue produces things like excess amount of estrogen, which is a risk factor for many cancers. And especially as we know, for those of us that are hormone positive breast cancers, hormone positive estrogen positive progesterone positive, so high levels of these hormones in our body increase our risk of breast and ovarian cancer. And obesity can cause the body to produce more insulin because it's a blood sugar imbalance, right? And insulin is a growth factor. So insulin in the bloodstream can lead to the development and more development and further growth of cancers. Another reason poor metabolic health is interconnected with cancer is that it leads to insulin resistance. So we that's when our body cells either start to become resistant and so I no more insulin like no don't come knocking on my door insulin because I'm not opening up because I don't want any more sugar coming in because I can't take any more. So more of a blood sugar imbalance, right? And so our body doesn't respond well to insulin, our pancreas makes more and more insulin, and it's this vicious cycle until the pancreas burns out, the cells burn out, we've got inflammation, we've got type two diabetes, we've got all kinds of problems going on, that support the growth of cancer. They're interconnected because poor metabolic health is associated with inflammation. And chronic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of cancer. And it causes DNA damage. What do we know for sure, is part of the big puzzle of cancer, damaged genetics, DNA damage. And so inflammation because of this, and using this pathway can promote tumor growth as well. We've got hormone levels like I just touched on with insulin, progesterone, estrogen. So metabolic health affects all the hormones in our body. The sex hormones, the insulin, the estrogen, the testosterone, the hunger hormones. Abnormal hormone levels, are associated with increased risks of all kinds of cancers and when we are not metabolically healthy and our hormones are just all over the place. You can see this big toxic soup that's all tangled together and does not end well for us. It's all so interconnected because of oxidative stress. And that means that we've got, I'm sure you've heard of free radicals, right. So we get free radicals. So toxic things that are coming into our body and cause these free radicals to be in our cells. And then we take antioxidants, right, so we take things like vitamin C, and other antioxidants, healthy oils, and we increase our omega three fats and get good quality fats to have an antioxidant effect and balance that out in our bodies. But oxidative stress, when we have poor metabolic health, we have more free radicals in our system, and that causes DNA damage. Again, we know DNA damage is a key factor in the development of cancer. So this is how they're very much interconnected. Now, I want you to understand that because I want you to also understand on the flip side of that coin, how good metabolic health is interconnected with good outcomes, and how that can support us in both having more effective treatments when we're in treatment for cancer, but supporting our body and protecting us against recurrences, and even helping us as we work towards remission and control of cancer if it's something that we're living with. So good metabolic health can help the body better tolerate side effects of treatments like chemotherapy, radiation surgery. So being metabolically healthy means we have optimal organ function. And that's crucial for processing drugs, every drug we put into our body has to go through our body has to go through our liver has to be processed, has to be changed into all of the things that all the chemical reactions that it's supposed to go through, to have the effectiveness on us that it was intended to have, the better our metabolic health is, the better our metabolism works, the more effective these therapies are, when we take them into our body. I shared a lot of that with you last week on the train, talk about the plan that I had to support my metabolic health while I was going through radiation treatment, okay, so when we have a metabolically healthy state, when we're in a metabolically healthy state, we have better tolerance to treatment. So it's going to break down those normal cells a little less, it's going to have less of a damaging impact. So we're not going to feel as crappy. But it's also going to improve the effectiveness of those treatments. So metabolic health also means that we have good immune function, and you know, strong immune system is crucial for fighting cancer. And for recovering from things like surgery, we have to have strong immunity to fight off infection, we reduce the risk of complications when we have a healthy body when our organs are functioning properly. And when we have a strong immune system, again, good metabolic health, we have poor metabolic health, and we have wacky hormone levels. When we have good metabolic health, we have optimal hormone levels. So good metabolic health helps maintain optimal levels of hormones in the body, again, making cancer treatments more effective, especially if they're working with hormones. Good metabolic health reduces inflammation, so we have lower levels of chronic inflammation in our body. And by keeping those inflammatory levels low. We can help improve treatment outcomes, right? If a lot of inflammation is going to increase cancer, then keeping that manage is going to help us support our bodies, wellness even better, good physical function, right, the better our body works, the more muscle mass we have, the better our digestive system is the healthier microbiome is the way we are physically functioning and moving and participating in life and exercising. This is important for recovery and for quality of life. You know, this is a big deal for us, when we're living with cancer when we're going through cancer treatment, when we're supporting our bodies after cancer treatments so that they stay healthy. We want a good quality of life. And so good physical function is the foundation of that right being able to move and enjoy and be independent. And when we have good metabolic health, it lowers the risk of more treatment induced metabolic complications. As I mentioned a minute ago, metabolic complications mean we're taking cancer treatments that can increase blood sugar, cholesterol and undermine our metabolic health. But when we're focused on that we can reduce risks of those complications, or even reduce the impact of those complications. So metabolic health just supports the body during cancer treatment, tolerates cancer treatment better improves our immune function and reduced risk of complication. It reduces inflammation and it helps us maintain our physical function. Don't we want that? Hell yeah, we want that right. One of the statistics that Nisha shared with us was that only 6.8% of American adults, according to data from studies released in 2022, only 6.8% of American adults have optimal metabolic health. And we need to make that present a lot bigger. And we want to start with us because it means a lovely quality of life. And I shared with you the kind of scientific definition of metabolism and metabolic health a few minutes ago, but I want to share with you Naisha winters definition of metabolic health, because I think it's so beautiful. And she says metabolic health is the symphony of balance within our bodies orchestra, where nutrition, movement and harmony combined to create a masterpiece of vitality and well being and that beautiful, don't we want that we want our bodies to feel good, we want it to work well. And we want to be the conductor of that amazing orchestra. So how do we do that? Where do we start what needs to happen? So much of that stuff is talked about here on this podcast, and I know so many of you are focused on it. One, we're not fighting cancer, right? We're supporting our body's ability to heal, because our body's an amazing healing machine. We're seeking out all the resources, we're dealing with the professionals, we're doing the hard things, were talking to the right doctors. But in addition to that, the time and the energy we put in for ourselves that we don't have to spend extra money on, but we do have to create space for are the things that support our metabolic health. One physical exercise, you know how many doctors who spoke at this metabolic health symposium that said exercise, I mean, if they could have written a prescription, every one of those doctors could have written a prescription and said, This is the number one thing I recommend for metabolic health, it was physical exercise. And we can all do that every day. I love this one description also, because you know, a lot of times when you're reading about exercise in relation to cancer and supporting ourselves, you hear a lot about high intensity interval training. And what that means is doing a specific exercise that's intense increases your heart rate to a certain level for a short period of time. And then you take a rest, and then you do it again, and you increase your heart rate. And so you can do short bursts of these types of workout, and they have a really great effect on our health. Well, most people, I think, when they hear high intensity interval training, get a little nervous, because we think about boot camps. And as soon as you hear boot camp, that doesn't sound easy, that sounds hard. And some of us may not be in great physical shape. Maybe we haven't exercised in a long time, maybe we have an exercise since treatment started and it was difficult to do, maybe we don't have a lot of muscle mass. And so the idea of doing something that is called high intensity interval training is so intimidating, that our brain goes right to oh, I can't do that. And then we don't do anything. But I love this one physician gave this example. Because high intensity is going to vary depending on your state of health. So if you are super physically fit, and you're a lifetime crossfitter and you go out there and flip tractor tires, then high intensity is going to be some pretty dramatic stuff you can do. But if you've led a sedentary life, and you're postmenopausal, maybe you have never exercised in your life, and you don't have a lot of muscle mass, and you don't have a lot of endurance or a lot of cardio pulmonary and cardiovascular endurance, it's hard to catch your breath, your heart rate goes up really fast. As soon as you start moving, then a wall squat is going to be high intensity for you. Right? Holding a plank position on your knees may be high intensity for you. And so we have to think about physical exercise in terms of meeting yourself where you're at. And don't get intimidated by the labels and the names that everybody uses in the shape magazines and the fitness magazines and all of these things we see that we think I'm not there yet. How many times I hear people say I have to do a lot more. When it comes to physical exercise. Let me first get fit before I go to the gym. Right or let me try to work on this before I start that program because we're intimidated, and we doubt ourselves when we feel uncomfortable. And so I want to tell you that when it comes to physical exercise, just start moving because for instance, let me give you another example. So I have worked for the past For several months, maybe it's been a year now, I don't even know, with the University of South Carolina as a coach in their moving forward together program, where I coach breast cancer survivors to begin walking programs, physical exercise, and then increase those exercise programs based on their lifestyle. There's all kinds of factors that we work on together. And some of my proudest moments have been when one of those women that I've been coaching said to me, I went to the grocery store by myself today. Normally, this person felt that they needed support, because they were not physically fit enough to get through the grocery store on their own feeling safe, feeling balanced, feeling like there was enough energy to get through, do the shopping, get through the store and get back to the car on their own. But after she began this walking program, with just five minutes a day, three days a week was the starting point. And this woman was just so determined and so focused, because she wanted to feel better, she wanted to have an independent life. And so she worked from five minutes, three times a week to 20 minutes, four times a week, and she was walking through the grocery stores feeling confident and dependent on her own. That's it. So physical exercise, high intensity interval training, moving, it's something you can do wherever you are at in your house, outside, at a gym at a park, it does not have to cost a lot of money. And it does not have to take a lot of time, you just have to find something you love. And then keep doing it. Okay, physical exercise number one thing you can start doing number two, or should I say one B, because if physical exercise is one A, then what you put in your mouth is one B, make better food choices. Choose whole food, get processed food out of your diet. And do it in baby steps. Don't cut it all out one time, because we want it to be long term and sustainable. Slowly. If you have X amount of sodas in your life, reduce it by one for a week. And then maybe the next week, reduce it by two for the week. Small steps, small awarenesses make big, big changes in your life. You know, we don't go from eating a pie a day, a cake a day, a cupcake a day, or you know, this may be extreme. But you know what I'm saying we don't go from having large amounts of carbohydrates in our diet or large amounts of processed food, which our brain loves, which we love because it tastes delicious. We don't go from there to just cutting it all out in a way that's pleasant, enjoyable or sustainable. So when we're working towards metabolic health, the first thing is awareness. What are you doing now? Be real honest with yourself, what
Laura Lummer 28:01
are you eating? Now? What are you doing now and just start there. And then when you have the awareness of what you're doing, then you can start taking that down a little bit more. I heard somebody say, the other day, I was talking to a woman and she was saying how she had changed her eating habits. And she loved cake. And she said that she went from just eating cake whenever she felt like it. Her first step was paying attention to when she was eating a cake. Right. She says I went from oh wait, how did my plate get empty overanalyze aid that piece of cake to noticing. I'm going to eat a piece of cake. That was literally her first step. And that's huge. That is a step forward. Because then it went from I'm eating a piece of cake to I'm having one piece or two pieces to I finished the whole piece to how do I feel after I eat that piece to I didn't even sit down when I ate that I didn't even get a fork when I ate that. And she just started noticing little tiny habits she heard around food and the way she was feeding her body. And from there, she created some massive changes in her life. So when we talk about eating healthy, no go, Oh God, I know. You don't go from never eating anything green to eating nine to 12 servings of vegetables a day. That's just not how it works. So when we think about metabolic health and supporting metabolic health, remember, start where you're at and be okay with where you're at. and say to yourself, This is where I am. This is where I'd like to be. Here's one small thing I can do today. I can do a wall squat for five seconds today, or three seconds today. Right? I can walk into a room and notice that I'm about to snack on something. That's it little tiny steps. So totally free Nothing new. No big life changes, no gym memberships required. These two things you can do to start supporting your metabolic health. And the third thing, that is one of the most powerful things that we talked so much about and heard so much about at the metabolic symposium, stress management. Chronic stress has a huge effect on our metabolic health, more so than I think most people give it credit for more so than most people recognize or maybe even want to recognize. And let me give you a quick example. I was coaching a woman the other day, who has a lot of gut issues. So she believes that her health problem is whatever's happening in her gut, right, she wants to address the gut immediately. But as we went through the terrain 10 questionnaire, as we evaluated her life and her lifestyle, it was very obvious that stress was the major player in her life. So no matter what this woman did, no matter how healthy she ate, no matter how many servings of fruits and vegetables, if she didn't manage that stress, she was not going to have a healthy gut. Because stress was impacting her sleep. Stress is impacting her digestion, our vagus nerve that goes from our brain straight to our gut, which is why we call our gut the second brain, I mean, they're constantly in communication with each other. Doesn't matter what we do and what we put in ourselves. If we are completely stressed out, not sleeping, worried feeling like we've got a lump in our throat, or a constriction in our chest, or our gut is turning with anxiety all day. So stress management is a major player in metabolic health. So it's a simple thing you can do for stress management, simple, free, not super time consuming. Take a few minutes to breathe, start there, take a few minutes every day to breathe, you wake up and write it down on your calendar. So you know, when I wake up, I brush my teeth, I get my tea, I get my coffee, whatever I do, and I just sit down in quiet with no cell phone, no screen, no noise, no talking five minutes. In brief, that is a starting point. Are there a lot more things you can do? Yes, hell yes. But it's a starting point. And there are more starting points listed on the National metabolic health day website that I'm linking to, as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, that the team over there at the metabolic health institute has put together some beautiful challenges for you that are easy to do, and that anybody can do. So we got to get this idea out of our head of Integrative Health therapies, everything's so expensive, I can't afford it, and start doing these things that are free, accessible, and that you could start doing right now we have so much power that we overlook, because we think we gotta take it to the next level, right? It's got to be this doctor in this place. And these supplements and these treatments, when we haven't even taken care of the foundation, yet. You're in charge of the foundation, the physical movement, that eating the right foods, the managing the stress, three things. And if I could just say three things with like a million tiny details under them, with so much uncomfortable emotion underneath, all of those was so many thoughts around why we do them and why we don't do them and why we should do them and how they should be done the right way and why we can't. So don't think that you don't have a lot to start with. When we just say move your body, eat real food, and manage your stress. Okay. metabolic health depends on those pillars. They are critical. And you can take steps towards that by going to the national metabolic health website, taking a look at these challenges, and incorporate them into your life. Come and find me on Facebook and Instagram as the breast cancer recovery coach and tell me what are you going to try? What challenge for metabolic health day do you think would fit into your life that you would like to try what speaks to you what resonates with you? Because I want to hear and I want to celebrate you and I want to celebrate your wins. And I can't wait to see what gets rolled out for a virtual event here at the metabolic health day. As I said, I am a proud sponsor of this day. I think it's so important not just for us as breast cancer survivors, but for all the people we love as well. And I hope that you click on that link and learn more about metabolic health day because you're already coming here to terrain Tuesday talk so I know that your metabolic health is important to you. And I want to do everything I can to support you in achieving your health goals. All right, come and find me on my website the breast cancer recovery coach.com Because if you like what you hear here in these podcasts, you can join me in the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, where I coach you, where you find a library full of years worth of things that I have created and written and videos to support you in your emotional wellness in your physical wellness and in achieving and creating the kind of life you want to live after breast cancer. All right, friends, thank you for being here and I will talk to you again soon. Until then be good to yourself.