Kaytee Boyd’s lifestyle steps for a big health difference
The steps you take as part of a healthy lifestyle, even if they’re small, can add up to a significant difference in preventing and dealing with cancer and some other serious conditions, according to integrative wellness practitioner Kaytee Boyd.
Kaytee has represented New Zealand in various cycling disciplines, holds double degrees in human nutrition and sports science, and her specialities include nutrition and cancer, chronic illnesses, stress and adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance and gut and food allergies. At the Boyd Clinic, she tailors personalised ‘balanced wellness’ programmes.
She has gathered a range of lifestyle tips as a result of her work with those who seek to prevent and deal with cancers like breast and prostate cancer, and the other conditions mentioned above. Among the steps she recommends are assessing household cleaners - how much of them you use and the chemicals in them - eating organic produce, supplementing your diet and considering what you put on your skin.
Watching your weight is a key first step, because excess body weight is associated with breast cancer, while lowering your weight can cut your chance of developing it, Kaytee says. She cites a British study that found of postmenopausal women who had never used hormones after menopause, those who lost 10 kg and kept that weight off cut their risk in half.
Diet and supplements
Kaytee recommends her clients eat organic food, adding that pesticides are known as hormone disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer - and that the toxic metal cadmium has also been associated with breast cancer. Organic foods also have higher levels of antioxidants which can fight cancer, she says.
She also says the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen is worth a look. It’s an annual rating of foods with the most and least pesticide residues. We were surprised to find out about some of the produce items high on the list - like apples, celery and spinach.
Kaytee is a fan of getting natural immune boosters from plants, saying that salvestrols can be beneficial. These are part of a plant’s immune system and are found at higher levels in heritage variety plants than they are in modern, hybridised produce. However, she cautions salvestrols don’t work if pesticides are present in the soil.
Exercise and movement
Alongside what you do and don’t consume, Kaytee stresses the importance of exercise as a way to decrease breast cancer risk by promoting the circulation of lymphatic fluid. She adds that wearing underwire bras for more than 12 hours a day or overnight adds to this risk because it stops the movement of this fluid, and recommends wearing loose bras or camisoles. Vigorous exercise is the most beneficial for reducing risk, Kaytee says, but a brisk walk is also a good contributor.
When it comes to cosmetics and personal care products, Kaytee believes in “being a natural beauty”. She draws attention to parabens, used in many skincare and cosmetic products to prolong their shelf life and prevent microbes growing in them. Parabens, she says, can work against balanced hormone levels. A UN report has highlighted parabens’ potential to disrupt the endocrine system, while they’ve also been linked to cancerous breast tissue. Kaytee suggests thinking about the lipstick you use if it contains parabens, as the average woman will ingest between 1.8 and 4.5 kg of lipstick over her lifetime.
Household cleaners also demand our attention, because they could be a source of hormone disrupting chemicals and potentially increase breast cancer risk, says Kaytee. She recommends choosing cleaning and personal care products that are made using non-toxic formulas. Ecostore chooses the precautionary principle for product formulation, which says that when there’s doubt about the safety of an ingredient, it will find a safer alternative.
Sleep and stress
Managing sleep and stress are also important, Kaytee says, adding she’s had experience with several cancer patients who have also been through major life stressors. She says adults should get at least eight hours’ sleep per night, while teens need at least 10 hours. Downtime is also a big contributor to our wellbeing, she says, and this can be as simple as parking up your car and taking a short stroll. Kaytee’s tips are getting ‘me time’, and making sure you fit in fun, play and belly laughs to keep endorphins flowing.
It’s known as the sunshine vitamin, and Kaytee says it can reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Getting out in the sun for a short time each day can give us the vitamin D boost we need to potentially reduce breast cancer risk (which men can also get), but that’s not the only source. You can also get vitamin D by eating fatty fish, egg yolks and liver. Supplements can also increase your vitamin D intake, Kaytee says.
In addition, she suggests avoiding exposure to extra hormones like estrogen. Estrogen is created by fat, she says, so if people are overweight there will be an increase in estrogen, which has been associated with cancer risk increase. Kaytee suggests considering non-hormonal solutions for contraception and menopause symptoms, as well as considering bio-identical hormone replacement therapy with high mineral, vitamin and nutrient support.
For the blokes
Kaytee also had plenty of tips for men when it comes to maintaining prostate health and being vigilant about prostate cancer risk. As well as getting tested regularly, particularly as risk of the disease increases with age, she says regular exercise and movement are beneficial. That’s because obesity is a major contributor to prostate irritation.
When guys visit the doctor, they should arm themselves with information about their symptoms, any supplements they take and their diet and lifestyle. Some nutrition researchers suggest selenium (a mineral) and vitamin E may help prevent prostate cancer.