October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—and the pink ribbons are out in full force. Many of us have walked, run, blogged, and gathered in groups large and small to raise money to eradicate this disease that still appears to grab one in eight women every year. While researchers can’t agree on the cause or the cure, they do agree that certain lifestyle changes can quite possibly keep this disease at bay. Here are five things you can do right away—including yoga, of course—to reduce your risk not only for breast cancer but as it turns out, for most diseases.
1. Clean up your diet. Choose plant-based, fiber-rich foods. Minimize (or give up) red meat and dairy products.
2. Get plenty of sleep. Resist that second wind and try going to bed by 10pm to get the most beneficial shut-eye. That’s what ayurvedic practitioners recommend. Disrupted sleep patterns (including working the night shift; waking up at odd hours of the night) may actually increase breast cancer risk.
3. Exercise. Stay active to keep your weight and stress-levels in check. According to Susan Love, MD, author of The Breast Book, says the more you exercise, the greater the benefit. Go for a brisk walk, ride your bike, do something aerobic for 30 minutes a day, at least 4 times a week.
4. Do yoga. A consistent yoga practice can balance your nervous system, improve your circadian rhythms (our sleep/wake cycle), and reduce inflammation in the body, which plays a critical role in the disease.