‘It’s not the genes you’re born with but what you do with them that matters.’ is a noteworthy statement made by Dr. Gaynor, who is a famous oncologist and pioneer in the field of integrative oncology.
Inside every single cell of a human body, there is a structure called nucleus which is the control center of the cell. Inside this nucleus, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. These pairs of chromosomes are nothing but long strings of DNA. So, you might be wondering how DNA is responsible for maintaining your good health. Read on to discover all about it.
How Is DNA Responsible For A Healthy State?
DNA carries codes containing all the instructions for our body cells to perform different functions. These codes are made-up of genes. Genetic codes control our different body functions, the growth of our body, and our appearance. Thus, they are responsible for maintaining a healthy state.
What Happens If There Is A Fault In DNA?
A few people inherit certain faulty genes from their parents that put them at a risk of developing certain diseases like cancer.
In some individuals, a few genes of a DNA change the codes containing instructions for a certain functioning or division of cells. This process of change in codes is known as mutations.
The causes of mutation are natural processes in our cells or, sometimes, the cause is external factors, such as tobacco smoking, radiation, ultraviolet rays from the sun, some food substances, chemicals in our environment, and similar other factors. Mutations in genes happen throughout our lives for better adaptation. Usually, cells can repair faults or mutation in their genes on their own. If the damage is very bad, then they may self-destruct themselves or the immune system may recognize the body cells as abnormal and kill them. These are nothing but defense mechanisms of our body, and these defense mechanisms protect us from cancer and various other diseases.
What Happens To DNA In Cancer?
Sometimes, mutations in important genes of a DNA which controls the cell function lead to weird behavior of the cell. In such circumstances, cell no longer understands the instructions of genes and starts to multiply out of control. It doesn’t repair itself properly, and it doesn’t die when it should. This kind of mutation can lead to cancer. So, the fault in a DNA is responsible for cancerous activity in our body.
So, you might be wondering whether we can prevent the faults or mutations in our DNA and what you can do to armor your own DNA to fight cancer, aren’t you? Get answers to your queries by reading further.
Our daily routine, that includes activities right from what we eat during breakfast to at what time we go to bed, could help determine how our DNA behaves in preventing or developing cancer in our body.
People can get cancer even though they do all the right or healthy things throughout their life, but medical researchers tell us that nearly half of all cancers are linked to avoidable factors that we can control. Cancer can strike anybody at any time, but living a healthy life can minimize our risk of developing cancer.
A) Choose Wisely What Are You Eating:
1 Foods To Add To Your Meals:
- Turmeric: Use turmeric in your cooking preparations. Turmeric contains a compound which has anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant effects.
- Nuts: Nuts are rich in selenium, which has anti-cancerous properties and it also helps body cells to repair DNA.
- Garlic: This pungent herb contains allyl sulfur compounds. It stimulates the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer.
- Onions: Onions have powerful antioxidant properties and abnormal cell-growth inhibiting properties, which may protect you against cancer.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables preferably organic. Eat cruciferous veggies preferably boiled ones that have anti-cancerous properties. Drink green tea which is a potent antioxidant.
2 Food To Avoid:
- Avoid deep-fried food and food roasted and baked at high temperature. When food is baked, fried, or roasted at a high temperature, a potential cancer-causing compound has formed a result of the chemical changes that occur in the foods.
- Cut down sugary drinks.
- Avoid damaged oils. Use organic olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, cold-pressed grape seed oil, or butter for high heat cooking.
- Red meat contains a high amount of saturated fat, which is a precursor to cancer, so avoid red meat. Choose poultry or fish instead of beef or pork
- Avoid smoking and alcohol because an excess of it can be carcinogenic.
3 Stick To Your Meal Timings:
- Take your meals at regular intervals.
- Always eat breakfast: Schedule your morning meal shortly after you get up in the morning.
- Don’t wait too late to eat dinner: Take your dinner at least 2 hours before sleep.
B) Keep Moving And Stay Active:
Sit Less, Stand More: Many studies suggest that people who spend most of their day sitting are at higher risk of developing cancer than people who spend less time in a chair. Inactivity can lead to obesity, disturbed metabolism, an increase in the cholesterol level. All these factors can behave like a precursor to cancer. If your job is desk-based, get up and walk around for a few minutes at least once in an hour.
C) Exercise Regularly:
Up to one hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk.
- Waking at least 30-45 mins in a day improves your metabolism and keeps your immune system healthy to fight against cancerous activities in your body.
- Walk or cycle to work, and walk upstairs instead of taking the lift or escalator. Get off the train or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- Try skipping, dancing or opt for any sports activity.
D) Manage Your Mental Health:
Prolonged stress can affect your body in many ways. Managing and taking care of your mental health is essential for maintaining a healthy body and to prevent cancer.
Learn stress coping mechanisms. Try to figure out and look on the bright-side or positive side, as it helps develop your ability to experience happiness in your daily life and help you cope with the stress more effectively.
Having loving relationships with others helps you feel connected and accepted, and it helps promote a more positive mood. Intimate relationships help meet your emotional needs. So, make it a point to reach out to others to develop and nurture positive relationships in your life.
Learn meditation or other techniques to improve your concentration and focus.
E) Stay In Sun 15-20 Mins A Day:
You get almost 90% of your body’s vitamin D directly from the sunlight.
Vitamin D helps in cell maturation and reproduction. Vitamin D deficiency can reduce communication between the cells and this can make the cancer cells to spread. Get at least 15-20 minutes of sun exposure in the early morning to fulfill your daily requirements of vitamin D. But avoid overexposure, as it can cause skin cancer.
F) Know What You’re Being Exposed To:
- Certain chemicals in your home and workplace can significantly increase your risk of developing many types of cancer.
- Always take the time to read labels when choosing products at home and at work. Practice good ventilation, and wear gloves when working with harsh chemicals or cleaners. Learn to identify the carcinogen hazard symbol on the product labels as well.
Dr. Gaynor said that when the people are following a healthy lifestyle, they are sure to feel relaxed due to the meditation, listening to music, chanting, breathing exercises, and various other behavioral therapies. This helps their breathing turn deep and slow, their heart rates to become steady, and their stress hormones decrease, thereby allowing their immune system to function more efficiently, lowering their blood pressure, and releasing natural opiates. All these positive effects help your body to armor your DNA to combat cancer.
So, make sure you follow all above mentioned healthy habits and healthy lifestyle to avoid the risk of developing cancer.
-Written by Dr. Aparna, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah