In This Blogpost: Betacarotenes, Bone Health & Breast Cancer
(and a sneak peek from The Pelvic Pain Rehab Coach course)
October is upon us (somehow) which, for me, means all things orange and pink
Orange for the veg I love to cook with this time of year (more of that below!), the changing colour of the leaves and of course pink for breast cancer awareness.
But it is an October like no other that I remember – in this neck of the woods we are six months into living with Covid and the restrictions (and frustrations) that brings. We are entering the dark half of the year in the northern hemisphere, which also means reduced sunlight, although a sunny autumn day is a treasure – if you haven’t been, now is definitely the time to explore the benefits of supplementing with Vitamin D, which is ESSENTIAL for so many dimensions of women’s health.
As the leaves fall off the trees, we see their bare bones and so my thoughts also turn to bone health – and the intersections of all these things.
Eating Well For Bone Health:
Dairy was once the darling of nutrition for bone health, but recent explorations are not so sure ( the Harvard Nurses Study didn’t really show the link between dairy and fracture prevention ) What do we know about nutritional strategies for bone health? Two unlikely bone health allies – prunes and beta carotene rich vegetables like butternut squash emerge as superstars.
As well as being one of my favourite strategies for bowel health and preventing constipation ( a SUPER important aspect of recovery from Breast Cancer treatment), there are now several studies suggest that eating prunes every day could help prevent or even reverse bone loss and osteoporosis. One study, for example, found that subjects who had already experienced substantial bone loss were able to completely reverse these losses by eating prunes every day! Others show that eating prunes can help prevent the bone loss from occurring in the first place…so although these were mouse studies, I think there are some exciting implications here! 100 g of prunes/day seems to be the optimal amount – so using prunes along with sesame seeds and some blueberries – in your smoothies, on your porridge/oatmeal – will not only be good for gut health but brilliant for bone health!
(Now next week, I’ll be talking about movement strategies for bone health but, here’s a teaser:
Onto the Betacarotenes!! It’s been a cold and rainy and stressful few weeks here at ‘celebratemuliebrity’ HQ, so I wanted to seek solace with some comfort food – and if I can find a strategy that tastes good as well as doing me good, I chalk that up as a win!
If you are enrolled in my Breast Cancer Rehab Coach course, you’ll be familiar with this recommendation – in the module on nutrition and lifestyle, I do an interview with Alyssa Tait who talked about the benefits of beta carotene for healing mucosal health, which is often affected by chemotherapy, targeted and endocrine therapies. Beta carotene rich vegetables include one of my seasonal favourites, butternut squash, as well as carrots and pumpkins…and then I came across a 2016 article looking at postmenopausal bone health in Korean women, which showed that β-Carotene intake was positively correlated with the lumbar spine T-score.
In my opinion, one of the ultimate comfort foods is risotto – it’s warm and soft and soothing – but its also quite soothing to make – the chopping and the stirring are quite sedative! And the glorious colour!!!!
But – how to make it healthier?
Looking at the different phytochemical aspects of different ingredients is something I like to nerd out on, (#sorrynotsorry!) so I was thinking about how alliums – onions and garlic – boost our immunity, (tip – chopping garlic and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes before adding to the cooking process really boosts it’s allicin content), celery is full of fibre, the butternut squash is great for the aforementioned beta carotene, good for bones but also skin, mucosal tissue and immunity and fresh rosemary is not only great for antioxidants and polyphenols, it has also been shown to improve memory (even Shakespeare mentioned it – ‘Ah Rosemary! That’s for remembrance!) I went with wonder spice turmeric as well, for its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties (and gorgeous colour! Just don’t forget to add some healthy fats – I used EVOO and some black pepper to make it more bioavailable)
My other top tip is for cooking a butternut squash – don’t bother peeling/ de-seeding before you cook it – just chop it up (not too small or the outside will burn before the inside is cooked) massage it with olive oil (once a physio, always a physio!) and a sprinkle of sea salt. I gave mine about 45mins but it will depend on size – just check it with a fork – if its soft and tender, it is done! It is super easy at that stage to scoop out the seeds, the skin slides off and you can mash it up for the risotto. I also added frozen peas at the end of cooking for a protein boost, and a spritz of lemon juice gives a bit of zing and a bit of Vitamin C…Eat, Enjoy, Relax!!!!
Next week, the focus will be on moving well and exercise prescription for bone health – after menopause/ hysterectomy but ESPECIALLY after breast cancer treatment but in the meantime, would you like a sneak peek at The Female Pelvic Pain Rehab Coach course – yes, it has been delayed, yes it is NEARLY ready…and YES it is HUGE!!!! Not only do I cover menstrual health, endometriosis, pcos, interstitial cystitis/ bladder pain syndrome and vulvar pain, through the lens of education, pain science, the available evidence, manual therapy, exercise prescription and evidence based lifestyle advice…you also get TWO FREE BONUS COURSES!!! There’s a mini course on Female Pelvic Anatomy and Assessment AND…a course on Good Guts and Better Bowels in Women’s Health – which covers functional anatomy, constipation (of course, right?!) IBS, IBD, Incontinence, Anorectal pain drivers…. like I said…HUGE!! Here’s a look at the Female Pelvic Pain Rehab Coach course first – excerpts from the other courses to follow!!!
Until next time…
Onwards & Upwards!