Angelina Jolie’s courageous op-ed article in the New York Times, in which she very eloquently expressed her decision to undergo an elective mastectomy in hopes of reducing her risk of breast cancer, not only illuminates breast cancer awareness, but heightens the need for proactive prevention. It's helpful to be mindful of other alternatives to invasive surgery that can help support breast health.
According to Ayurveda, the precursor for breast imbalances is the accumulation of ama, or toxins, in the breast tissue, which, over time become lodged and stagnated. The following are guidelines for reducing toxins and supporting healthy breasts every day.
1. Listen to your body.
Learn to connect intuitively to the signs it may be telling you.
2. Understand your unique constitution (mind/body type), and cultivate a lifestyle that is appropriate for your needs.
This includes eating the right diet, getting enough sleep, stress management, maintaining a balanced daily routine.
3. Avoid wearing underwire bras.
Although they provide support, underwire bras constrict the flow of lymphatic fluids and hinder the free flow of energy, or qi, encouraging stagnation around the breasts.
4. Avoid antiperspirants.
The lymph area around the armpits provides an exit route for unwanted toxins. Antiperspirants, however, prevent toxins from leaving the skin, causing them to hang out and lodge themselves in other areas, such as around the breasts. Look for aluminum-free deodorant instead.
5. Avoid caffeine.
It’s not easy, but avoiding or reducing coffee consumption can greatly reduce your breast cancer risk. Coffee is often heavily sprayed with chemicals and pesticides, which are naturally estrogenic. Add that to the fact that coffee’s dehydrating nature is abysmal for the reproductive system, and it might make you think twice about ordering that next latte!
6. Avoid foods that can create toxins (ama) in the body.
These include processed foods, leftovers, canned foods, packaged foods, frozen foods, and items grown with chemicals, pesticides, or GMOs.
7. Eat organic and local, seasonal food when you can.
The best diet for the health of your body, mind, breasts, and planet is a clean, organic one. Free from pesticides and estrogenic chemicals, eating organically will nourish your breasts from the inside out.
8. Favor a toxin-reducing high-fiber, plant-based diet.
Incorporate a variety of anti-cancer, immune-boosting foods into your daily repertoire, including: whole grains, quinoa, legumes, lentils, broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, cabbage, papaya, pineapple, cooked apples, prunes, pears, figs and purple cabbage.
9. Reduce animal products and saturated fats.
Excess dietary fat and cholesterol have been linked with breast cancer, not to mention the excess hormones and toxins polluted in meat and dairy that is not organic.
10. Include foods that are light, dry, and warming in your daily meals.
These qualities are easily digestible, nourishing, and cleansing. Soups, lentil dhals, sautéed mustard greens with ginger, flatbreads, and quinoa with black beans are all good examples.
11. Include supportive herbs and spices to nourish your breasts.
Dandelion, fennel, fenugreek, and shatavari help to prevent toxin buildup around the breast tissue.
12. Eat soy in moderation.
Soy gets a bad rap, but when eaten in “whole,” easily digestible forms, it has the capacity for lowering the risk of breast cancer because it can prevent the breast tissue from bonding with extra estrogens. Moderation is key, though. Look for soy in fermented products, which are energetically warming, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso, and avoid soy isolate, which is found in soy protein powders and hidden in protein bars.
13. Massage your breasts daily.
Because our breasts are mainly composed of fat tissue, they don’t have the same amount of blood flow circulating as other parts of the body. As a result, the breast tissue can become stagnated and dense … a breeding ground for toxins. Gently massaging your breasts daily with warm castor or sesame oils will help mobilize your lymphatic system, toxins, fats, and excess hormones, and give your breasts a daily dose of love.
14. Dry brush.
One of the most effective ways to increase circulation, flush out toxins, and stimulate the lymphatic system is to gently dry brush your breasts and area around the armpit, before showering, towards the heart.
15. Exercise regularly.
Moderate exercise helps to balance your hormones, build immunity, and cleanse your body of accumulated ama or toxins. Focusing on movements that build upper body strength (think plank and push-up position) will help to increase blow flow to the breasts.
16. Breathe deeply.
Breathing deeply and fully relaxes tension in the body and increases the energy flow between each cell, organ, muscle, and tissue in our body, including our breasts.