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Mourning Angelina Jolie’s Double Masectomy: 12 Tips for Breast Health

Every day I check my Yahoo email and I briefly scan the featured Yahoo News stories, mostly ignoring the paparazzi headlines  and trying not to get too distracted. Today I was stunned upon reading the latest about Angelina Jolie. After discovering that she had the “faulty” breast cancer gene, she opted for a double mastectomy. 
Yikes! I remember when Christina Applegate did this a few years back and it shocked me then. However, Christina had already discovered cancer and was scheduled for chemo and radiation. I guess what’s really upsetting to me is this concept of “preventive mastectomy. ” Needing to have one is already hard enough.  But getting one just because you have a certain gene? I feel that this “short-cut” approach is but a bandage of deeper symptoms that we are experiencing as an unhealthy society. 
Number one, I respect every woman’s right to make their own decisions about what they want to do to their bodies. However, this story really affected me and rattled me to the core about my own beliefs. I was extremely saddened that someone so famous, with so much influence, so much money and access to the best medical treatment would choose this route of going under the knife. 
I am a nutrition educator and I help women feel better in their own bodies, take charge of their health and start making day to day decisions that will impact their overall wellbeing. I am a firm believer in Nutrigenomics (the study of how nutrition impacts genetics), and that having a “faulty” gene is in no way a death sentence. In other words, Nurture and Nature both play a role in overall health. I would like to believe that the daily choices that we make have a greater impact than simply our genetics. I realize that there are plenty of super healthy people that end up suffering from diseases nevertheless.  Such is the way of the Universe sometimes and no one can explain that. I feel that Proactive health means eating the right foods for one’s Metabolic Type,  spending time with healthy people, and doing the things that we love. I don’t see how self mutilation falls into this Proactive health category.
I really hope I’m not offending anyone but realize that with such a delicate topic as this, many people are going to be. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Meanwhile, here are 12 tips to keep breasts healthy (and this goes for men too!)
  1. Minimize refined sugar. Sugar acidifies your body and cancer thrives in an acidic environment.
  2. Limit alcohol to 5 oz. of wine or beer daily or 1 oz. hard alcohol. Alcohol increases estrogen levels and this may lead to estrogenic types of cancer.
  3. Limit coffee to 8 oz. daily. Caffeine increases the formation of cysts (lumps) in the breasts. 
  4. Avoid anything that has hydrogenated oil in it, even if the label claims 0 grams trans fats! Hydrogenated oils clog cell membranes, prevent the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of wastes. 
  5. Avoid canned foods which are lined with Bisphenol A, an estrogen like compound. Acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes are more likely to leach this out of the cans. 
  6. Choose meat and dairy products that are hormone free. The hormones given to animals can disrupt our own hormonal balance. 
  7. Care for your liver and colon. If these are healthy, we can maintain hormonal balance more efficiently. Include warm lemon water on a daily basis, first thing in the morning. This will stimulate the liver, and induce a bowel movement. Limonene, found in lemon and orange peels prevents breast cancer by blocking cancer cells’ utilization of protein.
  8. Eat cruciferous veggies such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, and Cabbage. These are powerful cancer fighting vegetables that contain “indoles” to supercharge detoxification.
  9. Eat red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables. The pigments in these protect DNA from free radicals and slows the mutation of cancerous cells. 
  10. Eat Selenium rich foods such as Brazil nuts, onions and garlic. Selenium kills cancer cells before they can spread! 
  11. Enjoy Tangerines. Tangeretin, the plant chemical found in tangerines is 250 times more powerful than genistein (in soy) at squelching breast cancer cells. 
  12. Ensure adequate sleep. Our bodies only make melatonin in the dark when we are asleep. Melatonin is a super antioxidant and free radical scavenger. 
I have many more tips and I’m happy to share. Please email me for more information:

My final thought is that in a world where everything is interconnected, we can’t just cut off and discard the pieces that we don’t want. Thinking in this mechanistic sort of model keeps us from evolving and being truly healthy. Addressing all causes and catalysts of disease is where I’d like to see society’s current mindset move towards.  Rather than dissecting, cutting, & discarding, I’d like us to assimilate, and make changes that connect us further to our health, other beings and our environment. Rather than taking a pill to bandage symptoms or to remove a body part that may become “problematic” let’s take full inventories of our lives.

What are we consuming and putting on our skin on a daily basis? Are we spending our time with people in places that nourish us or drain us? While addressing issues like these is more complex and takes more time in certain cases, I believe that this is the path to true health and happiness. 
Yours in Health, 
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

When Supplements Cause More Harm Than Good

I’m generally not one to get easily annoyed. However, there are a couple of things that really rattle me. One is when products make false or misleading health claims. Another is that silly pink ribbon breast cancer campaign. Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m all about breast cancer awareness and prevention. It’s just that many of the products that boast the pink ribbon logo, actually contain ingredients in them that cause breast cancer! 

So the other day, a product caught my eye at the pharmacy: Viactiv Calcium Caramel Flavored Chews. Now with Vitamin D! And splashed across the top of the box in bright pink, reminiscent of the pink ribbon campaign, an announcement: “News! Emerging research on breast health.” 
To the average consumer, this box of candy could seem like a wonderful and delicious way to take a Calcium supplement. Most women are advised to take at least 500 mg by their doctors. And, well…the extra Vitamin D can’t hurt! Especially since the makers claims that “Vitamin D may support breast health.” 
Turn the box around to read the fine print and the ingredients: sugar, calcium carbonate, corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut oil, sweetened condensed milk, caramel color, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, yellow #6. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 
First of all, sugar feeds cancer cells. Corn syrup is even worse. The corn has probably been genetically modified, since it’s not organic. Same with the soy.  Hydrogenated oils cause heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and possibly cancer. Calcium carbonate is the cheapest, least easily absorbed form of calcium. Artificial flavors and yellow # 6 are some more toxins that your poor liver is going to have to filter out, putting an additional strain on your body. 
Yes, Vitamin D, which acts like a hormone in your body, does support breast health among many other things. But please, please, please, don’t be fooled by these junk food pushers selling their “healthy candy.” 
If you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed with your supplements and aren’t sure what to take, I’m offering a special through the month of October. I will review a week’s worth of your food intake, do a nutritional analysis, and inventory of all your supplements for just $49. I am not a vitamin pusher because I believe that it all has to start with a healthy diet. But there is a time and a place for them and  I’m happy to help you to sort that out. 
Yours in Health,
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Radiation Update: Antioxidants over Iodine

Designs for Health, one of my favorite nutraceutical companies, hosted an educational call on the current radiation situation and here’s what I gleaned from it. If we are threated by radiation, Radioactive Iodine is the least of our worries. The stampede should be for Antioxidants rather than for Potassium Iodine. And the best thing that we can do today is to keep stress levels low, avoid panic, and continue to eat a whole foods diet, free of preservatives and toxins.

Radiation essentially transforms the water in our bodies into highly reactive hydroxyl radicals, the most damaging of all free radicals. These particles can then react with our own DNA, potentially causing all types of cancers throughout the whole body. Radiation is made up of a slew of nasty particles including Krypton, Plutonium, Cesium, Uranium, and other mixed oxides. Some of these have a very long lasting half life of up to one year.

Radioactive Iodine is just one part of the horrendous concoction.  It specifically targets the thyroid and causes thyroid cancer, but it has a very short half life, meaning that it dissipates quickly. Previous incidents such as Chernobyl show that adults have virtually no risk. It was mostly the children that were stricken. Most of their exposure came from drinking milk from cows that had eaten radioactive grass.

It is true that if you are eating a diet that is high in iodine, you will be less likely to absorb the radioactive iodine. Luckily for the Japanese, their traditional diet, rich in sea vegetables and fish is naturally rich in iodine.

Because Radioactive Iodine has such a short half life, it is highly unlikely that here in California we will be exposed to radiation drifting in from the Japanese incident. However, the likelihood of an earthquake, a possible tsunami, and impending accidents to our own nuclear reactors is a very real threat and we should be prepared.

In case of an emergency, right at the time of exposure or within 2-4 hours of an incident, adults should take 130 mg of Potassium Iodine. Infants under 1 year of age should take 65 mg. This will block up to 97% of the absorption of Radioactive Iodine. It should be understood that this is only protecting the thyroid. This will have no effect on all the other kinds of other cancers potentially caused from the radiation. While up to 30 mg of Iodine has been proven effective, the higher dose will ensure blood levels to remain high for a few weeks. It is not necessary to take that much Iodine ahead of time and it can in fact be dangerous to your health!  Side effects include anxiety, heart palpitations, hyperthyroidism, and even death.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from the other, more dangerous elements of radiation? Quite simply, we need to ensure that we are eating an antioxidant rich whole foods diet and that we are optimally detoxifying. Herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, and panax ginseng reduce radiation induced cell death. Aloe Vera protects the skin and digestive tract from radiation exposure, as does ginger.

Melatonin protects against cellular damage. Our bodies do not make melatonin unless we get enough sleep in complete darkness. We make melatonin ourselves from serotonin which we make from amino acids (specifially l-tryptophan and 5-HTP) and Vitamin B6. Amino acids come from protein foods, so adequate protein intake is key. Glutathione is one of our body’s premier antioxidants. We make it ourselves from an amino acid called L-cysteine. Whey protein powder, as long as it’s been low heat processed and isn’t denatured, is a wonderful source of L-cysteine.

Meanwhile, it makes sense to supplement with smaller amounts of iodine over time to ensure that your thyroid receptors are full. Many of us are already iodine deficient as a result of drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water and eating refined flour products that contain bromides. This can lead to a sluggish thyroid and symptoms such as extreme fatigue and inability to lose weight. Contact me ( to order an iodine testing kit to determine what your current levels are and how much you need to supplement with.

It also makes sense to supplement with antioxidants since not all of us can eat 100% organic and fresh every day. I am a big fan of Alpha Lipoic Acid which recycles Vitamins C & E in your body. Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble so it can positively benefit all of your body’s tissues.

If you are curious about radiation levels in your area, the Environmental Protection Agency is tracking it for us on their website, radnet. 

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been eating a healthy diet, perhaps this is the wake up call you need to start making some positive changes in your life. One of the most beautiful things about healthful eating is that by expanding your own consciousness and making healthier choices, you can have a positive impact on the health of the planet and the state of the world, one bite at a time. For a free 30 minute phone consultation, call me at 510-421-3214. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Yours in Health,
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Protect Yourself From Radiation

The catastrophe that’s hit Japan is mindblowing and has affected me on a deep emotional level. Our home, Planet Earth, is not as vast as we once believed it to be and what happens far away can impact us on so many levels. We are all interconnected in this web of life.

Today, the headlines are announcing a nuclear disaster in Japan that is almost as bad as Chernobyl. Here in California, we are threatened with the pollution that could make it’s way across the Pacific.

Here are my recommendations, (gleaned from Drs. Ann Louise Gittleman and Jon Barron) to protect yourself from radiation:

Eat sea vegetables daily.  Sea vegetables are rich in sodium alginate which chelates radiation out of your system. You can use Nori seaweed sheets to wrap sandwiches in instead of bread. You can tear nori sheets into pieces and mix them into salad, soups, and rice. You can find dulse and kelp flakes in your local health food store and sprinkle them liberally onto your food. Drink bladderwrack tea. You can boil your grains with strips of Kombu seaweed. Use hijiki and wakame to make salads. (You can skip the sugar and use agave nectar instead in the linked seaweed salad recipes).

Boost your beta carotenes:  This will help to keep your immune system strong and keep your mucous membranes lubricated. Eat carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and any and all dark leafy vegetables.

Protect your DNA with nucleotide rich foods: Nucleotides protect DNA integrity. Eat sardines, anchovies, and/or sprinkle nutritional yeast (at least 2 Tbsp) on your foods every day.

Supplements: If you are low on iodine, your thyroid will pick up the radioactive iodine that is being released into the atmosphere. Preload your thyroid with good iodine so that your are less likely to absorb the radioactive kind. If you have a healthy thyroid and are not taking medication, Take the iodine supplement called Iodoral, at least 125 mg daily with food. I also recommend Russian Choice Immune, a probiotic supplement that was especially designed for Chernobyl survivors.

Stay strong and positive and try to remain in a state of gratitude rather than one of panic.

Your in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Ten Tips For Cancer Prevention

This last Sunday, I participated group hike and fundraiser to benefit the Breast Cancer Fund . What an uplifting experience! It was a gorgeous day. The coastal fog burned off by mid morning and the views all up and down Mount Tamalpais were inspirational.

Foggy Beginning No Carb Loading for me!
It’s Wrong for my Metabolic Type….

 Sunny Ascent Relief Under Shady Redwoods…


From the Top! All Downhill From Here The Finish Line!

I support the Breast Cancer Fund because they are dedicated to education around cancer prevention. There are many environmental causes of breast cancer and we need to know what they are so that we can make healthier choices!

My big take-away was that plastics are evil. For food storage I use pyrex and stainless steel. However, the bottles that I have been filling with reverse osmosis water contain hormone disrupting phthalates (BPA). Check the codes on your plastic items to see if the plastic you’re using is safe or not. Here are the top 10 tips I learned while trekking on Sunday:

1). Know Your Plastics. Avoid clear, shatter proof plastic that contains BPA (usually code 7). This was  the code on the bottom of my water jug. Safer plastics are coded 1, 2, 4, and 5.

2). Minimize canned foods. The lining inside of cans is coated with BPA (bisphenol A) which leaches into the food. Be especially careful with acidic foods such as tomatoes and pineapple which leach even more! Yes, this means coconut milk too. Thankfully, there is now coconut milk in cartons available for purchase.

3). Never microwave in plastic! (Try to minimize microwaving in general; plants watered with microwaved water will always die)

4). Use non-toxic cleaning products. You can use baking soda and vinegar for most cleaning jobs.

5). Eat hormone free meat and dairy. If the animal is given hormones and you eat it, you get hormones too!

6). Avoid “fragrance.” Those Glade type plug ins are bad news. Use essential oils instead which are non toxic.

7). Avoid the following hormone disrupting ingredients: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, parabens, PEG, anything that ends with -eth, triclosan, triclocarban, triethanolamine (TEA), hydroquinone, and oxybenzone.

8). Avoid anti-aging creams that contain lactic, glycolic, AHA, or BHA acids.

9). Avoid slathering on sunscreen. Yep, that’s right. Most sunscreens contain cancer causing ingredients. Pretty ironic. Plus, making Vitamin D from the sun is one of the easiest and best cancer prevention strategies there is and sunscreen prevents you from Vitamin D synthesis. Do limit exposure and  cover up during peak sun hours. Find a safer sunblock at:

10). Use a headset when talking on your cell phone. Or text instead of calling. The EMF’s that radiate from cell phones are creating health risks that are not yet well understood and may be causing hormonal disruptions. 

October is Breast Cancer Prevention Month. Please pass this information on to a friend…

Yours in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

What about wine?

When my mom came back from her trip to Paris, France in February she told me that all the newspapers over there were claiming that as little as one alcoholic beverage daily increases your risk of cancer. I was floored! What about the French Paradox? I have always felt that a little of anything (except for trans fats!) in moderation could be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. And what about the heart benefits from drinking a little wine with dinner? 
Then the same story appeared in the S.F. Chronicle. Even Kaiser Permanente is promoting this new information. A major study was done and the bottom line was that “there doesn’t seem to be a threshold at which alcohol consumption is safe.” As far as the risk for cancer, it would appear that even one drink daily might be too much, especially in regards to breast cancer. 
Here’s my take on this issue. We are assaulted with more toxic substance than ever before and our systems are overloaded due to pesticides, plastics, petroleum products, self-care products, hormones in meats and dairy, chemicals in the water, etc. etc. Alcohol, despite its heart healthy qualities, is yet another toxin that the liver must eliminate from the bloodstream. Alcohol has an immediate intoxicating effect, so the liver is going to focus on getting rid of the alcohol first before doing anything else. Most breast cancers these days are from estrogen dominance. Excess estrogen is eliminated through the liver. If the liver is toxic (or busy dealing with the alcohol), it will be unable to handle the toxic load. 
On top of all of that, throw in the fact that our natural circadian rhythms are out of whack from artificial lighting, and we’re not sleeping enough–it’s a recipe for disease. 
I would love to see that same study done where everyone :
  • supplemented with milk thistle to support the liver
  • ate ate least 7-10 servings of vegetables daily including plenty of crucifers like broccoli that support detoxification
  • emphasized organic foods 
  • drank pure water 
  • ate at least 35 grams of fiber daily with plenty of flax seed lignans to help detoxify excess estrogen
  • got at least 8 hours of sleep every night
  • exercised daily
  • practiced some form of stress relief like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization
  • only drank organic, pesticide free wine
What I’m trying to say is that with any health issue there are a zillion pieces to the puzzle. So I’m not going to let this “news” item stress me out and neither should you. It is an eye opener however, that we’ve got to change our overall lifestyles if we’re going to choose to enjoy a little wine here and there. So remember, if you can choose organic wine. Limit your consumption to one drink if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man (so unfair!). Drink at least two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage. And if you feel you need a little extra protection, take Intox by Vitamin Research or at the very least, get yourself some standardized milk thistle.