Love your Breasts
This article is more for the women, but men, please show and encourage your women!
I would like to encourage you to love your breasts and to feel self-empowered in keeping them healthy. Our breasts are truly amazing. They are not only beautiful, they nourish babies, they are associated with pleasure, sexuality and they are energy centres connected to our heart wisdom. They deserve attention, love, pampering, respect and care.
I will only touch on the breast cancer issue. We know breast cancer rates are rising and it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women (in western countries). We also know that 1 in 6 women experience rape or sexual violence in their lives. That 2/3 of teenage girls are on hormonal birth control. That environmental toxins in our food, cosmetics, water and air, can be found in breast tissue. Lets take a positive approach and look at how to care for our breasts.
Breasts need to move!
Breasts are surrounded by lymphatic tissue, and tight bras restrict the movement of lymphatic fluid through the breasts, across the chest and shoulders. Since lymphatic fluid has no pump in the body, it moves when the body is active. The breasts move naturally as the body exercises and in its daily movement, allowing the lymph fluid to move toxins out of the breasts to be cleared- unless they are constricted by bras. For breast health, go without a bra as much as you are comfortable, and wear a soft bra that doesn’t cut off circulation, when needed.
Breasts need massage.
Breasts have no muscles and are made up of fat tissue, milk ducts, connective tissue, nerves and lymph glands. When we massage our breasts regularly in a gentle, loving manner, we help to reduce a build up of hormones and toxins in the fat tissue by promoting blood and lymph circulation. Also, we learn what our very own breasts feel like, throughout the month. We learn their lumps and bumps, what is normal for us, and what isn’t. Being in touch and familiar with our own breasts is a form of self love and one of the best ways to detect any abnormality, early.
Breasts are energy centres.
There are 6 energy meridians that run through the breasts, and Traditional Chinese Medicine treats breast cancer by addressing energy stagnation and movement of qi. I will tell you a personal story. About 3 years ago, I found a distinct lump in my breast. Cold shock went through me as I made the doctor’s appointment, although an inner voice assured me all was ok. The doctor was reassuring and matter of fact, and sent me off for an ultrasound- this all took a few days and by the time I had the ultrasound the lump was 6 cms across. It was a benign cyst, and I was told it would likely go away by itself.
A couple of weeks later it was still there despite my constant prodding and poking , and I was reading a book on energy medicine which encouraged me to massage the acupressure points (in particular any sore spots) around my breasts. I found some very tender points above and near the breast cyst and I massaged them diligently. The next day, overnight, the 6cm cyst literally went, and never returned. That showed mehow important our lymph drainage system is for our breast health. I now regularly massage any sore spots all around my breasts and across my rib cage and armpits, and I encourage you to do the same.
What foods are good for breasts?
First, what foods are not good? Processed foods full of toxins, pesticides and trans fats. Our bodies store toxins in fat cells in order to prevent them damaging other cells- our breasts are full of fat tissue.
A diet with abundant fresh, raw and lightly cooked fruits and vegetables, either organic or well washed of any pesticide residue, is the best for our breasts. If you eat meat, make it organic or grassfed to keep the toxin levels down. Is dairy ok? The jury is still out on that. Chinese women have low breast cancer rates on a traditional Chinese diet, but when they eat a western diet, their rates match westerners. Some individual women have cured their breast cancer by stopping dairyaltogether. However, differentstudies have found different results. It seems that more fruits, vegetables and fibre, are protective, so if you consume animal products, keep them in moderation and maximise the fruits and vegetables.
One specific food that is recommended for breast health is seaweed. Wakame, kombu, nori, dulse, kelp...these are full of many cancer protective constituents including iodine which tends to be low in the modern diet. Japanese women who consumeseaweeds in their diet daily have low breast cancer rates, and I recommend adding seaweed to your diet daily- it can easily be added to soups, casseroles and smoothies. Seaweeds modify oestrogen and phytooestrogen metabolism in a healthy way in post menopausal women. If you have an autoimmune thyroid condition, I recommend adding seaweed to your diet under the care of a natural medicine practitioner such as myself.
Another food that is associated with breast health in many studies is, believe it or not, soy. A certain hysteria has developed against soy lately but I have been delving into the issue myself and doing my own research, with an open mind- in fact I was leaning against soy myself- but once I examined the evidence for myself, I have not found that this bad press is justified. Most of the negative studies were on animals and in test tubes, not on people. Soy is a traditional food eaten by most Asian women in China, Korea and Japan, and it has been found to be protective against breast cancer, the same as seaweed. Even women in western countries can benefit from soy’s protective effects. I make sure my soy is organic so that it is not GMO, and I do not use concentrated soy proteins, but instead stick with tempeh, tofu, soymilk and edamame.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli also show evidence of breast health and cancer protective properties. Cruciferous vegetables intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer.
In summary, my top tips for breast care are:
Get in touch with your own breasts- touch them, massage them in the shower, know their cycles, love them. Massage the acupressure points around them, especially the sore ones (you don't need to know the specific points, just feel for the tender spots). .
Minimise wearing a tight bra, and preferably go bra free as much as possible, to allow for natural lymph movement to drain toxins.
Use organic and toxin free cosmetics and cleaners.
Eat a wide range of colourful plant foods every day, including cruciferous vegetables. Preferably organic.
Minimise dairy, especially commercial dairy, and avoid vegetable oils, trans fats, preservatives and chemicals in your diet.
Add seaweed to your daily diet.
There are other aspects to breast health such as our psycho-emotional balance, our hormonal balance, our detoxification pathways, and our immune system. Of course, our breast health is connected to the rest of our wellbeing.
As women we have been reared with marketing that constantly tells us that we are not ok exactly as we are. It is our duty to our daughters and to all future generations to defy that message and love our breasts, and our bodies, unconditionally, no matter our age, or the size or shape of our breasts. Our breasts are made for nurturing, physically and energetically, so lets make sure we nurture ourselves first, so that we can nurture others if we choose.
Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer? Breast Health, The Wise Woman Way by Susun Weed.