Body, mind, heart and soul

IN THE Vanderkooi household, everyone learns early to take an active role in their own health and happiness. Central to this is taking care of the body, mind, heart and soul. In coming weeks, Bill will delve into each of these aspects one by one and explore what it means to be healthy in a truly holistic sense. This week: Body.

Did you know that 40% of cancers can be prevented by changes in nutrition and physical activity (not to mention environmental factors (World Cancer Research Fund, summary of 1000’s of studies)?  Additionally, adoption of a healthier lifestyle reduces death from Cancer by 60% (HALE study, 20,000 subjects over 11 years).  Genetic factors only contribute, at most, 15% of death from cancer; therefore we can all learn to protect ourselves.

Our bodies are equipped to detect and keep diseases in check.  For example, each of us has a body designed to fight the process of tumor development.  There are three ways our bodies defend against proliferation of cancer:


  1. Maintaining a powerful immune system/cells
  2. Reducing factors that contribute to inflammation
  3. Reduce the development of new blood vessels


I highly recommend reading the book AntiCancer by David Servan-Schreiber. It is a compelling personal story and full of science-based facts.  My summary of the book came up with the following practical suggestions:


  1. Reduce the amount of sugar you consume
  2. Know your food, where it comes from, how it is grown/raised etc.
  3. Reduce your exposure to chemicals
  4. Eat the following foods- this is a partial list: green tea, omega-3/vit D eggs, olive oil, turmeric, mushrooms, berries, stone fruit, vegetables (3+/day; including dark green varieties like kale & spinach, also garlic is super healthy), nuts, probiotic yogurt, and red wine & dark chocolate from time to time.  Notice all of the foods listed are whole foods and typically contain a natural nutrient that helps our bodies defend itself? These nutrients include natural sources of omega-3, vitamin D, probiotics, antioxidants, polyphenols, etc.


Exercise daily.  This will look different for everyone; walk 50 min, use a treadmill or elliptical, swim, aerobics, etc.  Also, there are documented benefits to relaxation and breathing control, so yoga exercise is also recommended.

The take home summary:

  1. Live in a clean environment
  2. Adopt a healthy diet
  3. Seek emotional balance (more on this when we talk about Heart)
  4. Satisfy the body’s need for physical exertion


If you are looking for more information about cancer prevention through nutrition and physical activity, Inspire Health is an awesome, Vancouver based integrative Cancer Care organization.