#5: Breathing

If you are reading this blog post, you are breathing.  If you are breathing, you are fighting cancer.  Whether you have already been diagnosed or not,  your body is fighting.  Our bodies produce cancer cells every single day and with a healthy immune system we can target those cells and get rid of them.  But when we can't, that's when cancer becomes a problem.  

Breathing actually supports our immune health.  How?  Let's break it down...

When we inhale, our lungs fill with fresh oxygen and the diaphragm contracts to move downward toward the belly.  As this happens, the diaphragm actually puts pressure on the large lymphatic vessels in the abdomen and chest, stimulating the otherwise stagnant lymph fluid to circulate through the body.  

Only breathing and body movement can move lymphatic fluid because it doesn't get pumped through our body like blood is pumped through the heart.  So why is lymphatic movement so important? 

The lymphatic system is part of our immune system.  The lymphatic system is in charge of taking the waste products from our bodies' metabolism and moving it through the lymph nodes, where large white blood cells remove toxins.  So lymph nodes act like little filters, which is why when we get a cold our throat can be sore and our bodies ache from fighting the flu.  When the lymph is restricted, detoxification cannot happen efficiently.  

Breathing is one of the best ways to move this fluid so it can get to the lymph node to be cleaned up and put back into circulation.  Just like when we breathe in fresh oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide our bodies are filtering out the bad and bringing in the good.  

In fact, in meditation this is typically something we like to think about.  We can relax knowing that by simply taking a deep breath we are doing our bodies good.

 "Inhale deeply.  Exhale completely.  Inhale the good, fresh air.  Exhale the negative, toxic breath."    

 As a Pilates instructor, I work on breathing quite a bit with my clients.  While exercising, I recommend breathing in and out through the nose.  This will generate more heat in the body and warm up your core.   However, if you are stressed out and need to slow down and chill out, I would suggest inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. 

This has the opposite effect, cooling the body down and allowing you to drop into that relaxed, parasympathetic state.  If you’ve been reading these blog posts from the beginning, you can tell stress has a lot to do with your health.  You’re already doing some of these things.  You just might need to do more of them, or in this case, take a deeper, more full breath. 

We all get caught up in the hustle bustle of today’s world - social media, texting, doing everything and more.   It’s easy to find yourself never really taking a deep breath.  I found myself doing this and my naturopathic doctor told me the tightness in my neck and shoulders could be stemming from this ‘chest’ breathing.  Even my diaphragm was tight, because I was never allowing it to drop, as in when you take a deep belly breath and the diaphragm drops in order to allow your lungs to expand.  Crazy! 

Now I regularly take deep breaths throughout the day, whenever I feel myself getting stressed.  So go on, take a deep inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.  

Inhale deeply.  Exhale completely. 


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#4: Laughing


Go ahead, let out a big HA!  Right now. 

Go ahead, nobody will care.  

How do you feel?  Maybe a sense of relief?  Pushed out all that stale air from your lungs so you could take in more fresh air?  You might have even felt your entire body relax a bit.  Or maybe you even felt your heart rate increase, bringing fresh oxygenated blood to your limbs?

Laughing can do all this and more.  It stimulates your body in a way that is similar to exercise, activating the ‘stress’ response in your body, just like exercise does, which results in a relaxed feeling afterwards.   So no more excuses why you can’t exercise.  You can still laugh and get some of the same benefits!  During a good belly laugh, your organs are stimulated, happy hormones are released from your brain, and fresh oxygenated blood leaves you feeling relaxed, calm and happy.   In short, the entire body is happy and smiling. 


By releasing the stress we hold in our bodies, we are minimizing the burden on our organs and systems.  In particular, the immune system.  In an article found on mayoclinic.org,


“Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.”

So laughter is just another tool we can use to encourage the body to heal.  It leaves the body in a relaxed (parasympathetic) nervous state otherwise known as the "rest and digest" state.  When our bodies are relaxed, our gut is able to break down food, absorb nutrients and excrete toxins.  But, when we are in that "fight or flight" state, activating the sympathetic nervous system, our bodies are focused on the danger at hand, whether that's a predator or stressful situation and forget about the digestion happening in the gut.  We literally have bigger fish to fry.  

When we are unable to completely break down food, conditions like "leaky gut" can occur.  This is when that undigested food causes inflammation in the gut, allowing food particles to escape from the lining of the digestive tract.  What happens next?  The immune system has to kick in, sending white blood cells to the area, increasing inflammation even further.  The immune system takes care of the undigested food and clears it from the body, but it takes a lot of energy to do this.  This is a job meant for the acid and enzymes in the digestive tract.  

There's yet another connection between the gut and the immune system. About 70-80% of our immune system is located in the gut!  All those microbes and bacteria are hard at work getting rid of viruses and other harmful bacteria we ingest through our food.  So when the gut is not happy and smiling you can bet the immune system feels the same way.  And we all know the immune system is the gatekeeper against cancer. If the immune system can't do it's job efficiently, cancer can walk right in through the front door. 

Laughter is just one more way you can support your body so it can function properly.  In the world of holistic health and nutrition, we take everything into account and how it effects the body.  Nothing happens in isolation.   So let's support our bodies with nutrient dense foods, invigorate our minds with knowledge, and uplift our spirits with laughter that we can feel in our bellies. 

If you couldn't produce a laugh for yourself earlier, here’s a few one-liners to get you going…


What’s Forrest Gump’s password?



So two snare drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff…



What does a nosy pepper do?




Feel better?  Thought so.  Keep it up, and find even more ways to laugh every single day!   Share your own jokes below to spread the laughter!  Follow us on social media for more one-liners releasing this week!

Instagram: @cornucopiabox

Facebook: Cornucopiabox.com 


Missed #1, 2, and 3? CLICK HERE to get caught up!


Effect of Laughter on Stress Response and Natural Killer Cell Activity

Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Laughter Therapy

Effects of Laughter Therapy on Cancer Patients


Celebrities Using Humor to Deal with Breast Cancer

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#3: Drinking Coffee

Yes, the debate around coffee has been going on for years.  Is it healthy? Is it dehydrating? Is it energizing? Is it the only way to have a bowel movement in the morning?  Is it the lesser of another evil?  All of these things might be true.   But, not all coffee is created equal so keep reading and you'll soon be brewing the healthiest and most delicious cup of coffee that you can feel great about!

Coffee is American’s #1 source of antioxidants. 

Antioxidants are cancer fighting powerhouses that blast out free radicals from the body.  Free radicals are what cause inflammation, or ‘oxidization”, which after years can increase your cancer risk.  Recently, several studies have linked moderate coffee consumption to a lower risk of colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancer.   So, the more antioxidants you consume, the better protection you will have against that nasty disease.  

Coffee also contains other beneficial nutrients such as polyphenols, which can also be found in spinach, tea, and red wine.  In your morning cup of joe, you will also benefit from some micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and niacin.  Lots to feel good about!  But like I said before, not all coffee is created equal.  So what should you look for?

coffee beans
Like most things, fresher is always better and the same goes for coffee beans.  Not only for better flavor, but the antioxidant count will be much higher in coffee beans that have been freshly roasted than beans that were roasted a year ago or even just months ago.  So when possible, get your beans from a local roaster each week to optimize your coffee's cancer fighting properties!

But let's be real.  Polyphenols and anti-oxidants are probably not the main reason you drink coffee every morning.  Most Americans are looking for that glorious boost of energy that gets our day started off right! CAFFEINE!!  And after a night with one too many glasses of wine, we sure do need any boost we can get!  

But caffeine can be detrimental to some.  I have to stay away from it because I get migraine headaches from caffeine withdrawal.  I also have fibrocystic breasts and caffeine makes that worse.  Stress is also something I am learning to manage and coffee certainly doesn't help me in that aspect.  When our bodies are stressed, cortisol is produced and when we are stressed chronically, the body’s hormones can become imbalanced. Cue adrenal fatigue.  Cue thyroid problems.  So, for me, coffee is the catalyst to all of that. After many years of falling in and out of regular coffee consumption I have slowly come to the realization, no matter how much I love the aroma, the taste, the ritual, the CULTure of coffee, it just doesn't serve my body in a positive way (but I'll tell you what does in a minute).  

Does this mean decaffeinated coffee is the better choice? Unfortunately, no.  Decaf coffee has been put through a process that removes most of the caffeine from the coffee bean.  During this process, a chemical called trichloroethylene is used.  This chemical is a solvent and is typically used in dry cleaning.  Most likely this is not something you want coming into contact with your food.  And I think we can all agree most decaf coffee isn't worth drinking anyways, unless you are having a little coffee with your milk and sugar.  

So, if caffeine is something you'd like to limit, try a cappuccino or latte instead, preferably with a dairy-free milk (I prefer rice or oat milk).  Believe it or not, a shot of espresso contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee yet still has all the beneficial nutrients of coffee discussed above.  While visiting Costa Rica, our knowledgeable barista explained this to us...When a shot of espresso is made, it takes only about 20 seconds for the hot water to be pushed through the grinds creating that dark, delicious brew with that velvety, creamy head.  However, with traditional drip coffee it takes much longer; the beans are subjected to a longer brew time which means there is more time for caffeine to be released from the grinds.  A single shot of espresso typically contains 58 to 76 milligrams of caffeine while a single cup of drip coffee can contain anywhere between 72 and 130 milligrams of caffeine! 

Like any drug, caffeine should be used carefully and with caution.  Drinking 5+ cups of coffee everyday is not the best idea for several reasons.  1. Dehydration 2. Anxiety 3. Heartburn 4. Added stress (leading to possible hormonal imbalances) 5. Sleep disorders (leading to mood disorders and overeating) The list could go on.   BUT - with moderation comes lots of benefits.  Choose quality over quantity.  One or two really good cups of coffee in the morning, with a balanced diet and proper hydration, will most likely not cause any of those nasty things listed above and will allow you to benefit fully from all the good things coffee can offer.  If you're prone to heartburn, try drinking cold-brewed coffee which is much less acidic than regular, hot coffee.  And if you're having trouble sleeping, limit your coffee habit to the morning, without letting it sneak into the afternoon or evening.  Caffeine takes at least 8 hours to clear you body, so you don't want to drink it too close to bedtime.  

Coffee beans are very similar to the produce you buy at the grocery store and should be treated the same way.  Buy fresh, buy often, and buy organic.  Coffee beans, like other produce, has been treated with the same pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals that was used on your salad.  Then, those beans are roasted.  Further changing the chemical makeup of those chemicals (probably not a good thing) and then we take the grinds, run hot water through them, and drink the residue.  Even if you aren't into organic foods, as a coffee connoisseur, you probably don't want any notes of pesticides in your morning brew.  Moral of the story - always buy organic and enjoy a better, healthier cup of coffee.  

But if you're like me and coffee just doesn't sit right with you, try a matcha green tea latte instead.  As you probably know, green tea is likely the most health supportive drink in the world.  Just like coffee, it offers anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and plenty of trace minerals.  It also offers a good amount of caffeine, but usually without the jittery, anxious feeling.  I can tell my body just prefers green tea, and my tastebuds prefer matcha green tea with almond, coconut, or rice milk.  Delicious!  Check out our Instagram page for my absolute favorite matcha green tea harvested from leaves in Japan.  Follow us @cornucopiabox 

To brew the best cup of joe: 

- Buy freshly roasted beans daily or weekly
- Buy organic coffee beans
- Try espresso for less caffeine
- Don't drink coffee after 12pm
- Enjoy!


coffee cup 

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#2: Brushing Your Teeth

 Any dentist will tell you, oral health is a big indicator of overall health.  By simply brushing your teeth everyday (hopefully twice a day), you are removing bacteria, plaque, and toxins from your mouth that could otherwise cause disease.  

Specifically, in a study supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the oral bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum has been linked to colorectal cancer.  This bacteria has a strong ability to attach to the plaque in your mouth thus promoting gum disease and infections of the head, neck, chest, lung, liver, and abdomen. So keep up the good work against those nasty toxins hanging out between your teeth, and keep on brushing!  And maybe you'll want to add a couple extra minutes to your routine...


What more can you do?

Flossing is a huge part of oral health.  Try to get in the habit of flossing, and if you fall off the wagon it’s OK - just get right back on.   Flossing at least during the week is a huge improvement.  Set a goal for yourself that is reasonable and attainable.  

Also, mouthwash can provide a quick way to flush out any leftover bacteria after brushing by using a natural, anti-bacterial mouthwash.  Typically, when a patient who is undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation their health care provider recommends using Biotène(“#1 Dentist Recommended brand) as a mouth rinse.  Biotène happens to contain Propylene Glycol, an ingredient also found in anti-freeze.

At Cornucopia, we will help you to eliminate toxins you come into contact with in everyday products and guide you to products that are organic, non-toxic and health-promoting.  Our favorite mouth rinse is Nature’s Brands Organic Mouthwash Concentrate with essential oils.  you can find this product in "The Nourish Package".  This mouthwash was designed to include essential oils that are excellent for oral health such as peppermint, fennel, thyme, cinnamon and clove.   Fennel, thyme and clove are anti-bacterial while peppermint freshens the breath.  Clove works as a natural analgesic, giving relief to canker sores.  Cinnamon is also a breath freshener which contains lots of anti-oxidants.  Of course, all essential oils here are organic, hexane free, cold pressed, non-refined and non-deodorized.  

Why use essential oils? Essential oil mouth rinses have been proven to lower gingivitis and plaque more than the conventional mouthwash, when added to a  brushing and flossing regimen (see links to research below).  This particular product also does not include alcohol, which can be irritating to sensitive, dry mouths.

Ready to send a gift to your loved one fighting cancer?  Send The Nourish Package  


Patients undergoing chemo treatment often suffer from dry mouth.
Other recommendations to relieve dry mouth include:

chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate salivary flow;

⁃sucking on ice chips;

⁃sipping water with meals to aid in chewing and swallowing food;

⁃using alcohol-free mouth rinse;

⁃avoiding carbonated drinks (like soda), caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol;

⁃using a lanolin-based lip balm to soothe cracked or dry lips.










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#1: Sleeping


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