Here's something that you might not have put a ton of thought into before—what are the signs that your breasts are healthy? While most of us know that giving ourselves self-breast exams (in order to check for any abnormal lumps) is important, what should we be factoring in beyond that? Well, according to many health experts, our breasts are in good shape if 1) the skin that covers our breasts is, for the most part, even-toned and the same texture; 2) they are warm in temperature (not hot but warm); 3) there is no discharge that's coming from our nipples (unless we're pregnant); 4) outside of pregnancy and PMS, they aren't tender; 5) the lymph nodes under our armpits aren't swollen and 6) if our breasts do have natural lumps in them (which is fairly common), they haven't changed in size.
In a nutshell, if your breasts are indicating something different from any of this, it's important to make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Aside from the fact that we, as Black women, have the highest mortality rate when it comes to breast cancer, our breasts are simply something that we shouldn't take for granted.They require tender loving care, just like any other part of our body does. One way to nurture both of your "girls" is to eat the kinds of foods that are proven to aid in keeping them toned and breast cancer-free. If you're interested in being proactive about the health and well-being of your breasts, here are 10 foods that you should consume on a regular basis.
1. Allium Veggies
If you've got no clue what allium vegetables are, I'll break it down real quick. Allium is the Latin word for "garlic" and allium veggies consist of foods that have a strong amount of sulfur in them that are used for regular consumption as well as medicinal purposes. Some foods that fall into this category include garlic (of course), chives, leeks, scallions, shallots and onions. Allium veggies are good for your overall health and well-being because the sulfur that's in them can do everything to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and protect your heart to reduce bodily inflammation (thanks to the quercetin that's in them) and control your blood sugar levels. Since sulfur also contains powerful cancer-fighting properties, that's the main reason why allium veggies top the list of foods that can help to protect your breasts.
Turmeric is a spice that's really popular in traditional Indian dishes. But whether or not you like Indian cuisine, this is something that you should have in your spice collection. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and contains a fair amount of manganese, Vitamin C, potassium and iron. It's even got some fiber and protein in it too. As far as its health benefits go, turmeric can help to reduce depression-related symptoms, decrease symptoms that are connected to rheumatoid arthritis, fight obesity, relieve pain and, it's an awesome detoxifier. Two other benefits of turmeric include the fact that it can help to keep your skin youthful and glowing and, it can even help to keep you from getting type 2 diabetes. All of this is because of the chemical compound curcumin that's in turmeric. It's curcumin that also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that make it great for keeping your breasts healthy. And since turmeric is wonderful for your skin, it's a spice that can keep your breasts in great shape, from the inside out.
Celery is made up of 95 percent water. So, if you're looking for a food that can help you out if you happen to be dehydrated (and you want to do something other than just drink water), celery can definitely help you out. Plus, it's loaded with health benefits as well. Believe it or not, even though it's got all of that water in it, celery is still packed with nutrients like vitamins B6, C and K, along with folate, potassium, antioxidants, electrolytes, enzymes and antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. All of these work together to reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure levels; inhibit the growth of bacteria that could ultimately lead to infections; get rid of bloating; lower your chances of experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI) and fight bodily inflammation.
On the breast health tip, celery has high levels of the compound polyacetylenes in it. These work to stop cancer cells from even forming. And, since Vitamin C increases the production of collagen in your body, celery can help to keep the cancer cells away while making sure your breasts are supple and toned too. Pretty cool, huh?
If you've ever wondered what the healthiest beans are, the list includes chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and peanuts (yep, peanuts happen to fall into the beans and nuts categories). Beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, copper, folate and manganese. Beans also contain antioxidants to keep free radicals at bay, "good bacteria" (especially if they're black beans) to keep your gut in good condition, and ingredients that can keep you from getting a fatty liver (you can read more about that here). Also, thanks to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that beans have, they are just one more food that can keep cancer from creeping into your system.
If you ever wondered when plums are in season, it's usually between the months of May and October. And while I'm sure you probably already know this, just for the record, the dried-out version of plums are prunes. Plums have about one gram of fiber in them, along with 10 percent of the Vitamin C and five percent of the Vitamin A that your system needs on a daily basis per serving. If you make eating them a consistent thing, plums can fill you up with antioxidants, lower your blood sugar levels, improve your bone health, lower your blood pressure, reduce your anxiety levels (which are typically higher when the antioxidants in your body are lower than they should be), and they are also great for your breasts. There are impressive studies that the properties in plums (and peaches) have the ability to not only kill already present cancer cells, they can do that without damaging any of the healthy cells that might be around them too.
6. Olive Oil
The health benefits of olive oil are vast. Not only is it the kind of oil that is loaded with oleic acid (which is a healthy fat), it's also an oil that is packed with vitamins E and K, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The combination of all of this can help to lower your blood pressure and even reduce your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. Some other awesome things about olive oil is it's one oil that actually doesn't cause you to gain weight when you consume it, it is able to reduce symptoms that are related to rheumatoid arthritis, it can lower your type 2 diabetes risk and olive oil contains antibacterial properties that are able to fight the type of bacteria that can lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.
The Vitamin E and antioxidants can keep your breasts looking young. And there are studies to reflect that extra virgin olive oil can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.
Flaxseeds are the kind of seeds that are great for you from head to toe (have you ever made your own flaxseed gel for your hair? If not, check out this tutorial video here). Health-wise, flaxseeds are a good source of protein, fiber and, they've got a ton of omega-3 fatty acids in them (along with a small trace of other nutrients like Vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and others). The dietary fiber in flaxseeds can help to keep you regular. Plus, flaxseeds are able to help to lower your cholesterol levels, control your blood sugar and, if you're looking for something that can assist with weight loss, flaxseeds can do that too. Aside from flaxseeds also containing lignans and antioxidants to keep the skin on your breasts nice and smooth, lignans can help to decrease your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer as well.
If you're an avid fish lover, good for you, sis. Fish is an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins B2 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Every time you consume fish, you're playing a part in reducing your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. You're also lowering your risk of depression; improving your eye health; decreasing your risk of heart failure; decreasing your risk of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease; speeding you your metabolism; alleviating your PMS symptoms (due to the fatty acids) and, rejuvenating your body after a workout (thanks to the combo of the Vitamin D and fatty acids). As far as what the healthiest fish are, salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, mahi-mahi, herring and freshwater whiting top the list. As far as why fish are good for your breast health, it's a lean form of protein; the leaner the meat is, the less of a chance you'll have of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
When's the last time you cracked open a few walnuts? They've got more antioxidants in them than any other nut. Not only that but walnuts are also a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids; they promote a healthy gut; they can help to manage type 2 diabetes; they contain polyunsaturated fat, polyphenols and vitamin E that work together to keep your brain in great shape; they can keep your man's sperm in peak condition and, walnuts are another food that fights inflammation. And is it good for your girls? Well, there are studies that reveal that walnuts have been able to reduce the size of breast cancer tumors in mice. The way I see it, this means that these are the kind of nuts that can only help, not hurt.
I don't care if you like acai berries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or even grapes (yes, grapes are berries too)—all of them are a delicious way to care for your overall health and well-being. Matter of fact, when it comes to the list of superfoods that are in the world, berries are on it. That's because they are loaded with the kind of antioxidants that will help to reduce any oxidative stress that you may have in your body. Berries are also high in fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese. The ellagic acid in them can increase the collagen in your system so that your skin stays youthful looking. Berries also have properties in them that can keep your arteries nice and clear.
Finally, berries are the type of fruit that reduces inflammation while containing the antioxidants anthocyanins and resveratrol that work together to significantly decrease your cancer risk, long-term. So, do all of you, including your breasts, a favor and have a bowl of fresh berries this week. It's a delicious way to keep your girls tight—well, toned—and right. Literally.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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