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In 2014, fit-at-40 former Entertainment Tonight cohost Samantha Harris was the image of health. And then the Emmy-winning journalist and mom of two suddenly went from reporting mostly upbeat news to receiving some of life’s worst: a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis.
A double mastectomy led doctors to declare her cancer-free. But the journey to total well-being had only just begun. “When I was blindsided by the cancer diagnosis having no genetic link to it, I needed to know why,” Harris, 44, says. “So I did as much research as I could to find out. And what I came up with was what I was putting in, on, and around my body that led to my diagnosis.”
Her revelations led to additional research about other cancers and chronic diseases, including Type II diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. “I learned that the (same) changes that I wanted to make in my daily life for ridding myself of toxins as much as possible also will positively affect prevention for other chronic diseases.”
The result: Harris’s new book, Your Healthiest Healthy: 8 Easy Ways to Take Control, Help Prevent and Fight Cancer, and Live a Longer, Cleaner, Happier Life.
What is “your healthiest healthy”?
It’s unique to each individual. It is what you can change in your life to make yourself one step ahead along the path to a healthy lifestyle. So that means minor tweaks so that you’re not overwhelmed. I know for myself, the changes that I’ve made over the course of about two and a half years, those things couldn’t have happened overnight. And any changes that are done with a 180 in a fast pace are not going to stay with you for the long term. We really are talking about betterment of your overall health and well-being for longevity.
How has your nutrition changed post-cancer diagnosis?
One of the first things I did was purge my pantry. I went through every packaged item in my pantry, read the ingredients labels, and anything that had high-fructose corn syrup I kicked to the curb. I started to consume healthy fats in a pretty decent amount on a daily basis, whether it was eating a half or a full avocado a day, adding flaxseeds and chia seeds to my diet, or eating a couple of handfuls of cashews or raw almonds during the day. And I started to eat more of a veggie-heavy base. I pack my morning smoothies with veggies every day. And I make a big chopped salad. I chop it up at the start of the week and then I add fresh tomatoes, fresh avocado, lentils, and garbanzo beans. I can’t believe how energized I feel.
What other healthy ingredients do you add to your smoothie?
I use ginger, wheat grass powder, and a scoop of superfoods greens powder—that’s all organic green vegetables that have been juiced and then turned into a powder. And I add a teaspoon of matcha green tea powder. It has great anticancer properties. Also, I add bee pollen. Like turmeric, it has so many antioxidants in it and other powerful abilities to help your overall health.
Your book lists “Mother Nature’s Skin Savers.” Which are your top picks?
Coconut oil is my go-to. I use it to take off my make-up and moisturize my cuticles. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, so if there is a boo-boo on the kids, I slather some coconut oil on that. I also love avocado face masks. And though it’s bit messier, I use olive oil in the hair. It is a great way to hydrate it.
What’s your go-to tip for transitioning to cleaner hygiene products?
Get the aluminum out of your deodorant. It has no function except to stop sweat—but stopping sweat is not what your body naturally wants to do. Aluminum has been shown to be connected to breast cancer because it’s in the arm pit where all the lymph nodes are so close to the breast tissue. I like Crystal Essence because it goes on clear and dries pretty quickly. It has a nice natural fragrance and essential-oils aromas. I’m grateful that as my kids are getting closer to an age where they’re going to need it, I can with confidence hand that over to them.