Viazoi News

New Year, New Family Habits

An image of macaroni and cheese
Simple ideas to make healthy eating easier

(Family Features) When your family is transitioning back into a regular routine in the new year, it’s the perfect time to recommit to healthy eating habits throughout the day. Getting the whole family on board may be easier than you think – just keep the focus on flavor and fun.

If you’re short on ideas to jumpstart better family eating, try these tips:

Keep it simple. Busy families often rely on the convenience of boxed meals, but you can get the same easy, delicious meal in a much healthier way. Everything cooks in one pot for easy clean-up, and this Cheeseburger Mac recipe swaps ground beef for leaner ground turkey. Not only is this an easy weeknight dinner, but leftovers can be packed in a thermos for lunch on chilly days.

Have fun. Try using creative shapes, textures, and colors to make mealtime and lunchboxes more fun. Use cookies cutters to easily create butterflies, flowers, dinosaurs and more. Allow your kids to get involved in packing their own lunchboxes or helping with a meal. If your kids have a love of space or are learning about it in school, this bento box is definitely out of this world. Grapes create the dark backdrop while Swiss cheese is the perfect place for a moon landing. Clementine crescent moons and mini sweet pepper planet rings round out the meal.

Make a family promise. To keep the momentum going, rely on a resource like the Power Your Lunchbox Promise website, which offers everything from healthy lunchbox ideas to after-school snacks and dinners. All meal ideas have been approved by a registered dietitian, meet USDA guidelines and are kid-friendly. What’s more, for every Power Your Lunchbox Promise made on the website, health-conscious companies supporting the initiative will make a $1 donation to Feeding America’s programs that support families and children. Learn more at

Cheeseburger Mac

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

1          tablespoon olive oil

1          pound lean ground turkey

1          small onion, finely chopped

1          cup mini sweet peppers, chopped

1 1/2    teaspoons paprika

1          teaspoon sugar

1/2       teaspoon salt

1/2       teaspoon chili powder

1 1/2    cups water

1          cup milk

3          tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2    cups whole-grain dry macaroni

1          cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add turkey, onion, and peppers. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through.

In a small bowl, mix paprika, sugar, salt and chili powder. Add to turkey and stir. Add water, milk, tomato paste, and pasta. Mix well. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and top with cheese.

Space Exploration Bento Box

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

1/2       cup red seedless grapes

1          whole-wheat sandwich round

2          slices low-sodium deli-sliced turkey

1          slice Swiss cheese

1/2       slice low-fat cheddar cheese

1          clementine, peeled and segmented

3          mini sweet peppers, sliced into rings

1          package freeze-dried fruit

Add grapes to bottom of a large section of bento box to create space background. Place bottom of the sandwich round on top, add turkey and sandwich round top.

Lay Swiss cheese on cutting board. Using a small bowl or other round objects, cut into a circle. Place on top of the sandwich to create a moon.

Lay cheddar cheese on cutting board. Using small star cookie cutter, cut out stars. Add to space around moon.

Pair with clementine “crescent moons,” pepper “planet rings” and freeze-dried fruit.


An image with 'Hell with Cancer' written on top of a floral scull (cartoon)

In our continued effort to offer simple, convenient and affordable genetic testing, Viazoi has introduced Women’s Hereditary Breast & Ovarian genetic testing kit for $199. The test will perform a comprehensive analysis of 25 targeted genes with associated cancer risk. (Predisposition related to Breast, Ovarian, Lynch syndrome and Cowden syndrome)

Inherited genetic mutations play a major role in about five to ten percent of all cancers.(1) Which means that if you have a family member who has cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing or passing on a similar condition. Genetic testing is a tool used to identify those hereditary mutations in our DNA that may indicate a predisposition for certain cancers or health conditions. Viazoi offers predisposition profiling for 94 genes and over 145 cancer and health conditions.

This is our commitment ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to understand their inherited genetic risk, and knowing about the mutation early gives individuals an opportunity to work with their healthcare provider to develop a personalized prevention plan.

(1) American Cancer Society March 23, 2016

7th Annual Movable Feast

An image of the Viazoi team at a charity event

Viazoi is proud to be recognized as one of the 2017 Cultivating Sponsors for the 7th Annual St. John’s Movable Feast.  The event gathered LA’s best restaurants to donate their time, talent, and passion to promote access to health services for underserved Angelenos.

3 Keys to Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Two women at the gym working out

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the key components to a healthy and cancer preventative lifestyle, but, despite the prevalence of health and fitness information, many people find this difficult to achieve. The primary reason for this is that, while basic human physiology is the same, every person is different. We have different body types, different motivations, different preferences, different natural ability, and different methods of learning.

The key is to find what works for you, but don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Think of it like trying out a new restaurant. If you like it, you’ll go back. If you don’t like it, you don’t swear off all restaurants, you just don’t go back to that one. When you’re creating a healthy lifestyle routine, don’t get frustrated just because the first things you try don’t work or because you don’t enjoy them. Just try something new!

A Little Direction

While you have to find what works for you, research is the first step. With the right information, you can create a beneficial routine and we want to help!

One of the components of achieving a healthy weight is fat loss and, according to BodyBuilding.Com, there are three key factors to effective fat loss that applies to everyone: 1) Goal Setting; 2) Nutrition; and 3) Exercise. Without all three working in tandem, it will be harder to keep weight lost off.

Set Goals

The first step is to figure out what you want to achieve. This is your long-term goal. Identify where you are now, where you’d like to be, and when you’d like to get there. It is important to be realistic about your goals and the timeframe it will take to meet them. You can’t rush weight loss and good health. There are no shortcuts. For it to be permanent, you have to do it right.

Once your long-term goal is set, you need to set smaller, short-term goals. These will help keep you motivated on the way to your long-term goal.

To make sure this goal-setting works, they need to have several qualities:

— They must be specific.
— They must be measurable.
— They must be adjustable. (If you get the flu and your timeframe gets thrown off, just update it)
— They must be realistic.
— They must be time-based.

Look at Your Diet

Nutrition facts and measure tapeOnce your goals are set, it’s time to address nutrition. Diet is the most important component to fat loss (80-90 percent) and we’re not talking about fads and trends. Your diet is your eating lifestyle, which you should be able to maintain all year-round. The only thing you should change about it is the amount of calories consumed, based on what your goals are.

Your weight loss diet should include the following six principles:

Adequacy: Get the amount of energy (calories) and nutrients you need.
Balance: Don’t overdo it with any specific type of food.
Energy Control: Know how many calories you need to consume for your energy level and allow for that without going over.
Nutrient Density: Choose foods that provide the most nutrients for the least energy.
Moderation: Be aware of and moderate portion sizes. Keep high fat and sugar foods to a minimum.
Variety: Eat a variety of foods each day.

Time to Exercise!

Exercise helps you to build muscle, which, in turn, helps you burn more calories and lose more fat. It also encourages self-confidence and gives you a way to destress. The best exercise program for losing fat combines cardio (mostly high intensity), weights, and flexibility. There are a variety of factors that must be considered and specified when creating such an exercise plan. These include:

Frequency: How often you exercise in a given time period.
Time: How long your exercise sessions last.
Intensity: The level of exertion of your exercise.
Type: What form of exercise is being performed.
Specificity: Performing the specific exercise to achieve your goals.
Overload: Increasing intensity to increase/improve ability.
Adaptation: Exercise/training must progress via overload or performance may start to decline.
Progression: Intensity must become progressively greater.

Can’t I Just Start Running Everyday?

The answer, yes, you can, but it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve your goals with running alone. Taking control of your health is more complicated; while this may be discouraging at first, it is really the only way to do it right. There are a great many factors associated with good health and taking an analytical approach to each of them will help you achieve your greatest potential!

Not All Cancers Have a Lifestyle Link

An image of a chain

The link between lifestyle and cancer has been long established and government agencies and medical professionals have been trying to encourage healthy choices as a way to significantly lower one’s cancer risk. According to an article published back in 2008 in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes,

…5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity.

The link between cancer and lifestyle is not new, but it’s not the whole story. It is true that the lifestyle choices we make can lower or increase the risk of cancer, but did you know that this does not necessarily apply to EVERY cancer? At least not yet…

Evidence of a Lifestyle Link

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), our risk for many types of cancer correlates to physical activity, diet, and weight, however, for some cancers, it is uncertain whether these three factors play a role. A link to lifestyle may, in fact, exist, but more research is needed to present concrete evidence of it. For the following cancers, there is evidence that choices regarding physical activity, weight, and diet can lower or raise risk:

— Breast Cancer
— Cancers of the Mouth, Pharynx, and Larynx
— Colorectal Cancer
— Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
— Esophageal Cancer
— Gallbladder Cancer
— Kidney Cancer
— Liver Cancer
— Pancreatic Cancer
— Stomach Cancer
— Ovarian Cancer

The Missing Link

While AICR/WCRF reports found evidence connecting the lifestyle factors of diet, physical activity, and weight to the above cancers, they did not find strong evidence of a connection between lifestyle and the below cancers:

— Bladder Cancer
— Cervical Cancer
— Nasopharyngeal Cancer (rare in the U.S., common is Southern China – Cantonese-style salted fish is probably the cause of this cancer)
— Skin Cancer (while excessive sun exposure is directly related to skin cancer, there is no strong evidence to link diet, physical activity, or weight, with the exception of arsenic in drinking water)

Not Enough Evidence… Yet

Unfortunately, evidence was too limited to examine for the following cancers and more research is needed to determine the presence of potential lifestyle links:

— Cancers of the Musculoskeletal System (Myosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Fibrosarcoma, Liposarcoma)
— Cancers of the Nervous System (Central Nervous System Lymphoma, Spinal Nerve Tumor, Cranial Tumor, Sellar Tumor, Meningoma, Glioblastoma)
— Leukemia
— Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s)
— Multiple Myeloma
— Testicular Cancer
— Thyroid Cancer

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the healthier choices you make and the more informed you are of your health risks, the better off you are. At reveal23, we offer inherited cancer risk testing, analyzing up to 94 genes, so that you have all the information you need to take full control of your health. We can help you find out what your DNA is saying about you behind your back so you know exactly what’s going on. Buy your easy-to-use testing kit today!

Early Detection and Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Two hands with a pink ribbon to represent breast cancer awareness

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2017. Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, and while it is sometimes found after symptoms appear, many women with breast cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, which is why breast cancer screening is important.

Benefits of Early Detection

Breast cancer that is found early is easier to treat successfully and the best way to find it early (should it exist) is to get screening exams regularly. It is also important to perform self breast examinations and pay attention to any changes in the breasts. Any unusual changes should be reported to your doctor right away.

The point of a screening test is to find potential breast cancer before it causes symptoms, like a lump. Once clear symptoms appear, it is much more likely that the cancer is at a more advanced stage and has potentially spread, which makes it harder to treat successfully.


mammogramThe most common breast cancer screening test used for early detection is a mammogram, which is a low-dose x-ray of the breast that looks for changes in tissue that could indicate breast cancer. There are two types of mammograms, a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram.

A screening mammogram is used to look for breast cancer in women who do not have any breast problems or symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is a mammogram that is used to look at the breast of a woman who has a breast change or problem.

Mammograms can identify masses and calcifications in breast tissue that could indicate cancer. They can’t actually prove that an abnormal area is cancer, however.

Breast Ultrasound

If there is an abnormal finding on a mammogram, a breast ultrasound is often the next step. An ultrasound is useful for looking at a breast change seen on a mammogram, as well as other breast changes, such as those that may be felt but not seen on a mammogram. If a mass is felt or seen on a mammogram, an ultrasound can be used to determine if it is a fluid-filled cyst (not cancer) or a solid mass.

Biopsy and Diagnosis

When a mammogram and breast ultrasound indicate the presence of POTENTIAL cancer, a biopsy is the next step. During a biopsy, which may be done with a needle or an incision, a surgeon removes cells from the suspicious area to determine whether the cells are cancerous.

Whether or not a biopsy confirms a cancer diagnosis, remember that you could get a second opinion. It may mean another biopsy but a second opinion can be helpful when you’re having difficulty with a diagnosis or non-diagnosis.

After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis – Breast MRI Scans

While a screening MRI may be recommended for certain women with a particularly high risk for breast cancer, breast MRIs are typically used for women who have already been diagnosed to help measure the cancer’s size and look for other breast tumors (in the diagnosed breast and in the other). Breast MRI scans are not recommended as a screening test for the average woman because they tend to report more false positives (find something that isn’t actually cancer), which could lead to unneeded tests and biopsies.

Understanding Your Breast Cancer Risk

Some doctors are more aggressive in their breast cancer screening recommendations than others. For a woman with a high risk of breast cancer, this can be very helpful, but perhaps not so much for a woman with a low or average risk. Being well-informed of your own breast cancer risk can help you work with your doctor to set-up an appropriate screening schedule that does not subject you to unnecessary tests. To find out whether you have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, order our Women’s Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Test today!

Eat These Foods to Boost Immunity

An image of a variety of mushrooms

It’s flu and cold season, hooray (insert sarcasm)!  

Illness has the power to throw a wrench into the gears of our routines, and it is especially dangerous for cancer patients who have compromised immune systems. A simple cold is not so simple when you have cancer. It is important for all of us to help keep our immune systems in tip-top shape and these immune-boosting foods can help!

Smoked garlic1. Garlic

We can’t praise garlic enough! A relative of the onion, garlic contains allicin, which fights bacteria and infection. In a British study, researchers gave 146 people either garlic extract or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who were given the garlic were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Additionally, other studies have suggested that eating upwards of six garlic cloves per week results in a 30 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a whopping 50 percent reduced risk of stomach cancer. Can’t go wrong with garlic! Unless you’re a vampire…

2. Yogurt

Probiotics, the “live active cultures” found in yogurt and other cultured dairy products like kefir, are healthy bacteria that keep the intestinal tract and gut free of disease-causing germs. According to a Swedish study of 181 factory workers, those who drank a supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri (a probiotic that seems to stimulate white blood cells) every day over the course of the 80-day study took 33 percent fewer sick days than employees who took a placebo.

3. Tea

According to a Harvard study, people who drank black tea five times per day for two weeks had 10 times the amount of virus-fighting interferon in their blood than those who drank a placebo hot drink, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine.

4. Barley and Oats

An adequate amount of fiber is important for a healthy body and these grains contain a particular type of fiber, beta-glucan, which has antioxidant and antimicrobial capabilities more potent than echinacea.

5. Shellfish

Shellfish like lobsters, oysters, clams, and crabs are rich in selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokine proteins. These proteins, in turn, help clear flu viruses out of the body. When you do eat shellfish, however, please make sure they are purchased from a reputable source (high-quality grocery store or restaurant). Improperly refrigerated shellfish can lead to food poisoning.

6. Chicken Soup

Yes, the quintessential “I don’t feel well” food, chicken soup has immune-boosting benefits. Cysteine, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine (according to University of Nebraska researchers). Additionally, the salty broth thins mucus much in the same way cough medicines do AND added spices such as garlic (we love garlic!) give the soup even immune-boosting power.

7. Beef

Even a mild zinc deficiency can increase a person’s risk of infection. Zinc is an essential mineral for the development of white blood cells and beef is one of the best sources of it.

8. Mushrooms

According to Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, Director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, D.C., mushrooms increase the activity and production of white blood cells, making them more aggressive.

9. Sweet Potato

Did you know that your skin is one of the first lines of defense against viruses, bacteria, and other undesirable substances? To keep your skin healthy, you need the appropriate amount of vitamin A, which you can get from beta-carotene-containing foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots.

Eating Your Way to Good Health

By maintaining a healthy diet, you will naturally boost your immune system, but it is important to remember that a healthy diet does not necessarily mean an exclusionary one. When you start cutting out certain foods, you cut out the nutrients too, so be careful to find new sources of those nutrients or your health will suffer.

Helping Yourself Cope with Cancer

A man stretching at the gym

As we covered in last week’s blog post, feelings of distress, such as depression, hopelessness, anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, and fear are common for cancer patients and caregivers, but all is not lost. While having top-notch support system with your medical team and loved ones is important, there are several things that you can do yourself to improve your ability to cope. A positive way to avoid feeling powerless is to take an active role in dealing with the cancer.

We Like To Move It Move It

Exercise is actually a very beneficial coping tactic. Moderate exercise has been shown to help with anxiety, tiredness, blood vessel and heart fitness, muscle strength, and tiredness. By alleviating some treatment side effects and improving strength, a cancer patient may find it easier to undergo treatment. It’s very difficult to start to exercise when you’re feeling tired, as many people feel after treatment, but that’s why it is even more important. Focus on the fact that exercise increases energy and releases endorphins, both of which will make you feel better. You just have to take that first step. We would be remiss if we did not note, however, that any exercise regimen should be cleared with your oncologist before you begin.

But Wait, There’s More

Additional ways that may help you cope with your illness include:

— Use methods that have helped you get through crises or periods of high-stress in the past, whether it’s talking with a friend or an outlet like painting, meditation, or listening to music.

— Take one day at a time. Don’t worry about the future. Focusing on coping “today” without worrying about how you’ll cope tomorrow makes an illness like cancer easier to manage.

— Always ask questions. Being well-informed is important so you know what you can do for your part. Make sure your doctor lets you ask all your questions and is happy to answer all of them.

— Get spiritual, if so inclined. Many cancer patients find support and strength in belief systems they value, even if they are not particularly spiritual or religious.

— Keep detailed records of doctor information, treatment dates, x-rays, lab values, symptoms, scans, medicines, side effects, and any other information related to the cancer. When you give yourself a responsibility, you have a better feeling of purpose. You can also keep a journal as an emotional outlet.

Do NOT Suffer in Silence

Cancer is not one of those things that you should try to deal with alone. Research shows that cancer patients who have a network of support fare better during treatment and have higher survival rates. There’s nothing embarrassing about asking for help or unloading your worries and fears. There’s nothing wrong with being frustrated about the side effects of treatment. Take a leaf out of Madonna’s book and “Express Yourself.” The worst thing you can do when you have cancer is shut people out.

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