Women's Health Issues and Prevention Tips

Women are more susceptible to particular health issues, many of which we may not even be aware. Be proactive by researching your family medical history, educating yourself on these issues and paying close attention to your body. Cancer: The most common are breast and cervical cancers and early detection is key. Talk with your doctor about your risks and appropriate screenings. Mental Health: Women are more prone to anxiety and depression. Many things can trigger depression so it is important for women to find things they enjoy and have a reason to keep going each day; work, family, friends, pets, volunteering, etc. Heart Disease is responsible for 29% of female deaths, many of these premature (before the age of 70). Heart disease impairs mobility for instance getting quickly out of breath and not being able to walk up a flight of stairs. Risk factors include: age, heredity, smoking, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes. Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans, 68% of which are women. Back pain, hunched backs and frailty can be prevented with adequate calcium intake and weight-bearing physical activity starting in childhood and continuing into early adulthood.  Autoimmune diseases include more than 80 chronic disease like lupus, thyroid disease, and multiple sclerosis and about 75% of these occur in women.

Listen to your body. If you do not feel like your doctor is taking your symptoms or complaints seriously find another doctor who will take the time to examine them. No matter the time of year but especially in the hot sunny summer, skincare needs close attention.  Your skin is your body's largest organ and acts as an effective barrier to millions of germs and pathogens that could make you sick. When skin becomes dry and chapped, those pathogens have a better chance of finding a way into your body.  Take care of your skin with these three tips:

  1. Use SPF 30 (at least 30) sunscreen everyday on your face and slather on sunscreen days you spend outside.  To cover your body, you should use enough to fill a shot glass each time you apply it.

  2. Stay hydrated from the inside out by drinking water throughout the day.  A good way to estimate how many ounces of fluid you need per day is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by two.  Start with that many ounces and work your way up.

  3. Protect your skin from dryness by using a good-quality moisturizer.  Avoid scented lotions if these irritate your skin further.

There are certain nutrients especially important for women.  Many women (and men for that matter) come to a point in life that they decide to go on a weight loss diet.  The diet often includes cutting calories to lose weight.  If you are following, or considering, a weight loss plan, be sure to include enough of these nutrients: Protein Lean proteins, like skinless chicken, eggs and fish, can help you stay satisfied throughout the day, despite eating fewer calories.  For weight loss, start at a rate of 0.5 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight (example:  180 pound person x 0.5= 90 grams protein per day).  This range can vary. Carbohydrates (carbs) It's all about quality when it comes to carbs.  A balanced weight loss plan can include carbs but they should come from mostly whole, minimally processed foods like sweet potatoes, oats and fruit.  Avoid carbs from highly processed foods like soda, pastries, muffins, cakes, instant potatoes and boxed pasta mixes. Calcium This mineral is essential for more than just building and maintaining bones.  Calcium helps keep your heart pumping, your muscles strong, and may help prevent high blood pressure.  Sources of calcium include dairy products, tofu and green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli. Aim for at least 1,000 milligrams per day (more if you are younger than 18 or older than 50). Folic Acid This B vitamin (B9) is especially important for woman of childbearing age, who need 400 micrograms daily.  While folic acid is the form found in supplements, folate is the food form of this vitamin.  Food sources include grains, green leafy vegetables, oranges, berries, nuts and beans.  Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are more likely to have children with neural tube defects, like spina bifida.  That is why prenatal vitamins with folic acid are recommended for anyone who is pregnant or considering pregnancy.  Folic acid can also boost your immune function by helping your body make white blood cells.

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