Although many people are unaware of this issue, heart disease is by far the number one killer of women in the U.S. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight, diabetes, menopause, smoking and physical inactivity are key heart disease risks. Maintaining a healthy heart requires that we adopt a healthy and beautiful diet low in saturated fats and high in soluble fibre. To reduce your risks, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress levels and be more physically active. Health and beauty Ideally, exercise in your training zone for 30-45 minutes each day. A power walk is one of the best ways of getting enough exercise to meet this daily requirement. It’s also easy on your joints relative to other exercises, and you can enjoy it with a family member or friend.
According to Prevention Magazine (March 2008), genetics play a role in determining overall breast cancer risk. However, less than 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary. Other risk factors include increasing age, personal history of breast abnormalities, physical inactivity, being overweight, taking hormone replacement therapy, early menstruation (before the age of 12), late menopause (after age 55), age at your first live birth and family history of breast cancer. To reduce your risk of cancer in general, eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce dietary fat, drink less alcohol, quit smoking and exercise regularly. To reduce your breast cancer risk, in particular, be sure to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Do your monthly breast self-examinations and have regularly scheduled mammograms from age 40 onwards. If there is a known breast cancer risk based on genetics, surgical and non-surgical options will be discussed with you by your physician.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas produces too little insulin, or your body cannot properly use the insulin that it produces. The result is a build-up of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Obesity is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes. If left uncontrolled, there are many serious complications associated with type 2 diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney problems and possible blindness. Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes are increased thirst, hunger and urination, fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision. To reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, you should reach a healthy weight, be physically active every day and manage your blood pressure levels if you have high blood pressure. In addition, reduce your intake of saturated fats and increase your consumption of soluble fibre to keep your cholesterol levels in the normal range.
PMS and Menopause
PMS is a prevalent syndrome affecting an estimated 4 out of 10 women in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. It is thought that changing hormone levels and brain chemistry play a role in PMS. Many symptoms have been linked to PMS, including irritability, bloating, weight gain, fatigue, abdominal pain, food cravings and forgetfulness. You can manage mild or moderate PMS symptoms by eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread and vegetables and including 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. Research indicates that calcium, magnesium, vitamin b6 and evening primrose may also help reduce PMS symptoms. At the end of menstruation, a woman enters menopause and must deal with another set of symptoms. The symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness, breast changes, thinning of the skin, bone loss, increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, increase in heart disease risk, and weight gain. Be sure to see your doctor annually for a breast exam, pelvic exam and mammogram. Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight, eat a diet low in saturated fats and high in soluble fibre, and ensure that your calcium and vitamin D intake is adequate. You should also do regular strength training to help strengthen your bones.