May is Women’s Health Month and to celebrate, I’m going to take a broader look at more areas of health that are important to maintaining a healthy mind and body throughout midlife. I normally write about all things hormone-related, but good health in perimenopause is about so much more! If you want to rock your mojo well into old age, you’ll want to think about these areas as well. Let’s take a look.
[bctt tweet=”May is Women’s Health Month and to celebrate, let’s visit on these areas of health that are important to maintaining a healthy mind and body throughout midlife: #perimenopause #menopause #womenshealth #osteoporosis #heartdisease #dementia #hormones #guthealth #GIMap #estrogen #progesterone” username=”DrAnnaGarrett”]
Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women? Estrogen helps regulate cholesterol production, thus decreasing the build-up of plaque in coronary arteries. It also helps keep blood vessels pliable and strong to allow for appropriate expansion and relaxation, thus maintaining good blood pressure control. But as women age, falling estrogen makes them more susceptible to developing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
The good news is that you can help prevent heart disease. Here’s how:
- Don’t smoke
- Learn how to manage your blood sugar
- Control your blood pressure
- Learn about your family history
- Be active
- Eat healthy
- Maintain a healthy weight
Want to stay out of the nursing home? Falls resulting in hip fractures are the number one reason for admission to long-term care facilities. This means you need to take care of your bones and prevent osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)…starting now.
Signs that you may be developing osteoporosis include:
- Receding gums. Our teeth are connected to the jaw bone and if the jaw is losing bone, gums can recede. Standard x-rays at the dentist will identify this.
- Weak, brittle fingernails. Nail condition often improves once bone health is supported with the right supplements and diet. But be aware that weak nails can also be caused by many other things (like thyroid problems, having your hands in water frequently or exposure to chemicals) so keep this in mind.
- Cramps, muscle aches, and bone pain. Most of us chalk these things up to old age, but these may indicate that your bones need a little love. Vitamin D deficiency is nearly epidemic now and research has shown that this contributes to muscle aches. Cramping can indicate low levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Over time, these deficiencies can lead to bone loss. Getting leg cramps at night? Take your calcium/magnesium supplement at bedtime. It’s calming, so it will help you sleep in addition to helping mid-night cramps.
- You’re losing height. Height loss may be caused by weak spinal muscles and poor posture, but it may also indicate silent vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis.
- You’re out of shape. Bone mass is maintained by doing weight-bearing exercise (walking, yoga, running, lifting weights). This is one of THE best ways to maintain your bones. Low overall fitness increases the likelihood that your bone mass will decrease over time. Research is showing that sitting is as harmful to you as smoking. The good news is that even if you’re a couch potato now you can turn it around if you get up and get moving.
A simple DEXA scan can identify if you have issues with osteopenia (beginnings of osteoporosis) or osteoporosis. Keep an eye on your Vitamin D levels as well. The ideal range is 50-70 ng/mL.
Did you know that women are six times more likely to experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder characterized by symptoms including stomach pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation, than men?
Gut problems can originate for a number of reasons. These include changes in hormone levels, exposure to toxins, poor diet, food sensitivities, stress, and imbalances in gut microbes. In fact, almost all diseases can be traced back in some way to gut health!
Many chronic diseases like autoimmune disease, diabetes, and heart disease have their origins in gut-related inflammation or changes in microbial balance that result in lower levels of neurotransmitters (depression).
A GI Map test can identify imbalances in gut microbes as well as issues with inflammation. Contact me at email@example.com for more information on the GI Map and food sensitivity testing.
The link between estrogen and Alzheimer’s disease is controversial. Epidemiological studies consistently suggest the hormone protects the brain, but the landmark Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) found that hormone replacement therapy (synthetic) harmed cognition in older women who were long past menopause.
The data led to the hypothesis that the effect of estrogen depends on age, with younger women benefiting the most. Other studies have demonstrated positive effects on the brain with longer lifetime exposure to estrogen….but the overall conclusion right now seems to be that starting estrogen before the age of 60 (or within 10 years of menopause) has the greatest effect on maintaining brain health and preventing dementia. There is much more study going on in this area and it’s greatly needed to fully answer questions about the benefits of estrogen on brain health.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.
Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultations. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-