Women are often seen as caregivers. In many families it is the woman’s role to schedule doctor appointments and monitor the family’s health, as well as, their own wellbeing. This stereotype is not far off the mark, after all, women are generally more accustomed to regular pelvic exams, pap tests, clinical breast exams, mammograms, and pregnancy check-ups, and are therefore more comfortable making doctor appointments.
The top ten threats to women’s health include heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, Alzheimer’s disease, accidental injuries, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and septicemia. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. To lower your risk of heart disease and stroke eat a diet rich in whole grains, fiber, vegetables, fruits, fish, fat-free dairy products, and lean meats and poultry. Stick to foods low in cholesterol and saturated and trans fats, do at least thirty minutes of physical activity each day and don’t smoke.
A woman’s body is unique and as a result needs special foods to keep it fit and strong. The top hale and hearty foods for women include berries, vitamin D rich low fat milk or orange juice, red fruits (i.e. tomatoes, red navel oranges, watermelon, and red grapefruit), beans, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and low-fat yogurt. These foods can help lower your risk of conditions like breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and may help protect your skin, joints, and vision.
Obesity plays a major role in causing life threatening conditions, infertility, and overall poor health in women. In the United States sixty-two percent of women are overweight and more than one-third of that group is obese. Obesity is a significant risk factor for conditions like arthritis, birth defects, cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, gout, heat disorders, hypertension, liver disease, lower back pain, obstetric and gynecologic complications, sleep apnea, and stroke. At thirty years of age, most women have a metabolic slowdown, making it easier to gain and harder to lose weight. Additionally, women tend to burn calories less efficiently than men because women generally have less fat-burning muscle and are often lighter and therefore burn less calories all the time. Due to estrogen, women also tend to carry fat in the hips, thighs, and buttocks, which can be the hardest places to lose fat. The key is to stay active and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Women are affected nine times as often as men by eating disorders and twice as often by depression and anxiety. Women’s high-risk periods for mental health problems occur during puberty, after giving birth, and prior to menopause. Changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can also lead to acute mood swings. It is normal to feel sad, angry, and stressed out; however, when those feelings keep you from participating in everyday life, you may have a problem and should talk to your doctor.
From puberty to menopause; from birth control to pregnancy; from weight gain to weight loss; from PMS to hot flashes; from marriage to divorce; from career woman to stay-at-home mom; from eating disorders to depression, women’s issues are numerous indeed. A psychologist can help you choose and stick to a healthy lifestyle, no matter the issue.