Menopause is a stage in every woman's life that brings many changes, both physical and emotional. We present you with two health conditions whose risks significantly increase with menopause: cardiovascular illnesses and osteoporosis. Also, we offer some tips to help prevent them.
According to the Menopause Guidebook, published by the North American Menopause Society in 2006, post-menopausal women are at a 66% higher risk for suffering from cardiovascular related conditions than pre-menopausal woman of the same age. This happens because the protective effect of our feminine hormones (known as estrogens) whichis lost during menopause. As a result, women must take care of their hearts to reduce their risk of suffering from these illnesses.
To achieve this, women must follow a healthy lifestyle, starting with diet:
- Reduce consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, found in butter, bacon, and other similar foods
- Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Choose fat-free dairy products
- Choose lean meats
- Increase the consumption of foods that contain Omega-3 fats, such as certain fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and trout), soy-based and canola oil, and nuts and avocados.
- Reduce your consumption of salt may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular illnesses by controlling your blood pressure.
When women reach menopause, the risk of suffering from osteoporosis may increase if you don't care for your bones. The North American Menopause Society of 2006 estimates that about 15% of women over 50 suffer from osteoporosis, which is defined as a "skeletal disorder where bone strength is decreased to the point where the bone is brittle, and carries more risk of fractures." The increased risk related to that fact that the shape and hardness of our bones depend on estrogen. Therefore after menopause, women start to lose bone density and bone strength rapidly.
Calcium is the main nutrient that contributes to bone health. Fat-free dairy products are an excellent option. However, other foods that also provide significant amount of calcium to your diet are leafy greens, some nuts such as almonds, and legumes. Currently, you can find calcium-fortified products, such as orange and fruit juices, cereal, bread, cereal bars, and selected soy products.
Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb calcium. The main source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun. U.S. Food Guidelines recommend exposure to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes without sun block, twice a week. The best food sources of Vitamin are fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks, and fortified food such as orange juice.
Finally, an active lifestyle will help control and reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, to maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress.
It's time to start taking care of your health. Don't let the risks that come with menopause, affect your life. With these recommendations, face them with determination, so you can enjoy your life to the max.
Larson, R., American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 3 rdedition, revised & updated. 2006. pp 449-451
United States. The North American Menopause Society. Menopause Guidebook: Helping Women Make Informed Healthcare Decisions Around Menopause and Beyond. 6 thedition, 2006. pg.32; from www.menopause.orgUnited States. The North American Menopause Society. The Role of calcium in peri- and postmenopausal women: 2006 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. Vol 13, No. 6, pp 862-877, 2006; from www.menopause.org
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