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Take Charge of Your Health!

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Take Charge of Your Health!I think I'm in menopause! What can I do for myself?


Menopause is unavoidable! Some women have little or no side effects, while others suffer through the side effects. Lifestyle changes can help relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. As a bonus, they reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Here are some changes you can make that are guaranteed to improve your health:

Stop smoking

If you smoke, one of the best things you can do for yourself now is to STOP! Cigarette smoking is known to increase a woman's risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, and menopausal women are already at risk for both diseases because of reduced estrogen levels. Smoking can bring on menopause as much as two to three years earlier than it would naturally occur, putting a woman at even greater risk because she spends fewer years with the protective benefit of estrogen.

Exercise

Women who have active lifestyles seem to experience fewer hot flashes than women who are inactive. You need two different types of exercise: weight-bearing exercise (like weight training) to help slow bone loss and aerobic exercise (like walking or swimming) to help lower the risk of heart disease.

Control your weight

Being overweight puts you at increased risk for heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. It's not only excess weight that matters, but where you carry that extra weight. Fat around the waist and stomach is particularly dangerous for your heart.

Eat healthy

Eating right is always important, but it can become more difficult as you reach menopause. First off, because of a slowing metabolism, you have to get more nutritional punch for your calories, or you're likely to gain weight. One way to do this is to follow the portion sizes and food choices in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid. Choose lower fat meat and dairy products and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D, as a way to help stave off osteoporosis. After menopause, women on estrogen replacement therapy are advised to get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. This jumps to 1,500 milligrams if they are not receiving hormone replacement therapy. The best sources of calcium are low-fat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and milk because they contain vitamin D and lactose, two substances that aid calcium absorption. Calcium is also available in canned fish with edible bones, such as salmon and sardines; dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, collard, and broccoli; and calcium-fortified foods, such as orange juice and breads made with calcium-fortified flour.

Other foods like those containing soy can also have great benefits. Soy contains naturally occurring chemicals called phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), which the body converts into hormone-like substances. They are thought to have the same beneficial effects as estrogen and offer another way to combat some of the annoying symptoms caused by menopause, as well as potentially reducing the risk of developing heart disease and osteoporosis. Foods believed to contain phytoestrogens include oilseeds, particularly linseed or flaxseed oil, and soybeans.

There are some foods that are known to trigger hot flashes: caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks, and chocolate. You may find it helpful to avoid them.

Drink plenty of water

Eight glasses of water a day is recommended.

Reduce stress

Learning to cope with stress can help alleviate hot flashes for some women, as well as aid overall well-being. Some options for stress reduction include massage and exercise.

Explore our Fitness articles for more ideas!


This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

04-12-2003 - 04:23 PM


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