Guest Author - A. Maria Hester, M.D.
It should come as no surprise that nutrition is a very important component of a woman’s overall health. As a matter of fact, according to Bernadine Healy, MD, former head of the Women’s Health Initiative, nutrition is unquestionably the biggest single factor impacting the health and well-being of women of all ages.
Take, for instance, the number one killer of women, heart disease. The presence of heart disease in an individual is related to many factors, not the least of which is lifestyle. While some people are predisposed to early heart disease as a result of the genes their parents gave them, a high percentage of people develop heart disease as a result of choices they have made along the way.
High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cigarette smoking are, to a significant extent, controllable or preventable. After all, a sedentary lifestyle and a high fat diet make it far more likely a woman will gain unnecessary weight. And, as we all know, being overweight or obese dramatically increases one’s risk of developing hypertension or diabetes. While not everyone was destined to be a size 1, many people have made some choices along the way that, in retrospect, were not the best ones.
On the other hand, multitudes of people have made a conscious decision to watch what they eat and exercise more, and in so doing have lost a great deal of weight and even come off of some, if not all of their medications for hypertension and diabetes.
The decision to begin smoking cigarettes was, of course, purely a conscious one. Unfortunately, once many people decide they want to quit they find that the nicotine has them hooked and they face an uphill battle to kick this potentially deadly habit.
Heart disease is only the tip of the iceberg. Many other aspects of a woman’s health are impacted by lifestyle. For instance, it is believed by many that dietary fat impacts the density of breast tissue. Not only is it harder to interpret the mammograms of women with dense breasts, the National Cancer Institute has reported that breast cancer rates are higher in women with dense breasts as compared to women without dense breast tissue. Furthermore, a study revealed that dense breast tissue may be significantly reduced by changing eating habits. Specifically, postmenopausal women in this study who initially had very dense breasts were found to have less dense breasts after two years of consuming a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
The bottom line is you strive to do your best. While you should not set unrealistic goals for yourself you should ask yourself if the goals you have set are the absolute best goals you can achieve. If not, make a plan to spruce up your lifestyle goals. This may be the best decision of your life.
Be prepared for emergencies.
Keep a copy of vital health records in your purse at all times. Scan in EKGs, lab reports and other valuable information. Fill in charts allow you to keep track of medical problems, medications, allergies, appointments and MUCH MORE.
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