Most magazine and online articles that discuss menopause focus on the various symptoms, how to treat them and how to keep yourself healthy. There is some information on what to do after menopause but not nearly enough to help women through this transition. Years ago menopause was seen as the beginning of the end, but these days we are living longer, so now menopause is just the segue to the next chapter in your life. That's why women need to know how to maintain health after menopause: so they can enjoy what may arguably be the best years of their life. Here's what you can do:
Diet and Exercise Regimen
The key to good health lies in a proper diet and exercise program. Diet and exercise are what keep you strong , lean and energized. They promote better lung function, healthier skin and nails, increased stamina and a faster metabolism. They also help protect you body against certain disease that are more likely to occur after age 50, like heart disease.
Diet: Your diet is what fuels your body, so it's crucial to feed it with the right types of foods during menopause and ensure to take it in the correct amount. As we get older the amount of calories our body needs may lessen, but the vitamins and minerals it needs doesn't. Ideally when you pass the age of 50 you want to consume nutrient-dense foods: foods that are low in calories but high in proteins and vitamins. Stick with lean meats, fresh fish, low-fat dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables. The FDA has a set of guidelines, called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that you can use to make smart food decisions. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals include: vitamin D, calcium, and B12 and B6 vitamins.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is shown to help fight cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Studies show vitamin D has anti-cancer properties: every 10 mg of vitamin D increases it's presence in your blood, significantly lowering your cancer risk. It also contributes to bone strength, reducing your risk of injury during a fall by 29% when you take 700-1000 IU a day.
- Calcium: Calcium is one of the best minerals to deter bone loss and prevent osteoporosis. Falls are one of the most common injuries in people over 50: bone loss can result in fractures or breaks, requiring hospitalization. It also has a positive effect on high blood pressure, obesity and kidney stones. Women over the age of 50 should have about 1200 mg a day. It is also important to be are that certain minerals can block calcium absorption, like tannins (found in teas), oxalic acid (spinach and leafy greens and phytates (whole grains like wheat).
- B12 and B6 vitamins: B12 helps maintain your blood and nerves, but can be difficult to absorb after the age of 50. A supplement containing 24 mcg should be taken daily. B6 is responsible for breaking down proteins, helping to produce hemoglobin, so take 1.5 mg daily.
Exercise: Exercise is a another crucial step in remaining health after menopause. You need cardiovascular exercise as well as toning exercises to keep your body fit and running efficiently. Cardiovascular exercise gets your heart pumping and your blood circulating. Circulation diminishes after menopause, so running, jogging or even swimming can make a big difference in this area. Cardio also promotes good heart health and keeps your metabolism running at it's peak, so you burn as many calories as possible.
Toning exercises are just as important: they help build muscle, so you have more lean body tissue. Muscle burns fat, so the more toned and taut you are, the more fat you use, making you slim and trim.
Don't wait until you are sick to see your doctor or to try and get in shape. Prevention is the key to staying healthy after menopause. Be proactive and stop problems before they start by:
- Visiting your doctor once a year: Regular check-ups are the best way to stay on top of your health and monitor any possible issues. If you have high blood pressure or other high-risk conditions you may want to have a check-up every 6 months.
- Taking tests: get an annual pap smear, breast exam, pelvic exam, eye exam and examine your skin for possible lesions or signs of melanoma.
- Get vaccinated: Following menopause, women over the age of 50 should get an annual flu shot, a tetanus shot every 10 years and now the CDC recommends the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, which you only have to take once.
Following these menopause guidelines will have you on the right track to staying healthy.