A Woman’s Guide to Health

A Woman’s Guide to Being Her Best

Every woman wants to look and feel her best, no matter what her age. Whether she’s a 20-year-old college co-ed, or a

We Need To Understand How Our Bodies Change @ Every Age

55-year-old first-time grandmother, a woman wants–and needs–to be operating at peak capacity physically, mentally, and emotionally. The question is, how? In the newly released book, The Women’s Health Diet, (Copyright © Rodale, 2011) by Steve Perrine, with Leah Flickinger and the editors of Women’s Health, readers are told that the best way to accomplish this goal is to give well deserved attention to their personal health, nutrition, and fitness.

In addition, readers are encouraged to understand how their bodies change over the first few decades of adulthood, and learn how to anticipate these physiological shifts in order to adjust their health and fitness routines to better meet their changing needs.

The decisions we make today about how to care for our bodies will affect us now and long into the future. The Women’s Health Diet, (Rodale,2011) provides decade-by-decade details of the most important, age specific, physiological changes women will experience; and also tells readers how these changes can actually be advantageous to building their best body possible – no matter what their age.

Steve Perrine, editor-at-large for Men’s Health magazine and author of both The Men’s Health Diet (Copyright © Rodale, 2011) with Adam Bornstein, Heather Hurlock, and the editors of Men’s Health; and The Women’s Health Diet, (Rodale, 2011) shared with The 700 Club’s ageless co-host, Terry Meeuwsen, some of the major changes the female body experiences in her 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

Perrine then offered strategies a woman could use to work those changes to her advantage, build her best body possible, and help herself transition into the next decade of life and beyond! Following is a decade-by-decade overview of the topics discussed during their interview.

Your 20’s

1. Your High-Stress Lifestyle:
Whether it’s the stress of late-night study sessions for college finals, long workdays at the job, or the life-altering event of becoming a new mother, a woman in her twenties runs the risk of developing a “diet of convenience” – one filled with fast-food; highly processed food; over-sized, over-fat, and over-salted restaurant food; and topped off with sugar-laden, mega-caffeinated beverages.
The result is a diet lacking in vitamins and minerals, unable to adequately support the mental and emotional needs of a busy lifestyle or properly build a woman’s body to its full potential. Your Plan: in addition to the obviously needed changes, Perrine recommends that women in their twenties consume a tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily. Ground flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on cereals and salads, or mixed into yogurt, smoothies, and shakes.

2. Your Blood Sugar:
Women’s Health recommends that women in their 20’s get a fasting blood glucose test once a year. If your blood glucose level is in a pre-diabetic range, lifestyle changes can be made that will help in preventing the disease. Your Plan: Exercise for 30 minutes each day and lose 5 percent of your body weight by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber to reduce your risk of developing diabetes – by as much as 58 percent!

3. Your Belly:
The area around your middle can be an effective indicator of being overweight. To be more accurate, use the body mass index (BMI) to determine if you have entered a danger zone. Your Plan: Measure yourself every three years or whenever you feel you have gained weight using the BM — scores between 18.5-24.9 are normal.

4. Your Life: The number-one cause of death for women in their 20’s is “unintentional injuries.” The leading cause of accidental death for otherwise healthy young women are car crashes and, of those crashes, the number of those crashes caused by driver inattention has risen 21 percent in the last 5 years. Your Plan: Stop multitasking while driving!
Turn off your cell phone, your book reader, and any other texting device.
Do not eat while driving and never, never, never apply makeup while behind the wheel.

Your 30’s

1. Your Skin: Oil production on your face slows by about 10 percent over the decade; facial skin thins about 10 percent as well. Sun damage starts to show up appearing as crow’s feet and forehead furrows. Due to a loss of collagen, skin also begins to sag. Your Plan: Avoid working or exercising outside between 10am and 4pm, this way you can avoid the most damaging UVB rays. Wear protective clothing such as ball caps and big-brimmed hats. Wear sunscreen daily on skin regularly exposed to sunlight, i.e.: face and hands.

2. Your Metabolism: Beginning at age 30, unless measures are taken to stop or reverse the trend, women will lose 10 percent of their total amount of muscle on their bodies over the next 20 years. Even if there is no change on the scale, there will be a change on your body – three pounds of muscle will mysteriously disappear and three pounds of fat will magically appear every decade! And remember, a pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of lean muscle!

Your Plan: Get out the weights! An increase in muscle mass through a regular program of resistance training (with hand weights or resistance bands) can help you avoid such a fate.

3. Your Blood Pressure: On average, a person’s systolic blood pressure rises 4 points per decade, generally due to obesity, lack of physical activity, and/or high salt consumption. Recently, researchers from the Netherlands discovered that a low-potassium diet (common to the average American woman in her 30’s) was the primary cause of hypertension. Your Plan: To protect yourself from a diet too low in potassium, include ½ cup cooked beans, a banana, and a handful of raisins to your diet daily; each will add approximately 400 milligrams a day. Test your blood pressure at least once a year and become familiar with what your numbers should be in order to prevent developing high blood pressure.

Your 40’s & Beyond!

1. Your Wrinkles: It becomes more difficult to ignore the crow’s-feet and “expression lines” across your forehead in your forties, and the loss of collagen creates all-new wrinkles to form! Moisture production also drops an additional 10 percent. What’s a woman to do? Your Plan: Soothe drying skin with extra emollient night cream. Use a night cream that includes one of the following active ingredients: retinol (vitamin A), antioxidants, vitamin C, or peptides.

2. Your Skin: This is the time when previous sun damage can become dangerous – even deadly!
Your Plan: Check for sun damage by regularly examining your freckles, sunspots, birthmarks, and moles. Don’t be nonchalant when it comes to searching for areas of possible skin cancer – if found early, or in its precancerous state, it can easily be treated. Visit a dermatologist annually for a full-body exam – cancerous lesions have been found hiding between toes! Eat 2 servings every week of foods high in carotenoids, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe.

Research says that people who have a high intake of “carotenoid” foods per week were as much as six times less likely to develop skin cancer than those with a low intake.

3. Your Vision: This is the time when two eye conditions that can lead to vision loss – cataracts and macular degeneration – can start to develop. Your Plan: Eat foods high in lutein to help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. This can be accomplished by eating 2 servings of greens each day; a serving equals ½ cup cooked spinach, ½ cup cooked broccoli or ½ cup cooked Brussels sprouts. Get an annual eye exam and every two years have your eyes tested for glaucoma.

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