Enjoy Your Menopause!

March 27, 2010

One Hour of Exercise a Day Keeps the Fat Away

According to new findings by Harvard Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, if a middle-aged or older woman with a normal body mass index wants to maintain her weight over an extended period, she must engage in the equivalent of 60 minutes per day of physical activity at a moderate intensity. 

This dispels the previous theory that at least 30 minute of moderate exercise 3 times a week was sufficient.

It’s true–exercise is a key component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but so is eating less.

While this study may help explain the amount of physical activity a middle-aged woman needs, it fails to address  some other important issues that may or may not play a role in maintaining her normal weight:

1)  At what rate does our metabolism slow down based on our age.  For example, does the metabolism of a 40, 50and 60-year-old slow down at the same pace?

2)  What impact does any medications we take have on our exercise and weight gain or loss?

3)  What role, if any, does a family history play in our ability to lose weight?

4)  How much exercise must we do in order to see definitive weight loss and how long can we expect to sustain it?

5)  Is there a standard caloric intake based on the results of this study?

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January 4, 2010

Baby Boomer Women, Menopause and Memory

Some of us joke about not being able to find or remember things during menopause but have you ever stopped to wonder if you could be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or some other dementia? Do you worry that you are losing your memory, and don’t know what to do about it?

One mental health expert offers these 5 tips to help keep your brain and memory active as you age:

#1. Increase your Fitness

Every time you move your body and raise your heart rate, it increases blood flow to the brain and produces endorphins. Not only are endorphins 50 times more potent than any pain medication, but they also help you feel better. A happier and calmer mind produces lower amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol ( found in high quantities in Alzheimer’s disease). When your mind is quiet, you will retrieve information from your brain more easily. Your immune system is stronger, minimizing your risk of developing degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Doing a variety of activities – at least 30 minutes, 5-7 days a week – stimulates brain growth, reduces boredom and keeps injury rate down.

#2 Good Nutrition

Do you ever hear the expression…”you are what you eat’?

While researching natural remedies for my rising blood sugars and pressure, I discovered that low-glycemic carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) are key. They reduce sugar crashes, and cravings throughout the day; stabilize moods; boosts energy, and takes away the ‘fuzzy’ mind at the end of a work day. To maintain a constant energy level, eat smaller meals and snacks 5 times a day.

The brain requires a balance of:

1. carbohydrates for energy;
2. good fats (omega 3- salmon, almonds, avocados) to nourish brain tissue (brain is 60% fat by solid weight);
3. protein (lean meats, soy, legumes, nuts) for balancing blood sugars, and building our neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine, for mood control. High fiber foods-grains and nuts – are also critical.

The debate over nutritional supplements is ongoing. More research is supporting the benefits of a good multivitamin/mineral to reduce oxidative stresses and to fill the gaps in our diet. Ginkgo biloba, which increases blood flow to the brain, has also been suggested.

Did you know that the brain is 80% water? By drinking 6-10 glasses of water throughout the day, you will feel less fatigue and ‘foggy’ brain moments. Limiting coffee (dehydrating) to 1-2 cups/day, and alcohol, which damages brain tissue, are a good idea.

#3 Brain Exercises

Our brain has a ‘plasticity’ switch – very active in children. When you learn new skills and tasks, it increases the activity in the hippocampus or memory areas. Adults have a tendency to develop routines – drive the same way to work, have tedious jobs, regular daily habits etc.

Turning on this plasticity switch is as easy as brushing your hair or teeth with non-dominant hand; playing a new sport; taking music lessons or using your creativity in a craft. Other ways to stimulate brain cells – puzzles (crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaw); doing simple math, such as mentally adding up your grocery bill while standing in a line-up, or counting backwards from 100 by 2; reading; playing cards; board games…the list is endless.

#4 Meditate, Yoga, Journal

Calming your mind allows you to live in the ‘present’ moment. There are no worries in this moment, allowing you to feel happier and seeing more of the beauty around you.

Meditating (10-20 minutes/day) is relaxing and clears the pathways for information to flow through your mind effortlessly.

Yoga teaches deep, diaphragmatic breathing – increasing oxygen supply to your body and improving lymph flow, which carries away toxins.

Gratitude journal (writing 5 things you are grateful for every day) helps to focus more on the ‘abundance’ in your life. According to the Universal Law of Attraction – whatever you predominantly think about, you will attract more of it.

#5 Have Fun – Laugh

More than once, I have heard that I am the average of the 5 people whom I spend the most time with. Everyone emits energy – some people are more positive than others. If you want to feel happier and energized, spend time with friends who are more optimistic, and fun to be with. It is refreshing to watch children play and laugh. Why do we have to give that up just because we are grown-ups?

Laughing releases endorphins…happy mind = healthy brain.

It is difficult not to continue writing more tips – such as sleeping 6-8 hours/night (I couldn’t resist adding another one) – but I will save those for another time. The number of baby boomers diagnosed with early onset (before age 65) Alzheimer’s and dementia is rising steadily every year. The good news…research and personal experience are showing that, regardless of our age, we can do something to raise the lid on our brain’s potential.

It takes 21 days to establish a habit. Why not start weaving some of these tips into your life today?

October 2, 2009

Oral Sex and Breast Cancer

Filed under: women's health — Beverly Mahone @ 11:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a rather interesting interview.  The doctor was talking about how swallowing semen may help prevent breast cancer.

WHAT?!

Thank God for Google because you know I had to do my own research as a journalist.  Sure enough, there was a report, dating back to 2003, that indicates women who perform the act of fellatio and swallow semen on a regular basis, one to two times a week, may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent. 

The study, conducted at North Carolina State University, involved over 15,000 women suspected of having performed regular fellatio and swallowed the ejaculatory fluid, over a 10-year-period.  The researchers found that those who performed the act regularly, one to two times a week, had a lower occurrence of breast cancer than those who had not. There was no increased risk, however, for those who did not regularly perform.

Dr. A.J. Kramer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research was quoted as saying,  “I am surprised by these findings, but am also excited that the researchers may have discovered a relatively easy way to lower the occurrence of breast cancer in women.”  (I really hope this comment was made by a female).

I wonder how soon it will be before we see men wearing tee-shirts with the slogan “Once a Day Keeps Cancer Away?”

July 20, 2009

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is one of those annoying symptoms of menopause.  Like vaginal dryness, women don’t really want to talk about it–not even to their doctors.  But it is something that should be addressed because it can be a very embarrassing situation if it happens at an inconvenient time. 

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine from your bladder. Some people experience occasional, minor leaks — or dribbles — of urine. Others wet their clothes frequently.

Types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress incontinence. This is loss of urine when you exert pressure — stress — on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy. Stress incontinence occurs when the sphincter muscle of the bladder is weakened. In women, physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can cause stress incontinence. In men, removal of the prostate gland can lead to this type of incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence. This is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. Your bladder muscle contracts and may give you a warning of only a few seconds to a minute to reach a toilet. With urge incontinence, you may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by urinary tract infections, bladder irritants, bowel problems, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, injury or nervous system damage associated with multiple sclerosis. If there’s no known cause, urge incontinence is also called overactive bladder.
  • Overflow incontinence. If you frequently or constantly dribble urine, you may have overflow incontinence, which is an inability to empty your bladder. Sometimes you may feel as if you never completely empty your bladder. When you try to urinate, you may produce only a weak stream of urine. This type of incontinence may occur in people with a damaged bladder, blocked urethra or nerve damage from diabetes and in men with prostate gland problems.
  • Mixed incontinence. If you experience symptoms of more than one type of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence and urge incontinence, you have mixed incontinence.
  • Functional incontinence. Many older adults, especially people in nursing homes, experience incontinence simply because a physical or mental impairment keeps them from making it to the toilet in time. For example, a person with severe arthritis may not be able to unbutton his or her pants quickly enough. This is called functional incontinence.
  • Gross total incontinence. This term is sometimes used to describe continuous leaking of urine, day and night, or the periodic uncontrollable leaking of large volumes of urine. In such cases, the bladder has no storage capacity. Some people have this type of incontinence because they were born with an anatomical defect. This type of incontinence can be caused by injuries to the spinal cord or urinary system or by an abnormal opening (fistula) between the bladder and an adjacent structure, such as the vagina.

When to see a doctor
You may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with your doctor. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, seeking medical advice is important for several reasons:

  • Urinary incontinence may indicate a more serious underlying condition, especially if it’s associated with blood in your urine.
  • Urinary incontinence may be causing you to restrict your activities and limit your social interactions to avoid embarrassment.
  • Urinary incontinence may increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to make it to the toilet.

***Part of this article is courtesy of the Mayo Clinic website.***

Perrie Meno-Pudge Cartoon of the Week

cartoon_3/17/09

June 15, 2009

Getting Rid of Belly Fat

Here we go again.  Someone else has written a book about dieting.  But unlike many of these diet books, this one seems to offer more of an explanation as to why so many of us have bulging bellies and how we can strategically work to get rid of it.

Dr. Louis Aronne explains in his new book, “THE SKINNY: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry” (Broadway Books), written with Alisa Bowman, that the key is your body’s chemistry, not willpower. His solution: teaching your body to stop craving food and feel full sooner.

A leading authority on weight loss and obesity, Dr. Aronne is director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, a multidisciplinary obesity research and treatment center that he developed and founded in 1986. He is clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

According to Dr. Aronne, our bodies are programmed to resist weight loss that goes beyond roughly 7 percent of total body weight. That means that if you weigh 200 pounds, you may be able to lose fewer than 14 pounds before the going gets tough. The reason, he explains, is that the body’s metabolism and weight-regulating hormones — like insulin and leptin — drop faster than your body loses fat, making your brain think your weight is near normal even though you’re still overweight. This leaves dieters hungry, even after they’ve eaten all the calories they need.

To overcome this obstacle, he teaches readers to use the latest advances in the science of appetite and body weight regulation to flip off an internal biological switch that is driving them to eat. Rather than using willpower to force themselves to stop eating, readers use “fill-power”:

Among his specific tips:

* Eat a Protein Breakfast. People who eat breakfast are more successful at losing weight because it helps control appetite and cravings throughout the day. High-protein, low-starch foods like a vegetable frittata are best. Avoid juices that pass through the body too quickly. Eat grapefruit or melon instead.
* Exercise in the morning. Putting off your gym visit until later in the day increases the chances that something will come up to derail your plans. And don’t think of making up for it with a longer weekend session. How often you exercise is more important than the length of each exercise session.
* Eat your salad and vegetables first. Dig into the leafy greens before you start the main course. This will curb your appetite by making you feel full. Other foods to keep you feeling sated include soups and spicy foods.
* Watch less television. By turning off the boob tube you will automatically be more active.
* Look for hidden causes of weight gain. Sleep disorders and medications can cause weight gain. Appropriate management can help with weight loss.

Dr. Aronne says his plan is easy to follow, and can help many people to lose between 10 percent and 20 percent of their weight, and most can lose 7 percent or more. However, he cautions that the weight loss won’t be immediate, and may take several months. The payoff, he writes: “You will know what it feels like to fill up on a normal amount of food. You will eventually be able to stop obsessing about food. You’ll be able to stop forcing yourself to eat less because you’ll eat less automatically.”

Now that sounds like a plan.

June 11, 2009

Irregular Bleeding & Menopause

Filed under: menopause — Beverly Mahone @ 9:04 pm

Irregular bleeding between periods and perimenopause is closely related. When a woman starts experiencing irregular bleeding between periods, she may be in her perimenopause phase.  This irregular bleeding can occur up to menopause. In some cases, periods may be of a short duration, or last longer than usual. Besides, your menses may vary from light to heavy bleeding. Your menstrual periods can suddenly vary between gradually getting lighter, then heavier, and then lighter again. The time between periods may also fluctuate and you might skip some periods.

If you go 12 months straight without a menustral cycle, you are in full blown menopause.

June 3, 2009

Perrie Meno-Pudge Cartoon of the Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 2:15 am
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Cartoon_6/2/09_Rev3

May 4, 2009

A Baby Can Add Years to Your Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 5:52 pm

Women who have babies naturally in their 40s or 50s tend to live longer than other women. Now, a new study shows their brothers also live longer.   

In a study involving participants from Utah and Quebec, it was learned that brothers who had at least three sisters, including at least one sister who gave birth at age 45 or later, were 20 percent to 22 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than brothers who had no “late fertile” sisters.

The study didn’t address how much longevity is due to genetics, but scientists believe genes account for up to 25 percent of differences in longevity. “The new thing here is what most evolutionary biologists long have argued: that survival and reproduction are intrinsically linked to one another.

 
Late Babies Linked to Longer Life for Moms and Blood Uncles

— The study confirmed earlier research showing that women who have babies late tend to live longer.

By looking at the brothers of women who had children late, the study suggests the same age-slowing genes may be responsible for both prolonged fertility in women and longer lifespan in both sexes. The effects of late fertility were strongest for brothers with at least three sisters because the larger the number of sisters, the more likely it is at least one will give birth in middle age.

In the Utah group, brothers with three or more sisters – at least one of whom gave birth at age 45 or older – were 20 percent less likely to die during any given year after age 50 than men without late-fertile sisters.

In Quebec, brothers with three or more sisters – at least one of whom gave birth at age 44½ or older – were almost 23 percent less likely to die during any single year after age 50 than men without sisters who gave birth late.

It is possible social and environmental reasons – good water, good nutrition, a healthy environment – could explain why the brothers and their late-birthing sisters had longer lives. So the researchers also examined the longevity of the brothers’ wives.

They found no increase in lifespan, indicating that heredity – far more than environmental factors played a role in the prolonged fertility and longer lives of the women, and the longer lives of their brothers.

April 26, 2009

Perrie Meno-Pudge Cartoon of the Week

Filed under: menopause — Beverly Mahone @ 2:23 pm
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carton_2/24/09.rev

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