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?

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

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.

April 21, 2009

Inhaling a Heart Attack?

In case you haven’t heard, heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 40.  We are used to thinking of heart disease as a product of genetic factors or lifestyle choices, such as what we eat and how much we exercise. But now it appears there is another road to heart disease: breathing.

Researchers at the University of Louisville and the University of Michigan say there are a number of studies connecting pollution with heart disease:

• A study of six U.S. cities found that people died earlier when they lived in cities with higher pollution levels. A majority of these deaths were due to heart disease.
• A study of 250 metropolitan areas around the world found a spike in air pollution is followed by a spike in heart attacks.
• A study in Salt Lake City found that when a nearby steel mill shut down for a period of months, there was a 4-6% drop in mortality. The mortality rose to previous levels when the steel mill re-opened.

The people who seem to be most susceptible to environmental pollutants are the people who are already vulnerable, including the elderly and people with coronary artery disease. There is also some evidence that diabetics, women and people who are obese may be at greater risk.

One intriguing statistic is that the risk of heart attack increases in parallel with time spent in traffic the previous day. In animal experiments, researchers found that aldehydes — a toxic class of chemicals found in most forms of smoke, including cigarette smoke and car exhaust — increase blood cholesterol levels and activate enzymes that cause plaque in the blood vessels to rupture. When plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot, which may block an artery and lead to a heart attack.

If you live in an area where pollution levels may be high, doctors say you can take steps to reduce the risk of air pollution.  During times when air quality is unhealthy, exercise indoors, because indoor air is filtered. If you exercise outdoors, particularly if you’re at risk for heart disease, do it when pollutants are at lower levels. Avoid peak traffic times.

February 4, 2009

Let’s Talk About Yeast Infections

Have you ever felt like going somewhere or just walking around the house without wearing any panties?  Some doctors say it’s actually a lot healthier to go without because certain panties have been known to cause yeast infections.  Doctors recommend you go without wearing panties on occasion to allow the vaginal area to “air out.”

So what is a yeast infection?  Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers.  A vaginal years infection means too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina.  These infections are very common and can be bothersome, but are usuallt not serious.

A yeast infection causes itching or soreness in the vagina and sometimes causes pain or burning when you go to the bathroom or have sex.  Another sign is you will notice discolored urine that appears thicker than normal.

You can prevent yeast infections by making sure your vaginal area stays as dry as possible and can “breathe.”

Avoid douches, feminine sprays, scented toilet paper and deoderant tampons. 

And when you do wear panties, make sure they’re cotton, not nylon, and not tight-fitting.  That means NO THONGS. 

 

January 28, 2009

Perrie Meno-Pudge Cartoon of the Week

Cartoon 1/27/2009

January 27, 2009

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is one of the symptoms of menopause but did you also know if can also manifest as a result of diabetes?  Vaginal dryness can also be caused by a chemical allergy to certain soaps, hygiene products, perfume and dyes.

As we age, it becomes even more important to take care of our genitals to help guard against further irritation or complications from the initial dryness. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage vaginal dryness:

Use mild materials when washing
As what has been mentioned above, the most commonly reported cause of vaginal dryness is the use of harsh vaginal wash. If this is the exact reason for your genital dryness, changing to a milder wash can help relieve the dryness. Using plain, warm water can also help restore moisture.

Use water-based lubricants
If vaginal dryness is interfering with your sex life, using water-based lubricants can increase vaginal comfort. It is important to note that you need to make sure that the lubricant is water-based, water-soluble, and contains just the right pH balance that is equal to that of normal body fluid. Note that the pH balance helps prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms such as yeast.

Use moisturizing creams
Although mild vaginal wash helps keep the vagina clean and lubricants help during intercourse, using a mild, formulated vaginal moisturizing cream will help improve the health of vaginal tissues and moisturize the vagina for a longer time. Some formulas help replenish declining estrogen levels in menopausal women. These creams are applied two to three times a week at equally spaced intervals.  According to my good friend Pam Archer, Vitamin E creams work very well.

Vaginal dryness can be a serious issue if not addressed openly and honestly with your partner.

January 25, 2009

Let’s Talk About Sex & Menopause

If you’ve been a reader of my blogs for awhile, you’ll know I’m NOT shy.  I believe it’s important to talk about the issues—no matter how controversial or sensitive they might be.

In an earlier post, my good friend Rosie a.k.a. BloggingBetty (on Twitter) asked me had I written anything about sex as it related to menopause.  Actually, I’ve written a couple of articles:  Middle Age & Intimacy and Not Tonight Honey, I’m All Dried Up.

Sex can be a serious issue when it comes to menopause.  Why?  The lining of your vagina becomes drier and thinner during the menopause. It makes less mucus (the fluid that keeps your vagina moist and healthy). This can cause dryness and itching. Because it is drier, your vagina is more at risk of becoming infected or inflamed, and the vaginal tissue is more likely to tear.

If your vagina is dry, you may find that sex is painful. The outside part of your sexual organs, called the vulva, may also become drier and thinner. These changes are caused by a drop in the levels of estrogen that your ovaries make.  If you’re in menopause and ever experienced bleeding after sex, it is probably due to a tear in the vaginal tissue.

This is a subject some women feel uncomfortable discussing with their husbands but I say if you want to continue to enjoy a healthy and happy sex life, you owe it to your partner to discuss your body changes and get him to work with you on making your intimacy enjoyable and painless.

So now let me ask you this:  Do you honestly think you can discuss vaginal dryness with your husband?  Will he be receptive and understanding

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