A recent online survey carried out by the Natural Health Advisory Service reveals that 50 percent of women are neglecting their health in midlife and unless they take better care of themselves they risk spending the later years of life overweight, in pain and depressed.
The survey, which was conducted on more than 1200 women between the ages of 35 and 64 to assess their health prospects for midlife, found that lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, alcohol, and smoking seem to be strongly associated with mental and physical health problems.
This survey clearly demonstrated that women who are achieving four or five of the healthy targets had better general health, far more energy, fewer aches and pains and good levels of libido than those who were meeting fewer targets.
The underlying message is that you don’t have to make radical lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life and to overcome the various symptoms of the menopause.
Read on and find out how making a few small lifestyle changes could make all the difference between healthy midlife and one potentially beset with problems.
STUB OUT NOW
Non-smokers have fewer aches and pains, fewer bowel problems, better sleep patterns and are less depressed. Additional benefits: These include fewer hot flushes, sweeter breath, greater lung capacity, smoother skin, better fitness levels not to mention a reduced risk of cancer and many other respiratory disorders.
SMOKERS ACTION PLAN
Make a date and draw up a plan of action, working out which methods are best for you. Throw away all ashtrays, lighters, and tobacco. Change your routine – for example, if you usually have a cigarette with your mid-morning coffee have a glass of juice instead, or give it a break for a couple of days. And try to avoid the shop where you usually buy cigarettes. Stock up on snacks such as sugar-free gum, nuts, raw fruit, and vegetables. Herbal remedies such as valerian may help reduce any anxiety pangs. The more encouragement you get the more successful you are likely to be, so ask your friends and family for their support. Don’t think about becoming a non-smoker. The moment you stub out that last cigarette you are a non-smoker.
Regular exercisers report more energy and less fatigue, as well as better sleep, less anxiety, and depression, plus a reduction in mood swings and good levels of libido. Additional benefits: Exercise can ward off age-related illnesses such as osteoporosis and heart disease and help you to keep a check on middle age spread. What’s more keeping active improves your circulation so your skin will look better and you will feel more body confident.
EXERCISE ACTION PLAN
Aim to exercise for at least half an hour five times a week. Weight-bearing activities, which include any exercise that puts weight through your bones such as jogging, brisk walking, racquet sports, weight lifting, and skipping are the best options. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift whenever possible. Walk to the shops rather than jumping in the car. If traveling by public transport get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Sex is great exercise and research shows those who make love twice a week have fewer hot flushes than those who don’t.
WATCH THOSE TIPPLES
Nondrinkers have more energy, better concentration, fewer mood swings and sleep better. Additional benefits: Watching what you drink (i.e. keeping within the recommended 14 units a week) helps to lower your risk of heart disease as well as a host of other conditions such as digestive disorders, liver disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
DRINKERS ACTION PLAN
Have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water. Don’t drink more than one unit an hour. If you are drinking set yourself a limit of two to three units and keep to it. Stick to pub measures of spirits and dilute them well with plenty of water. Avoid binge drinking (more than eight units in one session).
Fish eaters, especially those who went for oily fish, report more energy, less fatigue, fewer aches and pains, better bowel health and higher libido as well as low levels of depression and anxiety. Additional benefits: Oily fish is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially omega-3, which can help protect against heart disease, boost circulation as well as being vital for a healthy brain and nervous system and promoting healthy skin, hair and nails.
EATING ACTION PLAN
Aim to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. Mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna and pilchards are all good choices. Consider taking a supplement such as cardiozen – with more than 80 % of the fish oil being omega-3, just one capsule a day will address most people’s requirements for this crucial nutrient.
Regular fruit and vegetable eaters are less depressed, experience fewer mood swings, fatigue and aches and pains. They also report good levels of libido. Additional benefits: Green and yellow vegetables and beans are a good source of phytoestrogens – substances similar to human oestrogen which have been shown to benefit menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, as well as helping to protect against heart disease and osteoporosis.
FIVE A DAY ACTION PLAN
Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Keep a food diary for a couple of days to see exactly how much fruit and veg you are actually eating, and then look at ways to sneak in more. Soya beans (and all soya products), flaxseeds, lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds are rich sources of phytoestrogen. Consider taking a phytoeostrogen supplement such as Novogen’s Promensil.
Maryon Stewart studied preventive dentistry and nutrition at the Royal Dental Hospital in London. She established the Woman’s Nutritional Advisory Service in 1987.
She has guided over 1,000,000 women through menopause and helped many of them become symptom free within just 3 to 4 weeks.