By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
We’re celebrating moms all week since May 8th is Mother’s Day, a holiday near and dear to my heart, as a mom and a daughter. Show yourself or your mom some extra love with the power of information to help her stay healthy for years to come. Women’s health is a big issue and includes a vast array of topics affecting women, spanning the globe. While this list could be huge, I’ve kept to 6 of the main issues plus foods that can help.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top 5 leading causes of death for women are: Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes makes the top 10 at #7. A few key lifestyle behaviors, far too common in modern culture, span across these devastating diseases, upping a woman’s risk. No big surprise these include:
The good news for all the ladies out there is that plant-based diets can help. Plant-based diets can be 100% plants or vegan, or can be predominantly plants, like the many versions of vegetarian diets, including a pescatarian approach.
Juicing and Rebooting fit right in as a fast and easy way to boost your intake of plant foods to help mitigate some risks. But everyone is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan for women but broad guidelines can lay structure for a healthy plan. It’s important to take ethnicity into account when considering risk and the best diet for you. Read this article to learn more about the complex interplay between ethnicity and health; like who’s likely more susceptible to high blood pressure from salt intake. Here are the most common diseases amongst women and ways to fight them.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the United States. Many aspects of heart disease are preventable through diet and lifestyle. Knowing exactly what you should do can feel confusing or frustrating with media madness over what’s truly healthy and what is hyperbole. Like, “Are butter, eggs and coconut oil “good” or “bad” saturated fats?” Read here so you don’t fall for these seven heart health myths.
Wondering what to do? Consume plenty of healthy fats including walnuts, avocado, seeds, and nut butters and avoid unhealthy fats like fried foods, trans fats, and soybean oil. Keep in mind sunshine isn’t just good for the soul, it’s important for your heart too. Speak with your doctor and dietitian to be sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D.
Juicing can be a powerhouse for a strong and healthy heart. Focus on getting a balance of 80/20 veggies to fruits to help keep sugar in check but load up on phytonutrient packed produce like beets, spinach and pomegranates, all shown to help lower blood pressure. Potassium rich fruits and vegetables are great for lowering blood pressure and delicious! Other options include winter squash, melon, avocado, banana and sweet potatoes.
While diabetes may come in seventh for leading causes of death for women, it is a key issue that is often addressable through diet and lifestyle choices. We hear a lot in the media these days about sugar and its inherent evilness, but let’s clear up some common misconceptions and be sure you’re not throwing away that banana or skipping fresh juice because of sugar shock fears! Don’t forget to move more. Physical activity can not only benefit your heart but also helps to naturally lower blood sugar levels.
If you go online, just about any health problem and nagging symptom is caused by your “hormonal imbalances,” but often hormone issues are a natural result of lifestyle choices. Some can be managed by making changes to your eating and exercise habits while others require medical intervention as well. Here are a few common hormone issues affecting women.
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome sufferers typically present a cluster of issues that relate back to the female endocrine system. PCOS is often accompanied by elevated blood sugar or insulin resistance, difficulty with weight management, fertility, skin and hair problems.
Infertility is another common hormonally-based problem but this is certainly not just a women’s health issue! Men can also benefit from lifestyle and diet changes to help boost their fertility as well. Plant-based diet with lots of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies and weight management can help boost chances of conception.
Menopause is one of those hormonal changes that is impossible to avoid! Exercise is a key strategy to lessen hot flashes, as is consuming a healthy diet. Some women find specific foods with phytoestrogens like organic edamame or tofu, chia seeds or ground flax seeds can help, or dietary supplements like black cohosh or Vitamin E. Since vitamins and supplements are not regulated in the US, be sure to speak with your doctor before starting, especially if you regularly take prescription or over the counter medications.
Hypothyroid or underactive thyroid is the most common form of this condition. Women are 5-8 times more likely to have a thyroid disease as compared to men. In fact, 1 out of every 8 women suffers from some form of thyroid disease, with 20 million Americans in total, and 60% of them are unaware they have a thyroid condition. Weight management can be more challenging with an underactive thyroid, which is key for regulating metabolism. But, it is certainly possible with proper diet, exercise, medical intervention and support! Read up on our success stories from our 60 day Guided Reboot for Thyroid Conditions (registration for the next Guided Reboot is happening now!). Beyond weight challenges, there are specific nutrients which can help or hinder thyroid health in persons dealing with this condition. For example, consuming cooked cruciferous veggies like kale and cabbage rather than lots of these healthy veggies either raw or juiced is suggested.
Cancer is the second highest leading cause of death in women living in the United States. While breast cancer is the most common, more women will die from lung cancer. Colon cancer is also more common in women than you may think, especially within certain ethnicities, as the second most prevalent cancer diagnosis in Hispanic women. Follow these tips for a healthy colon, including why to consider wild fish and turmeric as part of your plant-based diet. In 2016, about 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and over 14,000 will die from this disease. Here’s what you need to know about ovarian cancer and lifestyle. In addition to lifestyle, more evidence is cropping up for potential benefits of genetic testing, speak with your doctor to learn more.
Try these cancer-fighting recipes:
While both men and women suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, these are more commonly diagnosed in women; as much as twice the rate. According to Reboot with Joe surveys, depression was the second reason listed for wishing to attend Camp Reboot, with weight loss being the first. Here are 10 simple ways to boost your brain health and 5 foods to help fight depression, including of course…chocolate! Mindfulness can help with weight loss and meditation practice can be more simple than you think, with some healthy guidance.