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As women, we don’t need to be reminded of just how much we do for the world, especially in the current times we are living in. From child-rearing to being a bread-winner in your own right to making sure all the needs of your loved ones are perfectly met, the classic roles often assigned to women are very tasking.
This article is here to remind you that while you may be a maestro at placing the needs of others before yourself, it’s almost more important to tend to yourself first so you can achieve all you set out to do. The power of the female should not be taken for granted, particularly by ourselves.
Learning to lead a healthy life and keeping your well-being in check are very important to keep shining like the goddess you are! The below women’s health tips will set you on your way to doing just that.
1. Eat to Nurture Your Gut
Many women are obsessed with fad diets and often trying to deprive themselves of food either to lose weight or keep their complexions looking good. Any good dietitian will tell you this idea is total nonsense! We need nutrients to keep our bodies running smoothly as well as looking gorgeous.
The first place to focus on when it comes to your diet is actually the gut itself. Just think about it - the gut comprises of multiple organs that are all designed to extract nutrients from your food to sustain your natural radiance and keep your system functioning. If something is off in there, nutrients will fail to be absorbed and that will only detract from your health!
It is also a well known fact that many nutrients are required to minimize the risk of disease. For women, bone health and lacking certain minerals like calcium seems to be a common problem. Here are a few pro pointers to help keep your gut and diet in tip top shape as a woman:
- Think Green. Green foods, especially leafy greens like kale, spinach, beet tops and avocados are all rich in fiber and plenty of nutrients. One of the main nutrients is magnesium, which is required to keep our calcium levels balanced - a very important consideration for women. Calcium can only remain in our bones if we consume double the amount of magnesium! Magnesium can also help to keep our muscles relaxed, minimize cramps and has been reported to help some females with PMS.
- Less Salt is More. Another nutrient ratio to be aware of is the dance between sodium and potassium. As most people are aware, excessive sodium consumption depletes potassium and elevates our blood pressure, having an impact on our circulation and heart health. Cut down on your salt and eat more potassium rich foods like avocados, tomatoes, bananas and other fruits.
- Care for Your Gut Bugs! Most of us are brought up to believe that bacteria are bad for us, but the truth is that less than 5% of them are - the rest are typically neutral or beneficial! The most beneficial kinds live in our guts and in fact, the majority of our nutrients are not able to be absorbed or processed without their help. To help them thrive, it’s a great idea to consume more probiotic foods as well as fiber which they feed off of. Time to invest in live-cultured yoghurts, sauerkraut, pickled foods and other fermented goodies to boost the life in your gut.
- Brighten It Up. Variety is everything when it comes to your diet, especially when choosing fruits and vegetables. You don’t need a fancy degree to understand that a “rainbow” diet, filled with foods of all colors and types, will increase your nutritional content dramatically and therefore support your entire being, as opposed to just a few parts of it. If we are what we eat, then it makes sense that consuming a rainbow variety will invoke the best of our inner radiance!
- Hydrate. Do you drink 6–8 glasses of water every day? Well, you really should be! Hydration is vital for keeping our energy levels constant and can help to ward off cramps, migraines and fatigue in some cases. Our gut bugs also do best with the combination of both water and fiber, otherwise they battle to do their thing. Herbal teas without sugar, salts, milk or other ingredients can also form part of your daily water intake; many of which offer additional nutritional benefits!
- Stick to Real Food. The less processed foods one consumes, the better! This is perhaps the only real truth that fad dieting trends got correct. Stick away from the junk food and rather learn to prepare wholesome, healthy meals for yourself. Instead of opting for an unhealthy snack, purchase healthier options for yourself that you enjoy such as nuts, seeds and delicious fruits.
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2. Keep Tabs on Those Hormones
Oh, those pesky hormones! Women have always had this reputation for having got the wrong end of the hormonal stick, with emotional fluctuations happening as part of our natural monthly cycle. The highs and lows we experience with our chemistry are unique to that of our male counterparts and that ought to be our blessing, not our curse!
In spite of having these natural fluctuations, it’s very important to know the difference between what’s normal and what’s not. The easiest way to keep tabs on your hormones is to observe your menstrual cycle, which should begin every four weeks (28 days). If your symptoms are extreme - either physically or emotionally - to the point where you can’t function at some point during your cycle, you need to consult with a doctor.
It’s also very important to keep stress under control in order to lead a happy life, free from hormonal imbalances. Cortisol and adrenaline, the “stress chemicals” seem to have an impact on our other hormones and have the potential to make each month a nightmare when out of control.
If you are prone to anxiety or over-stressing, try to take up a cathartic hobby such as art, knitting or playing a musical instrument. Writing down your emotions in a journal can also help lower stress as well as allow you to keep a better tab on your emotions, which tend to reflect our hormones too.
3. Move It or Lose It!
Exercise is important for everyone and has such profound effects on our entire body from head to toe! According to Harvard Medical School, exercise can help to control your appetite, give you more energy, boost your mood and help you to sleep better.
As a minimum recommendation, the CDC suggests that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Breaking up your exercise routine into shorter bursts that don’t over-extend your abilities is better than cramming it all into one session! Rather enjoy a 20-25 minute walk each day than 3 hours of intensive exercise once a week - in fact, the latter can have a bad effect on your health, causing you more stress than good.
Another point to add here is variety. Just like with your diet, varying your exercise routines not only encourages better health for your body as a whole, it helps not to get stuck in a boring rut!
4. Invest in a Skincare Routine
You want to know the secret to looking great? A daily skincare routine! According to an interview with dermatologist Dr Neal Schultz, the most important part of our skincare routine is exfoliation.
Our skin renews itself every 28 days (where have you seen that number before?) with dead skin cells falling off and new ones growing to take their places. However, as we age, the process begins to slow down and sometimes these dead skin cells can remain there for even as long as 3 months! This naturally results in our skin looking older as the surface layers are actually not even alive anymore.
Everyone’s skin is also unique. For some, an exfoliating scrub may be too harsh, while for others, this is a perfect technique. If your skin is too sensitive to exfoliate with a loofa or similar instrument, consider washing your skin with a special soap every day or using a natural clay mask at least once a week.
5. Spend Time in the Sunshine
For most of us, spending time outdoors in the sunshine is not something we budget time for. Yet without some sunshine, your skin will battle to convert dietary Vitamin D2 to Vitamin D3, an essential vitamin that we need to be the goddesses we were born to be!
According to the CDC, spending time outdoors has the potential to lower our stress levels and even improve our metal well-being. However, we don’t need to overdo it either as too much UV exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer. Roughly 10-15 minutes at a time is good for our skin to reach a Vitamin D saturation point - any longer and you may want to apply sun protection.
If you live in an area that gets very hot or experiences high UV levels during the heat of the day, then it is recommended to get sun in the morning before 10am and in the afternoon past 4pm. That way, you minimize your skin’s risk and enhance it’s vitality!
6. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Sleep is critical for all life-forms, regardless of your gender or even species! As human females however, sleep is even more important to maintain. According to Prof. Jessica Mong, PhD, of Maryland University, women are twice as likely to experience sleep disturbances than men, which also increases our risk of experiencing mood disorders like depression.
Sleep disruptions can be another indicator of hormonal imbalances, according to her. Research has revealed that many female sleep disruptions are related to feminine hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone; while hormone replacement therapy appeared to bring the sleeping patterns back to normal.
On the other side of things, sleep deprivation can also add to hormonal troubles. Sleep is so important as it sets the rhythm for our sleep-wake cycle and therefore for everything our bodies do during the day. Make sure you get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night and seek the help of a doctor if you’re battling.
7. Prioritize “Me” Time
Women definitely do not get enough time to themselves on average. “Me” time is very important for managing our stress levels and feeling fulfilled in our lives. You deserve to take some time for yourself and relax, even if it’s just for 3- mins a day.
Every now and then, a complete holiday is also required to avoid total burnout and this fact holds true for both genders.
8. Consult with a Doctor Frequently
Over and above all the tips in this article, the most important one is to consult with your doctor on a regular basis. A good doctor will pick up on early warning signs for disease and improve your chances of enjoying your later years without troubles.
While your doctor ought to know what to test for and at the appropriate times, it helps to educate yourself and have an awareness of these things. The below list of screening tests is here for just that! According to Harvard Medical School, these screening tests are appropriate for the following groups of women:
- Blood Pressure - Test every second year if it falls in the normal range (120/80). If it is above normal, have it checked every year.
- Bone Density - All women above age 65 need to be tested at least once to assess the risk of osteoporosis. If you experience symptoms before that age, discuss testing with your doctor.
- Breast Cancer - Get a mammogram every second year if you’re between the ages of 50 and 75. Your doctor will inform you if it’s necessary after that point.
- Cervical Cancer - A pap test is recommended every three years for all women from 21-65 years of age. After age 30, an HPV test every five years is also recommended.
- Colorectal Cancer - Recommended screening for women between 50 and 75. Ask your doctor which tests or combination of them are most appropriate for your case.
- Diabetes - Get tested if you have elevated blood pressure levels or are taking blood pressure medications for high blood pressure.
- Cholesterol - After age 20, get tested on a yearly basis if you are predisposed to developing heart disease.
- Lung Cancer - Recommended for women between 55–80 years if you have smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or more and are either still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years.
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-  https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/healthy-eating
-  https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/exercise-and-fitness
-  https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/a53481/how-to-exfoliate-your-face/
-  https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/outdoors.htm
-  https://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/womenshealth/Spotlight-on-Womens-Health-Research/
-  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/22/wives-become-less-stressed-after-their-husbands-die-study-finds/
-  https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/screening-tests-for-women