Women’s Health Alert: Take Some Time For You

Women’s health concerns often take a back seat to the other demands in their lives. That’s because women are biologically, socially and emotionally programmed to be nurturers. We juggle careers, husbands, children, aging parents, friends, co-workers, household chores and volunteer activities.  The fact of the matter is that the typical woman today finds time in her schedule for just about everybody except herself. When you neglect your own health you increase your risk of developing serious health problems and compromise your ability to nurture those you love.

Some of the major health concerns facing women include:

Heart Disease: Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, a woman dies from heart disease every 34 seconds. One in five females in the United States will have some form of heart disease. Although more men die of the disease than women, females tend to be underdiagnosed, often to the point that it’s too late to help them once the condition is discovered.

Breast cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women in this country will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women (behind lung cancer).  Although family history plays a small role in breast cancer risk, 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history of the disease.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a major health concern for an estimated 44 million Americans According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in their lives. Statistics show that 10 million people already have the disease and almost 34 million more have low bone mass, putting them at increased risk. Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and can lead to increased risks of bone fractures, particularly in the hip, spine, wrist and ribs.

Depression: Statistics show that depression affects twice as many women as men. One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life. Although it is normal to feel a bit “down” from time to time, people with clinical depression experience overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss or anger that can interfere with their ability to function in their daily lives.  In severe cases sufferers have such significant symptoms that they have trouble performing basic tasks such as getting out of bed or going to work.

Obesity:  While it may not be considered a disease in and of itself, obesity sets the stage for many life-threatening diseases including heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, stroke, colon cancer and many others. For women, the statistics are particularly alarming. According to the American Heart Association, the incidence of obesity among American women has grown by 15 percent in the last decade. Left untreated, obesity will negatively affect the quality and length of your life.

Now that we have the scary statistics out of the way we can focus on the good news: Many of women’s most serious health threats can be mitigated with healthy choices and some minor lifestyle changes. While there are some disease risk factors, like family history and environmental toxins that are beyond our control there are many proactive steps we can take to protect our health. Exercise and proper nutrition are particularly important.

A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free milk as well as lean meats, poultry and fish. Aim for organic foods that don’t have health-draining additives and empty calories. In a perfect world we would get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat but with busy lifestyles, depleted minerals in the soil and limited availability of certain fruits and vegetables it is difficult to get everything we need from our diets. That is why millions of women take nutritional supplements to keep their bodies strong and healthy and reduce the chances of developing diseases. Because women’s nutritional needs will vary during different stages of their lives it is a good idea to talk to your holistic practitioner to determine the supplements that best meet your current needs.

Most women enjoy their role as nurturers and derive genuine pleasure from taking care of the important people in their lives. Just bear in mind that you can’t take proper care of others if your own body isn’t functioning at its fullest potential. Carve out some time for yourself so that you will have the health and vitality it takes to make a difference in the lives of others.

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