HOW TO be a healthy woman at any age

Section: HOW TO

Do certain health, risks, concerns or conditions keep you from looking and feeling your best? Whether it's chronic PMS, a family history of cancer or hot flashes, give your body a total health tune-up with these seven supplement and nutrition suggestions.

1. Decrease Osteoporosis Risk
To lower your risk of osteoporosis, consider decreasing your intake of red meat, coffee (and other caffeinated beverages), alcohol, tobacco and sugar. Increase your consumption of broccoli, chard, kale, yogurt, cheese and other low-fat dairy foods.

2. Improve Insulin Function
A Swedish study found that women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who lost an average of 18 pounds had greater insulin sensitivity. In a separate study, Australian investigators found that diet and regular exercise both improved insulin function and restored ovulation in women with PCOS. And a Duke University study found that moderate exercise with or without weight loss also increased insulin sensitivity.

3. Hot Flashes? Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture may decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes in breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen. It may also help relieve hot flashes in menopausal women.

4. Sidestep a Stroke
Increasing calcium intake may help reduce stroke risk and severity in middle-aged women, according to several studies. And regular exercise, such as brisk walking, has been shown to dramatically lower stroke incidence in middle-aged women.

5. Find Relief from PMS
Try making the following dietary changes:

Limit red meat to avoid its high saturated fat content. Some evidence also suggests that hormones in red meat may contribute to fibrocystic disease and menstrual cramps.
Limit caffeine and alcoholic beverages. Caffeine may increase anxiety and possibly contribute to fibrocystic disease. Alcohol depletes the body of B vitamins, magnesium and calcium — which help reduce PMS symptoms.
Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, leafy greens and legumes. All are excellent sources of fiber and B vitamins.
To help fight water retention, boost your intake of potassium-rich foods, such as sunflower seeds, dates, figs, peaches, bananas and tomatoes. Other natural diuretics include dandelion leaves, artichokes, asparagus, parsley and watercress.
For depression relief, favor foods that raise serotonin and dopamine levels, such as cottage cheese, turkey, whole grains and yogurt.
6. Ward off Colon Cancer
Shore up your magnesium stores to help prevent colon cancer. In a 2006 study of 35,000 middle-aged and older women, those who consumed more than 350mg of magnesium daily had a nearly 25 percent lower risk for developing colon cancer than those who consumed 245mg or less.

7. Protect Your Heart
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other foods, was shown in an ongoing study to be effective at lowering heart disease risk in women.

Author Debra Rouse, ND, is Better Nutrition's new health coach! For our January 2007 issue, "Dr. Deb" will be working with the lucky winner of our Redo YOU Makeover Contest. See p. 55 for details on entering.


By Debra Rouse, ND

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