5 Things You Need to Know About Women’s Health

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Ladies, it’s all about you this week!

From diet to pregnancy to oral and mental health, the Office of Women’s Health hosts a week filled with events and education initiatives to get women proactive about their well-being.

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There are many aspects of health to consider when working towards optimal living.  Daily pressures coupled with busy schedules often means that we’re putting our health last on the priority list.

This week offers the perfect opportunity to put a spotlight on your health and well-being, to hopefully learn something new that will inspire you to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Here are 5 things you need to know about women’s health to start:

  • Nearly 2 out of 3 women 20yrs and older are overweight or obese. Studies with Mexican-American women show that they are 40% more likely to be obese than their white counterparts.
  • Less than half of US women are getting enough aerobic exercise and only 20% are doing muscle-strengthening activity, making women more likely to develop heart disease and cancer (along with contributing to obesity and diabetes). Latinos are 30% less likely to engage in exercise than their white counterparts.
  • Smoking causes 80% of lung cancer deaths among women in the US. On the plus side, Latinas have lower smoking rates comparably, and they’re less likely to smoke during pregnancy.
  • Women are much more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. According to the CDC, Latina teens are the most likely group to consider suicide.
  • Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US, with over 75% of women 40-60 yrs old having at least one risk factor. On average, Latinas are more likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than their white counterparts.

Did any of these facts surprise you?  What will you change to lead a healthier life?

The Office of Women’s Health also put together these great infographics with helpful tips on how to take care of yourself in all aspects of health.

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 Cited:

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

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Lose Sleep and You’ll Lose Your Mind and Health

We’ve all heard about the importance of sleep to our health and well-being at one point or another. It seems that I have someone pleading for me to get more sleep more than once on a daily basis. Oprah, Arianna, Mom…I hear you.

But the science behind sleep is a murky world. As much as we’ve come to learn about what happens to our bodies when we sleep, there’s still a lot we don’t know. The popularity of fitness trackers led to a great demand for sleep tracking as well, which some devices reportedly do for you. What do we do with that data though? How much sleep is enough sleep?

The answers vary and although I’m skeptical about the sleep tracking capabilities of fitness devices, the truth is that most of us are interested in understanding how sleep affects us.

In a recent study published in the journal Science, researchers revealed that sleep acts like a mental janitor, cleaning out all the ‘junk’ we accumulate during the day. If we can clean out our computers’ caches by deleting cookies on a regular basis, why can’t we give our brains that same attention?

So it was a bit of a shock to come across this infographic below and see just how destructive lack of sleep can be to your health in both the short and long-term. We like to think that we can “catch up” on sleep when the weekend hits, but the damage has already been done.

Insufficient sleep negatively impacts cardiovascular health, cognition, emotional well-being and encourages some of the most harmful behaviors that pose a major mortality risk. Some are even going so far as to call it a public health epidemic.

Diabetes? Stroke? Obesity? Increased cancer risk? Potential accidents when driving while exhausted? These are just some of the side effects that lack of sleep offers. And this doesn’t take into account how this may affect your relationships, career, and personal happiness.

The majority of significant sleep studies are performed on white adults with a smaller proportion of African-American adults. Various cultural and language barriers are obstacles to a closer analysis of US Latinos’ sleep health, but given the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and hypertension among Latinos, this raises questions about the role of sleep, or lack thereof, in further exacerbating these conditions.

Take a look at the infographic below, shared by Huffington Post, and consider how your exhaustion (because I’ll bet that most of you do not get enough sleep on a regular basis) may impact your life.

courtesy Huffington Post

How much sleep do you get each night?

How does lack of sleep affect your efforts to maintain healthy eating and fitness habits?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share in the comments section below, or on FB and Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Go Red for Women’s Heart Health

Don’t save that red dress for Valentine’s day. Flaunt that color today, National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness about women’s heart health as part of the National Heart Health initiative by the American Heart Association this month.

You may not realize it, but heart disease is not just a problem for men. Take a look at this graphic below, courtesy of the American Heart Association:

High cholesterol, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity are all contributors that increase your risk for heart health problems, in both men and women. But what makes women susceptible than men?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk factors for heart disease vary from men on these points:

  • Metabolic syndrome — a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides — has a greater impact on women than on men.
  • Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment, so talk to your doctor if you’re having symptoms of depression.
  • Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
  • Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels (small vessel heart disease).

Latinas are at an even greater risk for heart disease than their white counterparts. Higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and inactivity within the Latino community increase the likelihood of poor heart health and may lead to disease.

The American Heart Association shared these facts with me:

Facts You Didn’t Know About Latinas and Heart Disease

o   Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.

o   Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.

o   Only 3 in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed that they are at a higher risk.

o   Only 1 in 4 Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.

o   Hispanic women are more likely to take preventive actions for their family when it comes to heart health.

It is absolutely crucial that you take your heart health seriously, now more than ever. Wearing red today is one way to raise awareness in your community, but how can you take a step towards reducing your risk of heart disease?

There are 6 major risk factors for heart disease that you can modify or control: Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes. Making healthier lifestyle choices will have loads of benefits for your health, especially for your heart.

Here are some tips to get you started towards good heart health:

Get moving! Remember, your heart is a muscle and the more you move your body, the stronger your heart will get over time. People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease than do sedentary people. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense exercise at least 5 days a week. Take a dance class. Go for a hike. Join your friends on a bike ride. Make it fun to keep yourself motivated and consistent.

– Heart-healthy eats. Key words to keep in mind: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low cholesterol and low fat foods.

  • Balance your diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to benefit from the vitamins and minerals that contribute to good heart health. Stick to whole fresh produce as much as possible and be sure to avoid fruits or vegetables that are canned with high sodium or high sugar syrups.
  • Recent studies show that 39% of people ages 18 and under, and 42% of adults don’t eat whole grains at all . Eating foods high in dietary fiber, such as whole grain products, may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and will also help maintain your weight. Skip the bagels and breakfast pastries for breakfast and try oatmeal or whole wheat bread instead.
  • Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol are almost guaranteed to raise your blood cholesterol and your risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack. Your body needs fat, in addition to carbs and protein, for energy so don’t skip it altogether. Choose heart-healthy fats (aka MUFAs or monounsaturated fats if you want to get technical) such as extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. Be sure to keep this in moderation folks.

Kick the smoking habit. According to the AHA, cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by increasing blood pressure, making it harder for you to tolerate regular exercise, and making it more likely for blood to clot. Smoking also decreases the levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) in your blood, otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol that may lower your risk for heart disease. There are many many good reasons to quit smoking, but the impact it has on heart health tops the list.

Wear red and talk to your friends, your neighbors, mothers and daughters, coworkers and social network: spread the word about the importance of heart health, not just today, but everyday. Set the example and pay it forward.

Here I am, showing off my red. Even my cell phone gets in on the action.

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Are you wearing red today?

How are you celebrating Heart Health month? 

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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