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May 15, 2007 [Volume 1, Issue 10]

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Nutrition for Women: A Woman's Guide to Lifelong Health

A variety of factors affect a woman's nutritional needs, including menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause and menopause. Due to these factors, extra attention should be given to a healthy diet and a few key nutrients, the most important of which are calcium, folic acid, fiber, iron and fluids.

Nutrition in your 20s: In your 20s, you need extra calcium to keep bones strong, especially if you are physically active. Soy also has been shown to protect against cancer and heart disease. How a woman eats in her 20s will determine how healthy she will be later in life.

Nutrition in your 30s: Many women are putting off having children until their 30s. During this period of time, a woman needs extra vitamins and amino acids. Making sure she gets enough folic acid is a must. This can be done by eating green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, asparagus and collard greens, to name a few. She should stay away from foods and lifestyle choices that could be harmful to her fetus.

Nutrition in your 40s: As a woman hits 40, her needs change dramatically. A woman's metabolism begins to slow down and, depending on her lifestyle choices in the past, she also could be losing important minerals and vitamins. To help speed up her metabolism, she needs to eat small meals every four hours throughout the day and incorporate daily exercise into her schedule.

Nutrition in your 50s and beyond: Bone loss speeds up at this point, so calcium becomes particularly important. Calcium is important to maintain a normal heart beat and regulate blood pressure. Weight-bearing activity (resistance training) is very important in helping prevent osteoporosis and keeping bones strong. Once estrogen levels decline following menopause, a woman's need for heart-protective foods increases.

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What Does Your Pain Tell You?

You feel pain for a reason. Migraines, muscle cramps, backaches, and neck and shoulder pain are often warning signs of a more ominous problem. But too many people ignore their pain or take medication to mask the symptoms. Here are some potential pain sources to consider:

  • Toxic Pain. Your headache may be caused by an increased level of sugar in your bloodstream or some other toxic situation. For some people, red wine does it. Don't just assume it's pain you can ignore.
  • Poor-Posture Stress. If you have chronically poor posture, you are going to have additional stresses on your joints and muscles that can cause pain in your head, neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs. Your posture also can be compromised when you sleep. Poor mattresses and pillows could be the culprits.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies. Research studies suggest most people don't get all of the nutrients they need from the food they eat. This is partially due to the processed nature of our diets and the poor menu choices many of us make. Your pain, particularly if it is chronic, could have its roots in a nutritional deficiency.
  • Muscle Strain. You use your muscles every day. Sometimes, you use muscles you haven't used in years. Mild muscle strain can occur on occasion, particularly if your muscles aren't getting the exercise they need. If you aren't exercising regularly, you are allowing your muscles to slowly weaken and atrophy. The consequence: You can expect to suffer more frequent muscles strains.
  • Musculoskeletal Pain. Your spinal column and all of your joints are designed to move in specific ways. They also enjoy a certain amount of elasticity that allows them to extend beyond their normal range of motion, providing flexibility, stability and shock absorption. Injuries or abnormal movement patterns can create points of restriction or "subluxations" that can cause pain and reduce your mobility.

Your pain's cause may not be what you assume. A health care professional whose orientation does not focus on administering drugs, such as a doctor of chiropractic, will be better able to find out the core cause of your pain. Since you are a vital component of your overall health, do your part to achieve long-term wellness. After all, it's your body.

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Open Up to Full-Body Health

People fear the dentist more than any other medical professional. There's something about the sharp tools and high-pitched hum of the drill that makes us dread those biannual visits. But recent reports suggest your dentist can offer you far more than a great smile. Those teeth cleanings also may help prevent diabetes, stroke, low birth weight in babies and heart disease.

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that as many as 80 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. Researchers found that like obesity, inflammatory periodontal diseases may increase insulin, which is a major issue for diabetics. Proper dental care can combat complications of diabetes and may reduce inflammation throughout the body associated with various health problems.

Here's the science: If people fail to brush their teeth or floss, bacteria build up between the teeth, migrate into the bloodstream and clog arteries. By improving the expansion of the blood vessels and allowing better blood flow, treating gum disease may diminish the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

You already know going to the dentist is essential for healthy teeth and gums. Now that good dental health also means full-body health, you have two good reasons to overcome your fears and schedule regular checkups.

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