Seasons of Life

Sept. 26 marks National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Just like seasons change, we change as women. The question is, will we embrace the change or fight it?   Tweet This!

There are three main stages in the life of a woman:

  • young adult
  • adulthood
  • mature age

Several things happen during each season but one thing remains the same: quality of life is dependent on how we take care of ourselves.   Tweet This! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a young adult correlates with a lower risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Generation Y (Millennials, ages 18-38)

  • Incorporating the 5 Pillars of Wellness (exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management and supplementation) into your daily routine is a great way to support a healthy lifestyle.   Tweet This! Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy lifestyle through young adulthood is strongly associated with a low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age.
    • Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories. They are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
    • Fiber is the most underrated nutrient with only about 97 percent of Americans consuming the required amount each day. Fiber has many benefits such as helping to control blood sugar levels, maintaining bowel health as well as normalizing bowel movements.
      • Oatmeal
      • Fruits and vegetables
      • Whole grains
    • Lean meats provide protein, B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium and other minerals and nutrients. Proteins function as the building blocks of muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, and blood. Good examples are the following:
      • Lean ground beef, pork loin or chicken breast
      • Legumes
      • Eggs
      • Nuts
      • Tofu and other soy products
    • Hydration
  • Young adults and adults should be getting around two – three hours of moderate aerobic activity a week and two or more days of muscle strengthening exercise a week.
  • During the latter part of young adulthood, metabolism tends to slow. This is usually due to a decrease in activity levels and loss of lean muscle mass. The most effective way to increase metabolism rates is to preserve and gain lean muscle mass with regular exercise.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding brings new dietary and physical challenges.
    • During pregnancy, there is an increased need for sleep at night, or conversely, a need to nap in short increments throughout the day.
    • Pregnant women need approximately 600 mcg of folate, which is about 200 mcg more than the 400 mcg recommended by the National Institutes of Health, office of Dietary Supplements.
    • It is also important for pregnant women to consume adequate amounts of iron, zinc, Vitamin D, DHA and calcium.
  • Sleep requirements change as you age.
    • Adolescents need approximately nine hours of sleep per night, while young adults need only 7.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep.

Generation X (ages 39-53)

  • Many women complain of increased “tummy” fat as they approach the age of 50. The addition of adipose tissue in the abdomen area is partly due to the reduction in estrogen levels and sarcopenia, which is loss of muscle tissue as part of the natural aging process.
  • Perimenopause commonly begins around the age of 40 but can occur earlier in the aging process. As menopause approaches, estrogen levels begin to drop more drastically. Perimenopause is usually marked by the beginning of menopausal symptoms such as changes in menstrual cycle, hot flashes, mood swings, sleep irregularities, weight gain and headaches.
    • Maca root has been shown to balance levels of hormones and alleviate negative physiological and psychological symptoms.   Tweet This!
  • After age 35, women start to lose bone mass. Eating foods and taking supplements containing calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D helps give bones the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy bones. To negate the loss of bone density, it is important to consume foods and beverages rich in calcium, including:
    • Milk, cheese and other dairy products
    • Tofu
    • Green leafy vegetables

Baby Boomers (age 56+)

  • As women age, the recommendations for exercise increases to about five hours of moderate aerobic activity and two or more days of muscle strengthening activity per week.
  • The deposition of adipose tissue changes location to the waist and hip area.
  • Eye health changes as well. Check out this blog post for tips to support healthy vision, including regular consumption of foods high in lycopene.
  • During menopause, women many women experience hot flashes that can occur as much as once a week to every 30 minutes. Hot flashes can last for minutes or as short as a few seconds.
    • Studies have shown that Maca root and Omega-3 fatty acids may help to balance hormone levels as well as decrease the frequency of hot flashes when taken at the right dosage.   Tweet This!
  • As we age, we may notice that cognitive function may begin to change. Some vitamins and minerals that helps support cognitive health include B12, phosphatidyl serine, folate, bacopa, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Interestingly, sleep requirements decrease as we age. The CDC recommends that men and women of mature age should aim to obtain about six – seven hours of sleep at night plus a daytime nap.
As you make the decision to embrace your season of life, what new things will you implement to enhance your season?*   Tweet This!

*This is not intended to be individualized nutritional advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for specific dietary recommendations.


References

Cdc.gov

Stamler J, Stamler R, Neaton JD, Wentworth D, Daviglus ML, Garside D, Dyer AR, Liu K, Greenland P. Low risk-factor profile and long-term cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality and life expectancy: findings for 5 large cohorts of young adult and middle-aged men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1999 ;282:2012-2018.

Berry JD, Dyer A, Cai X, Garside DB, Ning H, Thomas A, Greenland P, Van Horn L, Tracy RP, Lloyd-Jones DM. Lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease. N England Journal of Medicine. 2012;366:321–329.

Meissner, H. O. et al. Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) Used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women- Clinical Pilot Study.  International Journal of Biomedical Science.  2006; 143–159.