A Special Look At Women's Health
Although men and women are susceptible to many of the same diseases, the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of women's health concerns can vary greatly from those of men. Because these differences have finally been recognized by modern medicine, a special "Women's Health Month" has been designated to help educate and inform physicians and the general public.
Women's Health Concerns
Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, although for many years it was mistakenly thought that women were less susceptible to heart disease. Cancer is # 2, with lung cancer (not breast cancer), being predominant. Stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis are also major women's health concerns. Menopause and peri-menopause aren't diseases, but female hormone changes can cause many uncomfortable side effects and may predispose to other illnesses (such as osteoporosis) and premature aging. SO, let's explore some simple ways to prevent common women's health problems. (Don't worry, gentlemen---- I'll have plenty to say about men's health in upcoming newsletters!) .....
What Women Need: The Basics
1.) A High-Quality Daily Multiple Vitamin/Mineral Supplement
Optimal (not just minimal) doses of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants should be the foundation of every good health program. Such optimal doses of nutrients are virtually impossible to obtain from diet, even a "good diet," because modern food processing and agricultural practices have left our food supply depleted. In addition, we are exposed to many more pollutants, stresses, impure water and contaminants in our environment, increasing our need for these protective antioxidants.
Taking vitamins is a wise health and prevention measure. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals cause many diseases. Adding vitamins and minerals in supplemental form is an inexpensive "insurance policy" against some of the worst diseases of modern times. Consider just a few reasons to take a good multiple vitamin/mineral formula:
A deficiency of antioxidant vitamins and minerals (especially beta carotene, vitamins C & E, and selenium) is associated with higher incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, mouth, lungs and skin. Some researchers believe that antioxidant vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be related to higher incidence of all cancers.
A mineral deficiency, especially magnesium and potassium but also calcium, is associated with high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia.
Deficiencies of vitamins E, C, B6, B12, folic acid (a B vitamin), and bioflavonoids are associated with cardiovascular disease. The connection between vitamin E and heart health is so well established that conventional medical cardiologists are instructed to recommend vitamin E to their patients.
Healthy bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis, depend on sufficient levels of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes (high blood sugar) occur more frequently in people who are chromium deficient. After diabetes is present, low levels of vitamins A, C, E, plus zinc, selenium, choline, bioflavonoids and B complex vitamins are associated with more complications from the disease.
This list could go on for pages, but you get the idea. Deficiencies of key vitamins and minerals are correlated with disease. The best health insurance may not be an expensive medical policy, but the addition of sufficient vitamins to fill in the gaps in our day-to-day nutritional status.
2.) Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids, especially Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, are an absolute requirement in the human diet, hence the term "essential." The American diet is grossly deficient in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Flax and fish oil are the primary sources of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids.
Deficiencies of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids contribute to subtle body-wide inflammation which in turn is associated with over 60 known diseases including: overweight and obesity, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, psoriasis and eczema, high blood pressure.
The list above mentions only a few of the 60+ diseases associated with Essential Fatty Acid deficiency! Daily supplementation of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids is one of the healthiest choices one can make to prevent these many Essential Fatty Acid deficiency-associated diseases. The Essential Fatty Acids are SO important that the U.S. Government officially recommended in 2003 that Americans get more Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids in their diet.
3.) Extra Bone Nutrients. (Calcium/magnesium/vitamin D and boron)
Vitamin D and magnesium are two extremely common American dietary deficiencies. In addition to their importance for heart-health, these nutrients, together with calcium, are also needed to keep bones strong and prevent or reverse osteoporosis. Women also have a higher requirement for calcium than men.
In elderly women, death from complications of hip fracture are nine times more common than death from breast cancer, yet few people realize the potential seriousness of this disease. Although osteoporosis is more common in post-menopausal women, it also occurs in men and in all age groups. White and Asian women are at greatest risk because their bones tend to be less dense to begin with. The current guidelines recommend 1,000mg per day of calcium (and corresponding amounts, about 1/2, of magnesium) for pre- and peri-menopausal women and 1,500mg per day for post-menopausal women.
Beyond the Basics: Female Hormone Balance
Those areas of women's health that pertain to the sex hormones and female sex organs vary greatly from those of a man. Maintaining the correct balance of female sex hormones is one of the unique and most important aspect of a women's health.
Normal weight is crucial to hormone balance. Fat cells manufacture estrogen. This can lead to an excess of estrogen in both men and women. Maintaining normal weight is important for balanced hormones. This is believed to be the reason that hormone-related cancers (breast, uterine, endometrial) are seen more frequently in overweight and obese women.
Although synthetic and horse-urine derived hormones have been the standard in conventional medicine for years, such forms of hormone replacement therapy are unsafe. Higher risk of heart disease and hormones-related cancers are the most worrisome side effects of conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Most holistic physicians prefer to use natural HRT (nHRT), an alternative that actually reduces the risk of heart disease, hormone related cancers, osteoporosis and premature aging.
Those seeking self-help measures should try the following approach to hormone balance. If symptoms persist (hot flashes, depression, loss of libido, skin aging, bone loss, elevated cholesterol or heart disease), then consultation with an holistic physician and determination of a customized natural hormone Rx. should be considered.
Herbal Help for Hormone Balance
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) has long been used in traditional medicine for relief of menstrual cramps and hot flashes. Western medical studies have confirmed Black cohosh's estrogenic effects.
- Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) has known estrogenic effects coupled with the ability to stabilize blood vessels. This "stabilization" is believed to be partly responsible for menopausal hot flash relief.
- Chasteberry (Vitex angus-castus) helps normalize sex hormone levels by acting on the pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
Natural Progesterone for Osteoporosis Prevention
Natural hormone precursors are being discovered to be safer and more effective than synthetic hormones. Many studies have shown that progesterone is more important than estrogen in preventing and reversing osteoporosis. Symptoms of progesterone deficiency include: fluid retention, bleeding between periods, polymenorrhea (abnormally frequent periods - every 2-3 weeks), hypermenorrhea (heavy periods), endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts. In a post-menopausal female, symptoms can include hot flashes and fluid retention.
Dr. Myatt's "Healthy Woman" Protocol
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Diet: eat a diet high in nutrient-rich foods.
- Achieve and maintain a normal weight.
- Exercise regularly. 30 minutes, 3 times per week minimum.
- Don't smoke! The climacteric (menopause) occurs sooner in women who smoke. (Heart disease and cancer risk are also greatly elevated by smoking).
- Maxi Multi optimal dose multiple vitamins: 2 capsules, 3 times per day with meals OR Nutrizyme with iron: 1 tab, 3 times per day with meals (ONLY for women who have been told by their doctor to take iron for anemia).
- Max EPA (fish oil): 1-2 caps, 3 times per day with meals. (take the higher dose if you do not eat salmon, mackerel or herring at least twice per week). Flax oil is also beneficial but requires a biochemical conversion in the body, which is deficient in many people, so fish oil is more certain.
- Cal-Mag Amino: as needed to increase calcium intake to 1,500mg per day (post menopausal) or 1,000mg per day (pre and peri-menopausal). Maxi Multi contains 1000mg calcium & 500mg magnesium. Post menopausal females take 3 caps per day with meals in addition to Maxi Multi.
Additional Support for Hormone Balance
- Black Cohosh Plus+ : 1-2 capsules, 3 times per day as needed. When symptoms improve, decrease the dose to the smallest amount needed to maintain wellbeing.
- Natural Progesterone Cream one pencil-eraser sized dab of cream, rubbed into the wrist, inner thigh or abdomen, 1-2 times daily or as needed to control hot flashes. Decrease the dose when symptoms subside and maintain the lowest dose needed to maintain wellbeing.
Given a little bit of proper care and attention, your body will serve you well for many years. I guarantee you'll be delighted at the improved health, energy and vitality you will experience from making a few small changes in your diet, supplements and lifestyle.
Please write and let me hear about your successes!
Yours In Health,