Aging and Women’s Health

pinkorchidnursinghomeDr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor is associated with the study of hormone replacement therapy for mid-life women. She discovered through a longitudinal study by the National Institutes of Health, the Women’s Health Initiative, that long-term hormone replacement therapy does not benefit most women and has a high correlation to stroke. We now know that hot flashes are heart healthy and an important process of strengthening our cardiovascular system. She has other recommendations, too, and speaks on health issues as they relate to women.

Vitamin D: This vitamin is essential and often prescribed for us. Here’s a catch: there are several kinds of vitamin D available in the stores and scientists do not know which one is best or if all must be taken. What we do know is the vitamin D our body manufacturers from the sun is ideal. Dr. Barrett-Connor recommends some sun each day if possible (she lives in San Diego), which she takes in by wearing shorts or a sleeveless shirt while she walks. The receptors in our skin that absorb vitamin D are in the thickest parts of our skin like our legs or upper arms, also our backs. Our hands and faces have thin skin and do not accommodate sunlight well.

Metabolic Syndrome: this is a combination of weight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL, high glucose. There’s increasing evidence that this combination is lethal and needs immediate attention. She recommends avoiding: smoking, salt and sweet drinks as a good first step.

Medications: Medicate what is essential but nothing more. For example: medication for high blood pressure is important and often under treated. We now know that high blood pressure may be the single greatest cause of non-genetic Alzheimer’s. When it comes to any medication, Dr. Barret-Connoroffers this advice: “Question your doctor. Take control of your health. Learn about your risk factors. Understand the side effects of any medications you are taking.”

Here are her top five favorite health tips: exercise, eat more often (six tiny meals instead of three, this is particularly helpful to aging women), eat a little of everything with emphasis on colorful fruits and veggies and small amounts of protein, get vitamin D, learn to relax and refresh, get a good night’s sleep She also suggests that moderate amounts of wine, chocolate, caffeine are fine. Recommended: Omega 3, lycopene in cooked tomatoes and potassium in bananas (or any food with potassium).

Lastly: love your partner or even a pet and make good health your number one priority.