Women and Disease

Heart Disease

This is a big one, and appropriately, first. Recent new research has shown some unsettling information about how different women and men are when it comes to heart disease. Looking at cholesterol, women tend to have higher readings than men, especially after menopause. This makes sense on one level since a woman’s body is equipped to support not just her body and nutrition, but her baby as well. Since cholesterol is the main ingredient for collagen, which is the building block of all cells, it makes sense that there would be higher levels in a woman’s body than in a man’s. Something else to keep in mind: the human brain is close to 70% cholesterol. If you were ever called a fat head when you were growing up, it’s true! We all are fat heads.

Reducing Cholesterol

First off, we need to question the “accepted levels” according to western medicine. We need to do our own research and decide if taking a statin drug (see section on drugs and side effects), like Lipitor™ to lower cholesterol levels is such a great idea. The upside of taking a statin: your LDL levels do go down. Downsides, besides the cost, are numerous:

• Statin drugs interfere with natural enzymes in the liver that regulate our cholesterol production, but do nothing to regulate the cholesterol we take in with our daily diet:

• These drugs also affect the oxygen in your muscles and blood system, so being very tired is a side effect that you have to deal with:

• The oxygen levels also can affect your brain, and your memory:

• A deficit of the building block material for our brain, and other cells can have long term consequences.

Diet alone is usually not enough to reduce LDL cholesterol; it needs to be combined with a regular exercise program. In addition, it is a good idea to also add a high quality supplement that contains omega 3 oils, combined with plant sterols (plant compounds) to help raise the HDL levels, and lower the LDL levels and triglyceride levels. This has been scientifically proven to reduce LDL levels by up to 29%, and triglyceride levels by 26%. You must be sure you are getting the real thing, not some ineffective product. See the Vitamins and Supplement area of my site for more information.

Downside of taking this type of product: none

Upsides are numerous:

• Naturally lowering your LDL cholesterol by working with your body to inhibit the amount of cholesterol you take into your system from your diet;

• No effect on your liver or other organs:

• Added oxygen to your blood stream and muscles:

• More energy:

• Improved brain function:

• Stronger immune system.

How Will I Recognize the Symptoms of a Heart Attack or Stroke?

As far as heart attacks go, women can have the same symptoms as men, …..or none at all, until the heart attack or stroke actually happens. That’s a little scary! Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or, heart disease, is the leading cause of death in the world today. In the US, death rates from CVD in men (aged 35 to 50) are three times greater than in women of the same age. BUT, in later years, when women are in the 60-75 range, the numbers are comparable to the earlier numbers for men. This is in part tied to menopause and the cessation of the monthly period. When this happens, the nutrient rich, iron rich, cholesterol rich monthly flow stops, so the outlet for the excess cholesterol has been stopped. This is speculation, and not totally supported by any long term studies, but it makes sense if you look at the overall functionality of the female body. So the key is to start early with a good diet and exercise program and keep it up for your whole life.

So, What Exactly is Heart Disease?

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), the most common form of cardiovascular disease, usually involves atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), and hypertension (high blood pressure). Atherosclerosis is caused in part by diet and lifestyle. A diet high in saturated fat is a major contributor to these two conditions. They are directly linked together: when you have narrowing and hardening of the arteries, (atherosclerosis), it causes a restricted blood flow which causes hypertension (high blood pressure).

Think of your circulatory system like a garden hose: when you squeeze the garden hose, or use a nozzle, narrowing the space for water to get through, the water comes out in a smaller, higher pressure stream. If you have an old garden hose that has been around for awhile, it is stiff and inflexible, that is how your arteries can become. Not only does that affect your blood pressure, but it affects the ability for you to have complete circulation throughout your arterial and vein systems.

Your Brain and Heart Disease

Another major problem with Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is that it not only strains the heart and circulatory system, but it reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching your cells, including your brain. I will cover a lot of this information in these sections of this site: diet, exercise, weight management, vitamins and supplements, natural alternatives to drugs.

Arthritis

You may have heard the term from the early 20th century: “One child, one tooth.” What this means is that when a woman is pregnant, the baby has first call on the calcium in the mother’s diet. If there is not enough calcium in the diet, it comes out of your bones! There are other issues as well having to do with the child’s health if there are not enough nutrients, like calcium, in the mother’s diet, see: children’s health.

So what does this mean to you? It means that women are more susceptible to health problems like arthritis and brittle bones. We all know of some elderly person who fell and broke their hip or arm. That’s brittle bones and low bone density. It doesn’t get “better” with age, it gets worse, and is a key component of aging health and wellness.

Start NOW! If you read about nutrition and aging, in my aging health and wellness area, you will find some information that should get your attention. We will all age, even though I know some people who still seem to think that all these things will happen to everyone but them! How you age is largely determined by you, and by how you take care of your health throughout your life.

Positive Steps You Can Take

Begin with the most important key: changing your diet. Take small, simple steps:

• Reduce high fat foods

• Eat smaller portions, smaller meals throughout the day

• Track what you are eating on a weight management site.

Get on a manageable exercise program, one that will challenge you, not one that will cause injuries. The key is moderation, and a gradual building up of strength, endurance and bone density:

• Walk

• Jog

• Swim (this is a wonderful “all over” exercise that helps joint flexibility)

• Aerobics

• Lift weights

• Do yoga or stretching

Return To Home Page

Return to Womens Health and Wellness