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As women grow and age we encounter different health issues. Rude Health looks at the main issues we face and gives great expert advice for helping ourselves naturally

20s

“Luckily women in their 20s don’t face many health problems as they are usually in peak health,” says Angela McGlanaghey of health store Simple Simon in Donegal town. “But some issues that may occur at this young age are things like hay fever, respiratory issues or asthma.”

“Hay fever occurs when the body has an allergic reaction to pollen causing the immune system to go into overdrive to protect itself causing runny nose, itchy eyes, tickly throat and congestion,” says Lucy Kerr at health store The Good Earth in Kilkenny. “Vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system and has an anti-histamine effect; omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect; quercetin is a bioflavanoid found in fruits and vegetables which has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is also common in this age group. Symptoms can vary from acne, tender breasts, fatigue, bloating, irritability and mood changes. Magnesium-rich foods such as apples, lentils and nuts and seeds, or a supplement, can help.

Other health helpers for your 20s:

  • Nettle or dandelion tea – for water retention and bloating.
  • Evening primrose oil – helps to stabilise hormones and improve skin outbreaks.
  • Agnus castus – for breakout skin and haywire hormones, can help with heavy periods.
  • Vitamin B6 and omega-3, -6 and -9 – for PMS.
  • Omega fish oils, l-theanine and rhodiola – help concentration and energy levels during exam time.
  • Milk thistle – to give the liver a helping hand.

30s

“Over the last number of years fertility problems have increased dramatically. There are many things to do to try to increase fertility including following a healthy diet, reducing stress, quiting smoking and alcohol and giving your body the vitamins it needs,” says Lucy Kerr. “Vital nutrients include omega-3, for the production of healthy hormones; zinc, a deficiency can cause chromosome changes leading to reduced fertility; vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant shown to increase fertility in both men and women; vitamin B6, shown to increase fertility in women.”

“One in eight couples experience fertility problems,” says Angela McGlanaghey. “You can help yourself by adding healthy fats to your diet to boost your omegas, boosting your system with vitamin C and zinc and taking folic acid to ensure optimum health for both you and your baby.”

Other health helpers for your 30s:

  • A good fertility support with high dose fish oil, and a range of minerals and vitamins to support fertility.
  • Add superfoods such as Irish seaweed and spirulina to both partners’ diets.
  • Acupuncture can help with conception.

40s

“Anxiety and depression are usually linked, and as women get older and peri-menopausal they tend to get more anxious,” says Angela McGlanaghey. “Magnesium is brilliant for calming both the body and mind and studies have shown it has a positive effect on anxiety. Depression isn’t something that can be treated by taking a simple supplement, but you can try and boost yourself naturally, by taking omega oils for brain power and ginseng for energy levels.”

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an inflammation and irritation of the bowel wall caused by increased sensitivity of the gut wall. Foods like oily fish, vegetables, flax and psyllium husks all help in cleansing the bowel. Supplements such as digestive enzymes will help to break the food down more easily and take pressure off the bowel. L-Glutamine is an amino acid which will help to repair the bowel wall.

Other health helpers for your 40s:

  • Siberian ginseng – for energy.
  • Melissa Dream – if you are having trouble sleeping.
  • Probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 – can help digestive health issues.

50s

“Cholesterol supports many essential bodily functions, but high levels can lead to health issues,” says Lucy Kerr. “Some supplements that can help with high cholesterol include: red rice yeast, shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels; plant sterols, found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, helps lower LDL cholesterol levels; CoQ10, improves circulation.”

“Women in their 50s may be experiencing menopause,” says Angela McGlanaghey. “It’s extremely important to take omega-3s for brain power along with joint and vision health. High blood pressure is becoming more common in women as well, so it's important to keep an eye on this. Magnesium may help lower blood pressure and will also help with restless legs and fatigue.”

“To reduce blood pressure start with your diet,” says Lucy Kerr. “Avoid processed high fat foods and include fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy grains, and healthy fats such as salmon and avocados. Reducing stress levels is also very important, so try yoga or meditation.”

Other health helpers for your 50s:

  • Sage and vitamin E – for hot flashes and sweating.
  • Oestrogen-rich foods like seeds and wholegrains and superfoods like maca powder – good for balancing hormones.
  • Sage tea and sage supplements – for managing hot flushes.
  • Beetroot juice –shown to help reduce blood pressure.
  • Garlic – found to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Magnesium – helps blood vessels relax which reduces blood pressure levels.
  • Vitamin B complex – important for circulation and lowering blood pressure.

60s

“Joint pain can increase with age and common causes are arthritis, injuries, gout and also menopause,” says Lucy Kerr. “Many women will experience stiffness, joint swelling and reduced mobility. Some supplements that may help ease the symptons include omega-3, chia seeds and nuts. Collagen is a protein found in our bodies that helps build joints and keep connective tissue strong. Dietary sources of collagen include high-protein foods such as fish and chicken. Glucosamine plays a vital role in building cartilage, a good source is bone broth. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.”

“It’s important to take care of bone health at this age and even younger,” says Angela McGlanaghey. “Calcium may be a problem and magnesium deficiency can play a part as it is needed to deposit the calcium taken around the body.”

“Increased levels of calcium in the blood help to contribute to the various key functions such as regulating your heartbeat, muscular contraction and blood clotting – but importantly, helping maintain the strength, health and density of the bones,” says Dr Omar Milhem who works with vitamin company Pharma Medico. “Rock-based calcium is the most prevalent form of calcium available on the market today, but our bodies simply cannot absorb it because it is a rock-derived mineral with a non-porous surface area.

“Calcium derived from a marine plant source, such as calcified seaweed, is a ‘wholefood’ source so the body is more capable of breaking it down, and this means an increased amount of available calcium in your blood, and more bone-specific building blocks accessible to the body. Plus essential trace minerals provide additional material to help in the process of bone rebuilding.

“Taking a product containing a slow-release, multi-mineral and multi-molecular complex, derived from a unique marine plant extract, that has been specifically formulated to provide these key minerals in a highly bioavailable form is key to healthy bones and joints.”

Other health helpers for your 60s:

  • Turmeric – useful for inflamed joints.
  • Amino acids such as arginine and CoQ10 – for heart health.
  • Lecithin – to keep bad cholesterol in check.
  • A diet rich in fish oil – to lubricate joints and keep the brain strong.
  • Keep moving – daily exercise is good for your heart.

70s

Yeast and urinary tract infections (UTIs) can become a recurring problem for older women. An overgrowth of this bacteria can cause symptoms like burning, discharge and pain in the pelvic area. Foods like kefir (live yogurt), kimchi and sauerkraut support the gut. Coconut, oregano and olive oil are all fungal-fighting foods. Supplements like citricidal (grapefruit extract) have strong antifungal and antibacterial actions. Probiotics will also help to replace the good bacteria and rebalance gut flora.

It’s important to avoid all sugar and eat well. Drinking sugar-free cranberry juice regularly helps as both a remedy and for prevention. The herb echinacea will support your immune system to avoid getting UTI infections.

Discuss your decision with a healthcare practitioner before beginning or stopping any medical or herbal treatment.

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