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Women – health for every age

Women’s lives include numerous physical changes including pregnancy and menopause. Rude Health asks the experts for advice for every age

A photo of a woman with shopping bags

Teens and 20s

Health issue: breakout skin, bad lifestyle habits, hormones not settled down yet.

Solution:

Jill Bell of health store Well and Good in Midleton, Co Cork: “What goes into the mouth often affects the skin. So plenty of water, little or no junk and see if eliminating dairy and/or sugar makes a difference. There are some really good safe products for problem skin, both to clean and to treat.”

Fiona Brewer, Naturopathic Herbalist at The Naturopathy Clinic in Killucan, Co Westmeath (www.naturopathyclinic.ie): “If you’re suffering with things like acne and hormone imbalance a good place to look is at the type of food you are eating, sleep patterns and if the body is detoxifying properly.”

Dr Keri Marshall is a licensed naturopathic doctor who specialises in paediatrics and is Chief Medical Officer of Nordic Naturals: “A growing body of evidence indicates that supplementing with EPA and DHA from fish oil, and the only anti-inflammatory omega-6, GLA from borage oil, benefits all skin types. Essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiencies have even been associated with several clinical skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.”

Lorna Rhodes, nutritional consultant to 3-Omega-6 Dairy Free Flax Drink (www.3omega6.com): “Adding omega 3 into the diet with oily fish can help to improve acne. However we know not everyone likes oily fish, so why not switch from cow’s milk to flax seed milk to boost omega 3 intake.”

30s

Health issue: many women are thinking of starting a family in their 30s, pre-natal health becomes important.

Solution:

Fiona Brewer: “It takes three months to make healthy eggs, so when planning a pregnancy it is wise to improve your health in advance. Many studies show that good diet, addressing nutritional deficiencies, and using herbal remedies to balance hormones and relieve stress bring desired results.”

Dr Keri Marshall: “DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that makes up approximately 20% of the fatty acids of the brain’s cerebral cortex. It is not produced by the body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. DHA plays a significant role in the normal physical and mental development of the fetus and provides mood and nerve support for pregnant and lactating women.”

Lorna Rhodes: “Eating beans, lentils and chickpeas will help to balance hormones due to their phytoestrogen content. Flax seed milk is a good dairy-free choice, being low in calories and adding that extra boost of omega 3.”

Jill Bell: “To maximise chances of conception we suggest both partners avoid synthetic chemicals, eat organic as much as possible, cut out alcohol and caffeine, eat plenty of oily fish, supplement with folic acid, and include foods rich in zinc such as seeds and lentils (and red meat). Supplementing with folic acid is essential for any would-be mum.”

40s

Problem: burnout – working too hard and juggling work, family and home. Hormone issues can lead to bad PMS, especially when under stress.

Solution:

Dr Keri Marshall: “Fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines, mackerel, and herring contain EPA which helps to relax muscles and can relieve menstrual cramps. If you don’t eat enough of these it’s a good idea to take a fish oil supplement with a high ratio of omega-3 (EPA & DHA) and omega-6 (GLA).”

Lorna Rhodes: “Eating the right foods and getting sufficient exercise will help to eliminate PMS. Flaxseeds contain phytonutrients called lignans, providing antioxidant benefits and helping to balance hormones.”

Jill Bell: “If hormones start playing up, nettle tea is a great all-rounder, and supplementing with a good vitamin B complex can help to steady things up, as can evening primrose oil, magnesium and agnus castus. It’s important to avoid constipation so that the liver can get rid of any excess oestrogen.”

Fiona Brewer: “It’s vital to switch off and give your nervous system time to rest. Meditation and yoga are great tools to have in your kit. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day, you will feel calmer and more rested.”

50s

Health issue: the average age of menopause in Ireland is 52. This time of life brings major changes to a woman’s body.

Solution:

Lorna Rhodes: “It’s important to maintain a good intake of omega 3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid, to help support the cardiovascular system.”

Jill Bell: “Think of the menopause as a beginning, not a disease or an ending. Sage tablets or tincture can make life bearable for many women whose sleep is disturbed. Lemon balm and other herbal teas are soothing and uplifting. Regular exercise lifts mood and relieves stress as well as strengthening bones.”

Fiona Brewer: “As a society menopause and the ageing process has come to be seen as something negative, but those who embrace it do better. There are several excellent herbal remedies to help navigate hormonal changes.

Dr Keri Marshall: “Women who suffer from hot flushes can benefit from fish oil supplementation. As skin gets older its composition changes and many women enjoy the benefits of borage oil which can make skin feel less dry – this is often combined with omega oils.”

60s

Health issue: ageing body, less oestrogen post-menopause can lead to osteoporosis and aching bones.

Solution:

Dr Keri Marshall: “EFAs have been shown to increase calcium absorption from the gut (by enhancing the effects of vitamin D), reduce urinary excretion of calcium, increase calcium deposited in the bone, and improve the strength of bone. It’s wise to find a fish oil with added vitamin D3 because this is a fat-soluble vitamin and best absorbed when consumed with other fats, such as essential fatty acids in fish oil.”

Jill Bell: “Most of us get sufficient calcium in our diets, but it’s worth checking out our intake of other minerals such as magnesium and zinc which are vital for bone health. Organic apple cider vinegar is a brilliant remedy for helping to reduce acidity in our bodies, which would otherwise leach calcium.”

Fiona Brewer: “Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables really helps to keep the body in its more alkaline state, which is vital for bone health. Juicing can be a great addition at this time, especially including foods like leafy greens, turmeric and wheatgrass.”

Lorna Rhodes: “Osteoporosis is found in one in three women over the age of 60. Drinking dairy-free flax milk will provide essential fatty acids which can help dry skin, lifeless hair, fatigue, depression, aching joints and forgetfulness.”

Click here to read earlier Rude Health Magazine natural health articles.
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