Women often take their own health for granted, because they are busy taking care of everyone else. But in 2021, it is imperative that they prioritise their well-being, especially since the pandemic is still on. Middle-aged women, particularly, have to decide to take care of themselves this year, and Dr Prathima Reddy, senior obstetrician and gynaecologist at Fortis La Femme Hospital, Bangalore, shares some tips.
Health issues commonly seen in middle-aged women, between the ages of 45 and 60 years:
- Diabetes and hypertension
Eat a healthy diet: According to the WHO, a healthy diet for adults should contain fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils and beans), nuts and whole grains (unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice). Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oil) are preferable to saturated fats (found in meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream cheese, ghee and lard). Industrial trans fats (found in processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, cookies, margarines and spreads) are not healthy and should be avoided. Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to about one teaspoon) per day should be used and the salt should be iodized.
Exercise regularly: Maintaining a healthy weight (check your BMI) will help cut down your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis, risk of fractures, and possibly reduce the risk of certain cancers, too, like that of breast colon, etc. Exercise also helps improve body balance and coordination, reduces the risk of depression and improves mental skills which decline with age.
Moderate intensity physical activity could include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, dancing, aerobic, gardening, household work etc. At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity should be performed throughout the week.
Quit smoking: Along with that, quitting chewing of tobacco, pan or gutka, and cutting down on alcohol will go a long way in reducing the risk of cancer and lung diseases.
A regular health checkup for diabetes, anaemia, cholesterol and hypertension at least once a year is recommended.
Screening for breast and cervical cancer regularly as recommended by your doctor is a must. Breast cancer can be detected early with regular mammograms, and cervical cancer can be prevented by having regular pap smears.
Women with a family history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer should discuss this with their doctor.