Women’s Health Issues: Safety and the way of holistic medicine.
In my holistic medicine practice, womens health issues are a daily concern. For years I have been listening carefully to the questions and concerns brought by women of all ages. I have given customized personal recommendations to each woman who has consulted me, and have discovered some common themes which I can share with you here. Perhaps you will find some helpful ideas or directions as you are looking to be more empowered for your own natural health and wellness.
The most common womens health issues that I deal with are: menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis,depression and low energy, stress and anxiety,cardiovascular disease risk, and cancer prevention. There are some common themes of prevention and remedies which tie all of these together, and I’d like to tie some of them together here in a kind of “natural remedy recipe” which will go a long way toward natural wellness for you.
And the first important point I would like to make about womens health issues has to do with the age at which we begin to give it the attention it deserves. Over years of medical practice, I can tell you that investments in health during the teen years will pay off with big dividends in later life. Families that emphasize a delicious diet of whole foods will more likely launch young women into the world who will benefit from those foods as adults. On the other hand, research makes it clear that the roots of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases are often already present in youth. And yet, I have also seen women well beyond retirement age begin to recover from chronic disease when enough support is given for them to make changes in foods, physical activity and stress reduction. Just remember, it’s never too late to start, as long as you start now!
With that said, the big themes of my natural remedy recipe for womens health issues are these: physical activity, dietary choices, stress reduction, and toxin avoidance. Let’s say a few words about those one at a time.
Physical activity: before I tell you why this tops my list of natural strategies for women to stay healthy throughout life, we should clear the air emotionally. Are you thinking, “I feel guilty already about being inactive, how I am going to possibly find time for this?” If so, please understand I am working to empower you with facts and encouragement, not to scold you. Regardless, here are the facts: staying physically active throughout life reduces the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, depression, insomnia, osteoporosis, chronic pain, and helps with weight control. Key times to emphasize remaining physically active: girls tend to reduce habitual exercise (play) at the beginning of puberty and at the end of high school, so those are good times for parents, teachers, and coaches to make sports and activities fun and accessible for girls of all sizes. And about scheduling it, maybe you have more choices than maybe you thought. Remember too that exercise adds energy to your body over time, and you will feel more capable of managing all of life when you are physically fit.
Dietary choices: of all the womens health issues I am asked about, this is the one where there is perhaps the most confusion. For a lot more detail, please take a few moments while you are here to read the other pages on this website about how food can change your life. But here’s the big picture: American cultural habits around food, as they have evolved over the past 30 years, are killing us. I see this as just as serious as cigarette smoking. The devastating health consequences of our eating habits will bankrupt America in the next few decades, because we won’t be able to afford the medical bills, and our competitive standing in the global market will fall. It is our patriotic duty to not only change our own eating habits, but also to advocate for change in our schools and communities. This is a revolutionary movement that women could lead.
Stress reduction: there is no ambiguity in science that stress is a major contributor to disease. It affects immunity, blood pressure, heart rhythm, respiratory disease, sleep, and brain health. But when I ask patients in my office “what do you do to relax?” I often get answers like, “watch TV.” Let’s rethink that. There are very specific stress reduction practices which can be proved to change the body’s function. TV is not one of them (in fact, it probably does the opposite). Conscious breathing practices, self-hypnosis, meditation, and using biofeedback devices clearly make the body a healthier place (look up recent articles on heart rate variability for example). These will counter the pervasive influence of a stressful world.
Toxin avoidance: our bodies are amazing and can handle a lot of stuff, especially when good nutrition and exercise give it the building blocks to cleanse itself. But there are limits. The major toxic product in the environment is still cigarette smoke. Parents your job is to model being smoke free for your kids and to be 100% intolerant of smoking for them. If you are a smoker and need help quitting, contact me and I can help you if you have no other doctor to turn to. Other toxins: alcohol adds significantly to breast cancer risk, one of the biggest womens health issues. Charred or overdone meats are coated with carcinogens due to the high heat chemical reactions with the meat. Pesticide residues in foods can disrupt the endocrine system and add to breast cancer risk as well.
Those pesticide residues also have a toxic effect on the brain of a baby still in the womb, so it is extremely important for pregnant women (or planning a pregnancy) to avoid pesticide exposure. Learn more about pesticides and children’s IQ and memory.
Yes it is more work to reduce toxic load in the body, but worth the effort in the long run.
What have I just told you? Nothing complicated, nothing risky, nothing expensive; just simple suggestions about how to make day to day choices which keep you feeling vibrant, young and alive, and which multiply over millions of women in the US to save a nation on its knees from health care costs. Womens health issues are in the long run all of our issues, and when women lead the way, the rest of the family will get on board. Lead on!
To your health and wellness,
Robert Pendergrast, MD
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