Post-Menopausal Women & Heart Health
Menopause - A new phase in a woman’s life! Absence of periods for a year since the last menstruation confirms menopause. Symptoms like weight gain, dry skin, bloating, hot flushes, sleep problems, elevated cholesterol levels, anxiety, depression, state of mood swings, panic attacks are common before menopause, though symptoms vary from woman to woman. Menopause can increase the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.In fact weight gain is a risk factor for breast cancer postmenopause. Weight management programs and weight loss programs can help in keeping the weight under check in postmenopausal women.
Estrogen and progesterone secreted by the ovaries control the reproductive system including the menstrual cycle. Post menopause, a decline in theestrogen levels may be the reason for the increased risk of diseases including heart disease.
It is believed that estrogen keeps the blood vessels flexible thus accommodating the blood flow. It increases HDL (good) cholesterol, decreasesLDL (bad) cholesterol and decreases free radicals. When the estrogen levels decline post menopause, the build up of fat and cholesterol in the arteries contribute to heart attack and stroke. Adding the wrong lifestyle choicesto this like smoking and unhealthy eatingfurther increases the risk.
But, if you have followed a healthy lifestyle all along and are maintaining it even during menopause, the risk is lowered. Some dietary pointers for a reduced cardio vascular risk are:
Eat foods rich in dietary fibre like steel cut oats, jowar, bajra, ragi, nachni, barley.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are as important as they play a role in lowering blood pressure and improving other cardiovascular risk factors.
Pulses, dals and legumes are good sources of protein and fibre that also help in protecting the heart.
Low fat dairy and products help in keeping the saturated fat content low in the diet.
Lean meat and meat products are good protein sources with low saturated fat content.
A handful of nuts daily for their protein, fibre and essential fatty acid content.
Avoiding refined flour products, red meat, fried foods, trans fat containing foods, sugary foods and beverages is just as important.
Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding smoking is just as important. Offline or online nutrition programs for weight loss can help tackle any excess weight that could be a risk for heart disease. A target based women’s nutrition plan can help improve eating and lifestyle habits for a reduced risk.