9 Steps To Great Health After Menopause
(BlackDoctor.org) — African American women are living long lives — there’s a good chance you have more than a third of your life ahead of you after menopause. And it’s more important than ever to take an active role in protecting your health post-menopause, especially since some conditions, like cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, are more likely to occur during this time.
A drop in levels of estrogen and other hormones during menopause, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and mid-life stress can all add up to an increased risk of disease in women post-menopause. And since menopause is a life transition, it’s an excellent time to take stock of your overall health. Making smart lifestyle decisions can help prevent or delay the onset of many of these problems, including complications due to cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Smoking greatly increases your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Compared with nonsmokers, women who smoke experience menopause about 2 years sooner and have a much greater risk of developing blood clots when taking estrogens. Smokers are urged to quit before starting on hormone therapy. Ask your health care professional about modern tools to help you quit smoking.
Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and may help promote weight loss in women who are overweight or obese. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise.
Eating wisely also helps maintain good postmenopausal health. Eating a variety of foods from the major food groups provides most of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D help you maintain strong bones. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the recommended daily intake of calcium is 1200 to 1500 mg/day, to be accompanied by the daily intake of 600 to 1000 IU of Vitamin D. Limiting fat, sugar, and alcohol consumption can contribute to postmenopausal weight loss or help you maintain a healthy weight as well. Your health care professional can check your cholesterol level and advise you about dietary changes that could curb heart disease. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.