WOMEN LIVING WELL & AGING WELL

WOMEN LIVING WELL & AGING WELL

Growing old is a gift. The benefits of growing old are numerous, from enjoying grandchildren, gaining wisdom, having more empathy and better social skills to living a purposeful life. If social media talked more about the beautiful parts of aging instead of focusing on the negative, growing old might not be considered to be such a bad thing. Older ladies are generally much more satisfied with their lives than their younger counterparts.

However, the aging process also comes with some issues that can interfere with life satisfaction.  Low energy levels, changes in your appearance, and a variety of other unpleasant side effects associated with menopause and ageing. In a nutshell, the physical aspects of aging can steal away the beauty and sense of fulfillment we experience as we get older. The good news is that aging gracefully is possible.

A woman’s beauty doesn’t end as she ages it simply changes. There are a few bumps and bends in the road that can cause discomfort or steal away some of her happiness, but there are lots of options to make sure she experiences a fulfilling life with the best physical health possible.

The Role of Hormones

The endocrine system is pretty amazing; this extensive group of glands produces the hormones that regulate metabolism, sexual function, growth mood and more. As women age hormone levels fluctuate sometimes increasing production levels but mostly decreasing them.

In women around the age of 50 two major hormones decrease substantially, these are estrogen and progesterone.  We call this wonderful time in life menopause, a completely normal thing that can produce a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms.

  1. Hot flashes & Night Sweats

Hot flashes could best be described as an intense heat that starts in your chest and rises to your neck and head causing unprecedented discomfort for many women. Some women even experience dizziness, nausea and a racing heart beat.  Typically, hot flashes last about 1 to 5 minutes, these are very long minutes. For some women this rarely happens and others might experience it 20 times a day. When hot flashes happen at night, they can leave you and your sheets drenched and chilled, which let’s face it feels pretty disgusting! Obviously, women are going to be looking for help with these problems.

Hormone replacement therapy used to be the most common treatment and it did work, but it also increased the risk or heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer. It is especially dangerous for women who have a history of breast cancer in their family.  So, people looked for alternatives that were effective without the worry of dangerous side effects. Dietary supplements like plant estrogens, black cohosh, Ginseng, soy, and Vitamin E also help the body regain normal temperatures. A good homeopath or naturopath can recommend an effective low dose solution customized to your specific symptoms.  These remedies have no side effects and won’t cause drug interactions.

  1. Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom experienced by women going through menopause and this continues after menopause too, it is the result of decreased levels of estrogen. About 20% of women in perimenopause seek treatment for vaginal dryness.   The actual number of women that are likely to suffer from this problem is more like 40-50%. Vaginal dryness (atrophy) can cause pain during sex and also increase the chance of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections (UTI’s). 

Low dose estrogen creams and Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) medication are commonly prescribed. These treatments are not approved for use in women that have had breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer in their families. It also increases the risk of endometrial  cancer.  Some side effects of estrogen cream are breast pain, enlarged breasts, itching of the vagina or genital area, discharge, and vaginal burning or pain.  This list doesn’t even include the rare or unexpected list of side effects! According to the Mayo Clinic there are also a huge number of medications that can cause interactions. SERM’s also have a long list of side effects like fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal discharge, mood swings, headaches and dizziness. Clearly this may not be the answer you are looking for.

What are some natural options? These include the use of natural lubricants like vitamin E suppositories, aloe vera, and coconut oil. Besides stimulating natural vagina mucus, they also prevent infections from fungus and bacteria. Raw pumpkin seeds and using natural products with high omega 3 fatty acids also work miracles. A healthy diet, in general, can help with a dry vagina, while a poor diet minimizes blood flow and lubricity. Herbal remedies and homeopathic solutions can help your body normalize hormone levels and provide symptom relief.

  1. Decreased libido

Sexual desire changes throughout a woman's life. It may change due to menstrual cycle changes, occurrences in their lives, and illnesses. Aging is also a major factor for reduced libido. According to one review the reported rate of sexual problems in postmenopausal women is between 68 and 86.5%.  Decreased estrogen levels mean less blood flow to the vagina and the tissue thins and becomes less sensitive to stimulation. There are natural remedies that can help to increase a woman’s libido; black cohosh, red clover and soy. Or you can take a tip from Africa and use Yohimbine which has been known to work as a natural Viagra. You could also try consuming figs, bananas and avocados, these foods contain important vitamins and minerals that can increase the blood flow to the genitals and promote a healthy sex life while supplementing the body with vitamins and minerals.

  1. Insomnia

Insomnia can result in irritability, exhaustion, depression, and it also can affect heart health and even increase your risk of osteoporosis. This is why a lack of sleep is actually pretty serious.  Many Americans use sleeping pills as a solution to this problem, which is ill-advised as the list of side effects is really unbelievable.  Let me give you just a few examples: a burning sensation in the extremities, appetite changes, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, headaches, heartburn, stomach pain and weird dreams. Personally, I think feeling a little tired is probably better. There are some natural safe methods that could be adopted in place of sleeping pills. These natural options include adopting a regular sleep schedule, exercising and keeping fit, warm showers before bed, exposure to the sun during daytime, and consuming supplements from natural products like the valerian root, lavender, and chamomile tea.

  1. Irritability/depression

Irritability can destroy meaningful relationships, but for goodness sakes don’t explain to hormone enraged woman how ridiculous she is being. Irritability and negative thoughts are not even a choice for some women since there is actually a physical cause - low hormonal levels. When a woman experiences depression, constant fatigue, and a temper that is uncalled for, it may be time to seek help. Natural remedies include the consumption of foods that contain phytoestrogens which reduce mood swings. These include beans, lentils, and peanuts. Daily meditation and yoga also help release negative energy, thereby gaining control of irritation. Always keep in mind, no one WANTS to feel this way!

  1. Osteoporosis

Females are at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis and broken bones than men.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation 80% of the 10 million people in America that have this condition are female. Estrogen helps protect your bones, during menopause estrogen production decreases and can cause bone loss. The bone density a woman has when she enters menopause is an important factor, the greater your bone density the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age. 

Aging is inevitable, suffering from bone density loss and broken bones is not. It is never too late or too early to take care of your bones.  There are lots of ways that you can help prevent the disease and treatment options for those that already have osteoporosis. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin d can help prevent weakened bones. Adding supplements like red clover which contains estrogen, or calcium and vit D if you don’t’ get enough from your diet can help strengthen your bones.  Weight bearing activities are also important to bone health, things like lifting weights, hiking, tennis and dancing are great options.

  1. Weight Gain.

Hormonal weight gain is a factor that contributes to women gaining weight during and after menopause.  However, it is not the only factor, lifestyle and family history also play a role.  As we age our muscle mass diminishes and fat levels increases. So, get moving!  That is the best thing you can do to help with weight gain, and watching what you eat is important too.  You need to meet all your nutritional needs while decreasing your calorie intake, so pay attention to your food choices and pick healthy options.

Good news, that extra physical activity and healthy food is going to give a lot more energy and improve your overall health.

Feeling Good and Looking Great

Your body is going to change as you age, there is no way around it.  One of those things that is going to change is how you look.  Those pesky little hormones again, when your production of estrogen slowed down it had a big impact on your skin and hair as well. Lifestyle, smoking, illness, stress and many other factors like overexposure to the sun can affect how you age.   Wrinkles will happen, your hair color will fade and you may have less hair than you used to. That doesn’t mean you should just accept the inevitable and do nothing, on the contrary there are tons of natural options to help you look and feel your best without spending ridiculous amounts of money.

Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly is great for your physical health and it can improve the health of your skin and hair too. But there are so many other things you might want to try…

Skin Care

  1. Facial acupuncture

Facial acupuncture endeavors to heal the skin from structural changes like wrinkles and lines. It activates the skin boosting the metabolism and stimulating collagen production, studies show it improves elasticity and helps minimize fine lines and wrinkles. The act of inserting needles into the face creates a microtrauma that encourages blood flow and increases healing speed while giving a real glow to the face. Acupuncture also reboots facial muscles to make the face appear young and healthy.

  1. The Oil Cleansing Method,

The basic idea behind oil cleansing is that like dissolves like, in other words putting high quality nourishing oils on your face will lift excess sebum, clean out clogged pores and remove dead skin cells, pollutants and make up.

You can’t just rub a bunch of oil on your face, wipe it off and say you have cleansed skin, can you?  Actually, there is a little bit more to it, use about a quarter sized amount of your oil mixture and gently massage into your skin, don’t over do it or you will be pushing the dirt and make up deep into your pores. Then take a hot cloth and cover your face, the steam will open the pores and make the dirt and oils on your skin combine for easy removal with your cloth. You can use several drops of oil to add moisture on your now clean skin, if you want to massage the oil in, this is time!

  1. Lymphatic Drainage Massage (for face and upper chest)

This type of treatment addresses the lymph nodes, which are throughout the body and act as a filter for harmful substances and waste.  You can do this type of massage anywhere on the body, using it on the face provides excellent results for under eye puffiness or darkness, firming the skin and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Basically, you are massaging the skin by applying gentle pressure which activates the lymphatic system and improves blood flow and circulation. Actively massaging the skin in a specific way helps accelerate the transportation and absorption of lymphatic fluids. Normally, these fluids contain bacteria, protein, viruses, and toxins. Boosting the lymphatic system helps in the elimination of these, promoting healthier skin and body. 

Hair Loss

Hair loss can by caused by many different factors some common ones are; illness, stress, genetics, and changes caused by aging. That’s right those pesky hormone changes can even affect your hair.  One factor that people often don’t think of is the toxic and damaging ingredients found in most hair care products. Parabens, Sulphates, dyes, preservatives and silicones are some prime examples. Switching to a product with a more natural ingredient list could be a big step towards improving your hair and scalp health. Beware of styling products that contain silicone especially if it is near the top of the ingredient list, sulphate free shampoos may not effectively remove the buildup caused by these types styling products.

1. Scalp massages

Scalp health is extremely important for healthy hair growth and for promoting regrowth.  Based on a research study by ePlasty, a daily scalp massage that lasts 4 minutes is enough to boost hair growth. It also reduces inflammation as well as stress, both of which are factors that contribute to hair loss.

Taking good care of the scalp and hair goes a long way in preventing hair loss. The secret to healthy hair begins at the roots, healthy hair growth requires a healthy scalp. Adding oils to your scalp massage can improve the benefits of the massage.  Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, rosemary and tea tree are great choices but don’t apply them directly to the scalp they need to be diluted into a carrier oil like sunflower, avocado, coconut or olive oil. Just a few drops in the carrier oil is all that is needed.  Massage into the scalp down the length of hair and wait!!  You can even wait overnight for optimal benefits.  Then wash it out and condition as usual.

3. Brushing for Growth – The Boar’s Bristle Brush

A boar bristle brush is used to massage the scalp and untangle the hair. Brushing with this type of bristle unclogs hair follicles and increases blood flow which boosts hair follicle growth. It also evenly distributes sebum from the root of the hair to the tip to provide a natural (free)conditioning treatment to the entire hair shaft.

Greying Hair

Grey hair can be beautiful, stunning in fact, but for some women it just makes them feel old. Hair color is a popular way to remedy grey hair and permanent color can make your hair look thicker, but the chemicals in hair color can damage the hair and scalp and cause hair loss.  Natural hair color has seen a recent surge in popularity and some people prefer to use henna which comes in variety of colors.   Another natural way to get back the natural hair color is amla juice. Women should consume six ounces of the juice each day. Alternatively, they could also opt for amla oil, and apply it directly on to the scalp. Black sesame seeds also slow down and even reverse gray hair when taken 2/3 times every week. Hair supplements can be used as well.

The Role of Nutrition

There is a strong link between nutrition and physical beauty.  Healthy foods contribute to physical health and wellness, and the skin is said to reflect the general inner-health status of a person. Getting healthy makes your more beautify, that is a win/win situation. 

Physical exercise, massages, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, are all factors that can contribute to overall health and wellness, but none of them have the same importance as nutrition.  Simply put being healthy makes you more beautiful. Vitamins and minerals protect the body from disease-causing organisms, which helps in maintaining regular body and brain functioning. Some foods also supplement the body with hormones to replenish those lost due to aging, specifically estrogen.

Vitamins and minerals also have great anti-aging and cell-protective effects. Vitamin C in particular, is responsible for clotting and repairing old worn-out cells. With enough vitamin C, healing and rectifying damaged skin and body tissues is very efficient.

When all is said and done, proper nutrition is one of the easiest ways to achieve a healthy body, a strong immune system, glorious hair, and glowing youthful skin. A good diet supplemented by exercise will help increase energy levels and can even improve your libido.

So, aging gracefully is possible. Look after yourself and watch what products you use on your body and what kinds of foods you eat.  Do things like yoga or massage for stress relief and get enough sleep that’s important too.  If you want a little extra beauty boost try out some of the excellent options we looked at in this article.

Remember you are not just getting older; you are getting better!

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