When you hear the words “women’s health”, chances are that you think of birth control or reproductive health testing. At Genesis Women's Health and Gynecology, however, we approach women’s health with a broader hand. We strive to provide feedback and guidance to women about their lifestyles and a variety of environmental factors that may impact their reproductive health.
An example of this is weight and nutrition counseling. Both weight and diet have been linked to improving a woman’s health in very specific ways. While every woman is different and will need to meet with a doctor to develop a specific care plan for her needs, generally speaking, all women can expect to receive the following advice during their lifetime:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight has been linked to a number of different cancers. For women, that means being overweight may create a greater risk of developing breast, uterine/endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer. So maintaining a healthy weight - i.e. one that is recommended by your doctor based on your body mass index (BMI), age, ethnicity, etc. - is critical for women throughout their lives.
- Stay physically active.Exercise has been linked to a lower risk of a variety of cancers, including women’s health-related ones. Exercise is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes. This is important because heart disease is the leading cause of death of women in the United States, and osteoporosis is more likely to affect women than men. For these reasons (and more!), regular exercise is a must for all women. A good starting point is to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day - think brisk walking or biking. However, women over 50 years of age with serious medical problems should check with their doctor before starting any intense physical activity program.
- Eat a healthy diet. By now you may be sick of hearing about needing to eat a healthy diet; but eating right really is a must for good health. For women, that generally means avoiding excess sugar; choosing whole grains instead of white flour products; including three to five servings of calcium-rich foods daily (along with foods rich in vitamin D); eating a variety of plant-based foods, including beans, fruit, and vegetables; limiting processed and red meat; and limiting high-salt foods. It’s also important for women to eat lots of iron-rich foods, specifically to avoid becoming anemic due to their menstrual cycle. Folic acid is also vital during a woman’s child-bearing years, as this greatly improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy. For women who hope to become mothers, it’s even worth meeting with their doctors early to discuss specific dietary needs before ever becoming pregnant. Additionally, some dietary needs will increase at different periods of time; the need for both calcium and vitamin D grows as women get older, for example. Because of this, regularly reviewing her health and diet with her doctor is important for all women.
While general nutritional advice can help you start to make healthy changes, understanding your individual needs is ultimately the best step in addressing nutrition-related health goals. If you have questions about your needs based on your life and goals, we can help! To meet with Dr. Waltrip and our team, either as a new or existing patient, please request an appointment at (724) 488-4963, or via our practice’s Patient Portal.