Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and we have the chance to celebrate everything that we love about our moms! There are a few gender health issues that women might experience in their lifetime.

Thinking about mom’s health

Mom Daughter Kitchen Meal Prep Mom Daughter Kitchen Meal Prep Mom Daughter Kitchen Meal Prep

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and we have the chance to celebrate everything that we love about our moms! In the health arena, I like to take this time of year to remind each of us about the health issues that should be on a woman’s mind as she goes through life. There are a few gender health differences, especially as related to the reproductive organs, obviously. But there are several health issues that women might experience in their lifetime. There are risks for each that are not controllable such as being female, getting older and having a family history of those diseases or conditions.

Strokes: More women than men experience strokes. The controllable risks include: 

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Birth control pills
  • Migraines
  • Thick waist or obesity

Osteoporosis: Both women and men are at risk for osteoporosis as they age, but this condition appears years earlier in women. The controllable risks include: 

  • Low body weight or being thin
  • Smoking
  • Low calcium and vitamin D
  • Inactivity
  • Excess alcohol 

Breast cancer risk: Although men are at slight risk for this disease, women have the greater risk. The controllable risks include:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Birth control pills
  • Excessive alcohol

Heart disease: Although both men and women get various forms of heart disease, women are often undertreated, or their symptoms are so benign that it is a difficult disease to diagnose. The controllable risk factors include:    

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Inactivity

 How to stay in tip-top shape throughout life? 

  • It is best to go to your doctor appointments each year to pick up health issues early – don’t put them off. Pre-diabetes is easier to manage then type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol is better to bring under control before a vascular event.
  • Keep yourself to a plant-based diet.
  • Get in your daily walk. 
  • Keep your waistline lean as you age to reduce overall disease risk.
  • Listen to your body – if something doesn’t seem right, see your doctor!

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.