Menopausin’? 7 Ways to Cool Down those Hot Flashes

c165459_sI don’t think I ever heard the word “menopause” cross my mother’s lips.  Nope, for her it was the dreaded change of life or simply the change.  For years I connected these terms with the idea of eventually losing my marbles and sprouting hair on my chin.  Heck, according to my mom and aunts, some women went through the change and never came out of it!  (Now that I think about it, I always wondered where Aunt Betty disappeared to).

Nowadays, we’re much more sophisticated about our terminology, and thanks to Google, better educated about this period (no pun intended) of our lives.

Despite my earlier fears about menopause, for me it didn’t turn out to be that bad in terms of physical discomfort.  My biggest annoyance (and from what I hear from other ladies as well) were those times when I was walking around at work or at the mall, my temperature a comfortable 98.6 – when suddenly my body made a visit to the desert, at high noon on a 102 degree day.  What the . . . ??? 

Yep, hot flashes (and their evil buddy, night sweats) were what drove me crazy throughout menopause.  If you’re suffering from them as well, you may want to take a look at some cooling down options: 

  • Craving Thai or Szechuan food?  STOP!  Do not go there. High-fat and high-sugar diets can make hot flash symptoms worse; ditto caffeine and alcohol.
  • Instead, try the Mediterranean Diet as described in this article from the Eating Well website.   This way of eating can also help fight off that lousy weight gain that leads to meno-pots (don’t you love being a woman?) 
  • Research has also shown that adding soy foods to a diet can help, because they contain isoflavones.  Try soybeans, edamame, tofu, or roasted soy nuts. 
  • Try ground flaxseed (available in grocery stores), which may help fight against hot flashes (they’re also good for our heart health; containing fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lignan) You can add the seeds to smoothies, juice, or oatmeal.*
  • Stress has been linked to hot flashes (jeez, what hasn’t stress been linked to?), so take steps to relieve daily stressors before they build up may help.  Meditation, deep breathing techniques, getting regular exercise, and keeping a journal to vent about bad stuff are a few ways to do this. Or invite your hot-flash-suffering friends over for a kick menopause in the butt party 
  • Medical treatment involves low-dose hormone therapy used only for the short-term.  You can read more about medical options in this article from the My Health Alberta website. 
  • Looking for some natural supplement options? Take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s suggestion in this article.  (You should talk to your doctor prior to taking supplements) 

Source: 

*Beck, LeslieWhat foods should I eat to help manage my hot flashes? 

Want to have some fun with your fellow menopausers?  Menopause the Musical is a must-see

For Further Reading:

 

 

10 Ways to Love Your Heart

 

Watercolor picture with bright red heart on blue background

  • Snack on almonds (1 ½ ounces every day can help lower bad cholesterol)
  • Enjoy fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and your heart will be rewarded with a potent antioxidant.
  • Sweat it up!  Strenuous exercise a couple times a week is heart-healthy.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D – research shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cuddle with your significant other or your furry friend. This helps lower stress levels and blood pressure.
  • Floss your teeth – good for your gums, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Let go of anger and resentment – this reduces stress and blood pressure, and can help lower your heart rate.
  • Find a reason to have a good belly laugh.  At least one daily.  Laughing not only reduces stress and tension, it improves blood flow (reducing blood pressure). It may also boost good cholesterol levels.
  • Fill up with fiber (afraid of tootin’? Find some tips to help avoid gaseous emissions at the Everyday Health site
  • Try some yoga poses for a healthy heart.

Sources:

Narula, T., M.D. Have a Heart Healthy Day. Oprah magazine. February 2014.

Westen, R. Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy. AARP magazine. October/November 2015.

Easy Ways to Protect your Bones (No Cow’s Milk Needed)

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 66 – 6/15/15

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1. At breakfast, eat calcium and vitamin D fortified bread and cereals, along with fortified orange juice.  Top your cereal with almond, rice, or soy milk.  Silk almond milk comes in a nice variety of flavors and offers more calcium than cow’s milk. 

2. Don’t forget your greens! Dark greens, such as broccoli, kale, collard greens and bok choy are all good food options to boost your calcium levels.  

3.   Love fish?  Try salmon for a calcium boost.  A mere 3 ounces of salmon provides 181 milligrams of calcium.* (The recommended daily allowance is 1000 milligrams of calcium each day, along with 600 IUs of vitamin D for those of us over 50) 

4.  Nuts, especially almonds, brazil nuts and peanuts.  Nuts rank high in other nutrients as well.  

5. Don’t forget to move that body!  Walk, climb stairs, lift weights – We need 30 minutes of some type of weight-bearing exercise at least five days every week to keep those bones strong.  Regular physical activity helps us in too many ways to count.  

Calcium Thieves to Avoid: 

  • Cola products – The phosphoric acid may prevent proper calcium absorption.* 
  • Processed, canned and fast foods, as well as other salt laden foods.

Source: 

*AARP, the Magazine. March 2015. Boost Your Bone Health in Your 50s

For further reading:

Exercise for your Bone Health 

The Importance of Calcium – How to get Enough without Dairy 

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Why Take Charge of your Health?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 51 – 4/29/15

Senior Woman Relaxing After Exercise

One day I was talking to one of my sisters about health changes as we grow older and she said “Yea, my health was good up until I turned fifty, then it was downhill after that.”  My sister has the same mindset my mom had:  the “oh well, bad health is inevitable when I get old.”  

Yegads, what an outlook!

My thinking is just the opposite!  I believe that we can and should be proactive about our health, not reactive.  After seeing the health problems my mom lived with, which included heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis, I was determined not to age that way. So far, I haven’t.  At almost 59 years old, I don’t have any of the conditions my mom suffered with, except for high cholesterol, which is controlled by my diet, exercise and a statin drug.  

We have a wealth of healthy aging resources at our fingertips nowadays; not only on the Internet, but in public libraries, bookstores, and television channels such as Discovery Health.  Why not use it to our advantage?  We’re living longer these days – don’t know about you, but I also want to live healthier, physically and mentally.  

Here are just a few of those resources that help us take charge of our health: 

 

 

 

9 Snacks for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 47 – 4/20/15

  • Sunflower seeds – contain folate, a B vitamin we need to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. They also contain tryptophan, which is good for stress management.
  • Almonds – contain monounsaturated fats and fiber and help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Blueberries – contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. May help relieve stress and even enhance our memory banks. 
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt – Add blueberries to plain yogurt (I add a little honey for sweetness) and you’ll get the goodness of berries, along with the digestive health benefits of yogurt. 
  • Light string cheese (made with 2% milk) – The Sargento brand has 50 calories in each piece. String cheese provides a nice amount of calcium and protein.  For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, pair with with a piece of fruit or whole grain crackers.
  • Beanitos – The original is made with black beans, and are great with salsa.  They’re high in fiber and protein and contain no sugar. The other varieties and more information about beanitos can be found here
  • Edamame – Looking for something different?  Edamame (Japanese soy bean) is high in fiber and protein, low in calories and fat.  It’s a great source of calcium, iron and protein
  • Garden Lite muffins –  Found in the frozen section, they come in a variety of flavors, such as zucchini chocolate, banana chocolate chip, and blueberry oat.  Made with veggies and fruits.  Tasty, low-calorie, good source of fiber and gluten-free.  
  • Kind Healthy Grain Bars – contain a variety of healthy grains,(quinoa, oats, buckwheat) good source of fiber.  Awesome variety of flavors, including Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Blueberry, and more. 

7 Mini Health Habits

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 44 – 4/13/15 

Woman lying in bed sleeping

Get a good sleep to enhance your memory banks and other brain functions.

Woman relaxing on a sofa

Want to enhance your sleep? Turn off the television or computer before bedtime and relax with soothing music or meditation CDs. 

Eat a handful of almonds a day to help reduce your cholesterol.  

Senior Woman With Adult Daughter Relaxing On Sofa At Home

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not, but laughter is a great prescription for emotional and physical health.  

Wear sunscreen to avoid looking like an alligator purse as you age and to protect yourself from skin cancer.

Senior Woman Power Walking In The Park

Find time to take a daily walk. Too cold or rainy or hot to walk outside? Try a fitness walk in front of your television.  Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your heart, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Drink green tea for a great anti-oxidant boost. This beverage helps protect our cardiovascular and immune systems. Green tea may even help protect us against several types of cancers. 

How about you, readers?  What actions do you take to enhance your health and wellness? 

7 Mini Heart Healthy Eating Swaps

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 42 – 4/8/15

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  • Enjoying a bowl of tomato soup?  Add black beans for added fiber.
  • For a tasty salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and use a colorful blend of greens – add chickpeas and a variety of veggies.  You can also use the chickpeas to make hummus.  Enjoy it with baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery, zucchini sticks, red or   orange peppers . . . 
  • Love crusty bread? Instead of buttering it, blend olive oil with dried Italian seasoning and minced garlic (or garlic powder) and dip your bread in this mixture. 
  • For a heart-healthy breakfast, try regular or steel-cut oatmeal instead of the instant options.  Add blueberries (or other types of berries), walnuts or almonds, apples with  a tablespoonful of honey. Top with soymilk.  
  • When eating out, choose broiled salmon, lake trout, or whitefish instead of a steak.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish can help us reduce heart attacks and other heart conditions. 
  • For a quick snack, choose a handful of almonds to help lower your cholesterol levels.  
  • To healthify your tacos, skip the ground beef.  Try a soft taco made with whole grain tortillas, ground turkey, brown rice, and seasoned black beans.  Top with avocado slices.

Bea would love to hear about your own heart-healthy food swap ideas.  Drop me a line!

For further reading:

Heart Disease and Young Women

Quick heart-healthy meal recipes

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

3 Health Sites for Women Only

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 41 – 4/6/15

The Center for Young Women’s Health – According to its About page, the Center’s objective is to provide teen girls and young women with well-researched health information relating to both physical/emotional development and diseases/conditions. This site is also a non-commercial site; a partnership among three medical divisions of the Boston Children’s Hospital.  There are resources for both health care professionals and parents.  An example of an article from the site’s emotional health category: Anxiety

Medline Plus – Women’s Health – a website from the National Institutes of Health, produced by the National Library of Medicine.  This site provides trusted information specific to women’s unique health concerns. The site is uncluttered and easy to maneuver; it’s also updated on a regular basis.  You can sign up for women’s health updates.  An example of what you’ll find here: Osteoporosis, the Bone ThiefThe site also provides a variety of videos and fun tools, which can be found here. 

 Society for Women’s Health Research – Founded in 1990, by a group of health professionals, the site is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary of research and advocacy for women’s unique health diseases and concerns.  Resources include women’s health topics from A – Z, clinical trials, public education, and videos. There is a link describing SWHR’s advocacy issues, and how women can take action for themselves. Example of what can be found at the site: (under the Public Education link) Research on breast cancer recurrence. SWHR can be found on Facebook and Twitter.  

Grandmother with adult daughter and grandchild in park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Fight Belly Fat

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 27 – 3/4/15

Want to fight that muffin top?  While some excess weight around the abdoment may not be dangerous, visceral (or deep) fat surrounds our internal organs and causes a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.  Other dangers of visceral fat include heart disease and stroke.  

And here’s a surprising fact from WebMD:  even thin people can have deep fat deposits, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise.*

How to fight back:

  • Eat high fiber foodsNatural sources of fiber include:  apples with the skin, pears with the skin, black beans (and of course, other varieties as well), popcorn, barley, whole wheat bread, etc.  (Just be sure to add fiber to your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to go with it).  
  • Avoid processed and “white foods,” along with bad fats.  
  • Get that cardio exercise – Start a moderate aerobic workout plan, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 or more days each week.  If you’re already active, or want faster results, jog or do other types of vigorous exercises.  
  • Strength train – Experts point out that aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat.   Strength training helps build muscle, and that can boost your metabolism and help you burn off more fat.  
  • Find ways to get a good night’s sleep – Lack of sleep has been linked to abdominal fat gain
  • Finally, learn to manage stress. Studies have shown that uncontrolled stress can also lead to additional belly fat, along with 
  • Studies have shown that high levels of uncontrolled stress can also lead to more belly fat as well as a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

This slideshow from Everyday Health talks about ways that menopausal women can fight belly fat.

For Further Reading: 

Is there “One Trick” to Losing Belly Fat? (Sorry, but the answer is “No”)

The Truth about Belly Fat

How and Why To Lose Belly Fat

Source:

* Collins, S. The Truth About Belly Fat. WebMD. Reviewed March 20, 2014