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Steps for Maintaining and Improving Women’s Health
Each May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health leads the observance of National Women’s Health Week to encourage women to make their health a priority. This year’s theme is “Your health at every age,” and kicked off on Mother’s Day, May 14.
National Women’s Health Week is also a time to remind women of what they can do to improve their health. According to Bayhealth OB-GYN Michelle Cooper, MD, FACOG, the following steps are important for maintaining and improving women’s health.
- See your doctor for annual exams and screenings for cancer, including pap smears and mammograms.
- Make sure you provide your body with the nutrition it needs. “We live in a very toxic world,” says Dr. Cooper, “so we need to eat whole, organic foods.” It’s important to eliminate refined sugars and processed foods, such as bread and pasta. Women also need to increase their fruit and vegetable intake because most don’t eat nearly enough. Lastly, they should take a quality multivitamin to make up for some of the gaps in their diets.
- Manage your stress. “Stress is a major cause of inflammation,” explains Dr. Cooper. “Many women are juggling working (in and outside of the home) and raising children while also caring for spouses and family members, such as elderly parents,” says Dr. Cooper. To ensure overall health, it is important to address the mind-body connection and take time for yourself. Yoga, Epsom baths, and even 10 minutes of meditation are all techniques Dr. Cooper recommends.
- Engage in regular exercise. Physical activity is also important for your health and should include a mix of strength training and cardio exercises.
If Dr. Cooper could only offer one piece of advice, she says being aware of the importance of nutrition and educating yourself on what constitutes as healthy eating is critical for overall health and well-being. “Many people think they are making a good choice if the label says ‘fat free’ for example. But that’s not the case; healthy fats are an important part of the diet. You need a well-balanced diet of whole, unprocessed foods.”
To find a physician in your area, visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (3627).