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Wonder woman

A woman’s body goes through many stages in life and faces varied health issues– Rude Health magazine looks at how best to cope with each age in your life

Teens and 20s

“Many young women live fast in their 20s, with busy study, work and social lives,” says Elaine Melican, nutritional therapist and manager at Open Sesame in Ennis, co Clare. “So it’s no surprise that lower energy, immunity and mood are a common complaint. Hormonal issues such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have also started to become more common.”

For Emer Bourke at The Natural Way in Clarinbridge, co Galway, “PMT, PCOS, skin, hair and nails, and weight loss are the big issues for this age group.”

“Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, as well as acne and other skin issues are common in young women,” says Naomi Osun, nutritional advisor at OptiBac probiotics. “With increased self-consciousness during adolescence these issues can be quite disheartening. In addition to having a healthy diet, looking after gut health is important, and probiotic supplements have been shown to be quite helpful with many health issues. Look for products that contain strains that have been researched for your specific health issue.”

Health hacks in your 20s

  • Agnus castus – for breakout skin and haywire hormones
  • Magnesium – for cramping and a healthy immune system
  • Vitamin B6 and omega 3, 6 and 9 – for PMS
  • Omega fish oils, L-theanine and rhodiola – to help concentration and energy levels during exam time
  • Milk thistle – to give the liver a helping hand

30s

“In her 30s a woman’s priories change, weekends are no longer about big nights out and there are new sources of stress, such as work, getting on the property ladder and starting a family,” says Elaine Melican. “Fertility issues become more apparent in our 30s.”

“Fertility concerns, endometriosis, post-partum depression and general reproductive health issues can be an issue in this age group,” says Naomi Osun. “These health problems can cause a lot of anxiety, stress and depression for women. Probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 can help digestive health issues, like bloating and IBS.”

Health hacks in your 30s

  • A good fertility support which includes high dose fish oil, and a range of minerals and vitamins to support fertility
  • Add superfoods such as Irish seaweed and spirulina to both partners’ diets
  • Acupuncture can help with conception
  • A multivitamin with folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids, the essential building blocks for the development and growth of the baby’s brain cells

40s

“With work and family commitments, a lady in her 40s can often forget about her own health, and ongoing low-level stress can have a negative effect on her health,” says Elaine Melican. “Many digestive or hormonal issues can be linked to stress, and while many of us look to reduce the obvious symptoms we would be much better off dealing with the root cause.”

“Women tend to be the caretakers of others’ emotional and physical needs and frequently neglect their own,” says Emer Bourke. “Take care of yourself first and foremost so you can continue to care for the ones you love. Managing stress levels through better self-care is critical, especially through the 40s and 50s when women are frequently squeezed between meeting the needs of children and caring for older parents as well as running a home and working outside out of it.”

“Certain strains of bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell -52 and Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-71 have been shown to help improve mood and anxiety by helping to increase the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin,” says Naomi Osun.

Health hacks in your 40s

  • Vitamin B complex with high B6, a magnesium supplement, good quality essential fatty acids and agnus castus tincture – for PMS
  • Siberian ginseng – for energy
  • Melissa Dream – if you are having trouble sleeping
  • A multivitamin – if burning the candle at both ends
  • Vitamin B12 – for energy
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – help regulate hormones, lubricate joints and keep the brain strong

50s

“A time of change, menopause takes over for many women in their 50s,” says Elaine Melican. “There are a wide range of symptoms and it affects every woman differently. Unfortunately there are also other areas of the body that give us difficulty as we age including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor bone and joint health.”

“Stress, family health, thyroid issues, bone health, sleep, anxiety and weight gain are the main issues for women in their 50s,” says Emer Bourke.

“The menopause can cause digestive health issues such as bloating, depression and anxiety, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other intimate health issues,” says Naomi Osun. “The decline in oestrogen can also have a direct effect on bone health as bone density decreases during and after menopause. It’s important to stay active and exercise as often as possible as this can help improve bone health. Exercising and staying active can also help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer.”

Health hacks in your 50s

  • Sage and vitamin E – for hot flashes and sweating
  • A herbal support – to balance hormones is important at this stage in life
  • Herbal teas such as lemon balm – to relax the overburdened mind and body
  • Regular exercise – to keep the heart healthy

60s plus

“As she enters her golden years a woman may not show her years on the outside, but what is going on in the body can be a different story,” says Elaine Melican. “Health concerns for women of this age are high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and degenerative diseases may have progressed, leading to arthritis or osteoporosis.”

“Joint health, memory issues and sleep disorders are common complaints in this age group,” says Emer Bourke.

“A healthy and varied diet should provide the nutrients needed for healthy body function,” says Naomi Osun. “So increase your intake of foods like green leafy vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and oily fish and reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet. High fat and sugar diets can be detrimental for the health, so try reducing these as well.”

Health hacks in your 60s

  • Turmeric - useful for inflamed joints
  • Amino acids such as arginine and CoQ10 – for heart health
  • A joint support complex – to keep your bones strong
  • Lecithin – to keep bad cholesterol in check
  • A diet rich in fish oil – to lubricate joints and keep the brain strong
  • Keep moving – daily exercise is good for your heart

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