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If there’s one thing that can make you uncomfortable all day, it’s dealing with lower-back tension. And try as you might, between at-home remedies and stretches, sometimes it just keeps lingering. Luckily Women’s Health’s With Yoga DVD is here to help you deal. It features a lower-back routine from yoga instructor Rebecca Pacheco that’s just nine minutes long, but delivers major relief. In fact, Pacheco’s students even refer to the simple moves as “back magic” for their healing powers. You don’t need to head to a class at a yoga studio for this one, all you need is a small space in your home. Here, the three moves that address a tight, achy lower back from the Women’s Health’s With Yoga DVD.

SUN SALUTATION

At the top of your mat, stand relaxed with feet hip-width apart. Inhale, reach overhead. Exhale, bend your knees and slowly bow down. Inhale, rising to a flat-back position. Place your hands on the floor, and step back to downward facing dog. Take a breath or two.

LOW LUNGE

Step your right foot forward between your hands, drop back knee down, curl back toes down. Lean hips forward. Grab a block and set it beneath your left hand. Pivot your left femur (thigh bone) toward your back heel (to the right). Hold. Slowly come back to center. Now, pivot your left femur toward your block to face the other direction (your left). Release.

Go back into your downward-facing dog. Raise your left leg into the air. Swing through to a low lunge on the other side. Repeat the low lunge sequence on this leg. When finished, end in downward-facing dog.

STANDING FORWARD BEND

In downward-facing dog, take right leg in the air, keeping head down. Swing leg through and place foot between your hands. Step up, bringing your left foot to meet your right. Feet hip-width distance apart, hang down with your head toward the floor. Nod your head ‘yes’ and shake your head ‘no’. Fan your feet, relax toes. Slowly roll upright. Lift shoulders to ears, take a big breath. Inhale and exhale twice more.

Ahhh. Sweet relief. Now, check your standing. You should feel more balanced with your weight back into your heels, spine aligned. Your back should feel more spacious and have more mobility. All that to say, you should feel good.

And if you like this sequence, pick up a copy of Women’s Health’s With Yoga DVD for more great yoga flows to get your whole body feeling amazing.

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As the years pass by, many women find that the lifestyle that worked in their 20s and 30s fails to achieve the same results in their 40s and 50s. As women reach their 50s (the average age of onset for menopause), they’ll have to compensate for hormonal, cardiovascular and muscle changes.

Weight gain in aging women is common because of decreases in muscle mass, the accumulation of excess fat and a lower resting metabolic rate. Hormonal shifts can cause a range of symptoms and increase overall risk for heart disease and stroke. And absorption of certain nutrients may decrease because of a loss of stomach acid. Clearly, your diet at 50 should look a bit different from your earlier diet.

The goal of the “50 and over” diet is to maintain weight, consume heart-healthy foods and, above all, stay strong! Use the following 5 tips to live your 50s in fabulous shape.

 

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1. Add B12 to your daily supplements

B12 supports healthy nerve and blood cells and is needed to make DNA. B12 is primarily found in fish and meat. It is bound to a protein in food and must be released from it by digestion in the stomach. As we age, our stomach acid decreases, making it more difficult to absorb nutrients such as B12.

Older adults are at a greater risk for B12 deficiency, but adding the vitamin to your diet in a supplemental form (either by pill or shot) can help prevent symptoms — which can take years to appear — well before they start.

2. Really cut back on salt

The older we get, the more likely we are to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) because our blood vessels become less elastic as we age. Having high blood pressure puts us at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death.

About 72 percent of salt in the American diet comes from processed foods. You should significantly decrease and ideally forgo your consumption of processed foods (chips, frozen dinners, canned soup, etc.) and aim for 1500 mg or less sodium per day, which is about ½ tsp. You can start adding flavorful herbs in place of salt when you cook at home. Many herbs provide anti-cancer benefits as well; oregano, thyme, and rosemary are all high in antioxidants. Ditching processed food also means consuming more whole foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This will increase your fiber consumption. Fiber helps you stay fuller longer, meaning you’ll eat less throughout the day and be more likely to maintain your weight.

3. Check your multivitamin for Iron — and toss it if it has it

The average woman experiences menopause and the cessation of her menstrual period around age 50. After menopause, the need for iron decreases to about 8 mg of iron a day. While the body can’t live without iron, an overabundance can be dangerous as well. Iron toxicity can occur because the body doesn’t have a natural way to excrete iron; too much can cause liver or heart damage and even death. Postmenopausal women should take iron supplements only when prescribed by a physician. If your multivitamin has iron in it, replace it.

4. Pay more attention to calcium and vitamin D

Due to gastric and hormone changes, D levels and calcium absorption tank around age 40. Furthermore, evidence shows that postmenopausal women have an increased risk of osteoporosis because of their lack of estrogen. To make matters worse, after 50, the body will break down more bone than it will build. This puts women over 50 at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

It’s ideal to consume adequate calcium before age 30, but it’s never too late to increase rich calcium sources in your diet. Fabulously delicious sources of calcium include sardines (a double dose of omega 3 through the fish and calcium through the bones), spinach, broccoli, kale, and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. In addition, your physician should test your vitamin D levels and provide additional supplementation as needed (vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium).

5. Eat like a Greek!

As we age, our blood vessels become less elastic, and the force of blood moving through our veins gets stronger. This puts women in menopause at an increased risk of heart disease. But there is a diet to help decrease our risk — and it’s delicious!

When researchers looked at the populations in the world that had the most people over the age of 100, they noticed these individuals shared a few common themes in their lives. The most prevalent commonality was their consumption of a Mediterranean diet. A 2000 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a diet that adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet (which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate wine consumption and olive oil) was associated with longer survival. Further, a 2004 study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease. And a 2010 review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Research affirmed the diet’s powers to protect against major chronic diseases.

Taking a Mediterranean cruise when you retire is a great stress reliever, but switching to a Mediterranean diet may be an even better idea!

 

Conventional wisdom holds that people who eat breakfast are slimmer and more inclined to eat healthy, but German researchers found that eating breakfast did not mean people ate less throughout the day, while Cornell studies have shown that skipping the morning meal can actually aid with weight loss.

Schenker and Bee advocate a diet rich with, among other things, iron (women approaching menopause are more likely to become anemic), vitamin C (to boost skin health), vitamin D (which helps with calcium absorption and immunity) and healthy fats (which help “oil” the aging body by lubricating the joints).

For dinners, the pair recommends dishes such as grilled sea bass with sweet potato and broccoli, a tofu stir fry, and a meat dish like turkey-and-bean chili once or twice a week.

“You only get one life,” says Schenker. “And don’t you dare skip on a glass of wine — it makes more of a merry time!”

5 tips for an ageless body

Go ahead, skip breakfast. Women over the age of 35 who try it say it makes a difference in their weight, and they tend to eat healthier throughout the day. Breakfast is not nutritionally “better” than brunch, so don’t feel guilty if you’re not peckish enough to chow down at a certain time of the day.

Feel full longer. To stay satiated, eat protein at every meal. While you shouldn’t ban carbs from your diet, build only one meal a day around them, and make sure they’re from whole grains.

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Fruits and fats are OK. Fruits are chock-full of fiber and nutrients and can jazz up a savory meal. A range of fats both healthy (nuts, oils, seeds) and saturated (lean meats), in moderation, is OK.

Don’t fuel (or refuel) your workouts. The idea that it’s necessary to eat before a workout is a misconception, and a cottage industry of energy bars and sugary sports drinks has been built around it. Eating well will suffice for the level of exercise you’re doing — 45 minutes a day, four times a week.

Less exercise is more. As you age, less exercise will serve you better in the long run, though you’ll need to up the pace and intensity. Plus, overexercise leads to dreaded “gym face” — that gaunt look when one has sunken cheeks and hollow eyes.

 

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Effect on the chance of subsequent pregnancy quantified for first time

Date:July 3, 2017

Source:European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

For the first time, a large population study has quantified the chance of pregnancy after treatment for cancer diagnosed in girls and women aged 39 or under. This landmark study, which linked all cancers diagnosed in Scotland between 1981 and 2012 to subsequent pregnancy, found that the cancer survivors were 38% less likely to achieve a pregnancy than women in the general population. This detrimental effect on fertility was evident in almost all types of cancer diagnosed.

“This analysis provides the first robust, population-based evidence of the effect of cancer and its treatment on subsequent pregnancy across the full reproductive age range,” said presenter Professor Richard Anderson from the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

“The major impact on pregnancy after some common cancers highlights the need for enhanced strategies to preserve fertility in girls and young women.”

Professor Anderson will present the results of the study today at the Annual Meeting of ESHRE in Geneva.

The need for better access to fertility preservation has become more pressing in recent years for two reasons: first, the improved rates of survival in young women and girls diagnosed with cancer; and second, improvements in the techniques of freezing eggs and ovarian tissue to restore fertility.

This latest study, which cross-linked 23,201 female cancer survivors from the Scottish Cancer Registry with hospital discharge records, revealed 6627 pregnancies among the cancer survivors when nearly 11,000 would have been expected in a comparable matched control group from the general population.

For women who had not been pregnant before their cancer diagnosis, 20.6% of the cancer survivors achieved a first pregnancy after diagnosis (2114 first pregnancies in 10,271 women), compared with 38.7% in the control group. Thus, women with cancer were about half as likely to achieve a first pregnancy after diagnosis as were controls.

The analysis also found that the chance of pregnancy was reduced in all age groups, with substantial variations between different cancer diagnoses — notably, reduced pregnancy rates in women with cervical cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. However, those cancers diagnosed later within the study period (2005-2012) were associated with higher rates of pregnancy than those diagnosed earlier (1981-1988), suggesting that for some cancer treatments the impact on fertility has reduced.

The diagnosis and treatment of female cancers are known to affect fertility for several reasons: some chemotherapy regimens can cause damage to the ovary, and this can occur at any age; radiotherapy can also compromise female fertility through effects on the ovary, uterus and potentially those brain centres which control the reproductive axis.

However, Professor Anderson stressed that the results of the study related only to subsequent pregnancy itself, and not to the incidence of infertility caused by cancer treatment. “Some women may have chosen not to have a pregnancy,” he explained. “Thus, while these results do show an expected reduction in the chance of pregnancy after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, having a pregnancy after cancer does involve a range of complex issues that we cannot address in this study.”

With rates of cancer survival increasing in both young male and females, fertility preservation ahead of treatment has an increasing role to play in fertility clinics. However, Professor Anderson described such services in all parts of the world, including the USA and Europe, as “very variable.” “Oocyte and embryo freezing are regarded as established,” he said, “but ovarian tissue cryopreservation is considered experimental, although it is the only option for prepubertal girls.”

He added that the results of this study would allow clinicians to advise girls and women more accurately about their future chance of pregnancy. “They emphasise the need to consider the possible effects on fertility in girls and women with a new cancer diagnosis. The implications of the diagnosis and planned treatment and, where appropriate, options for fertility preservation should be discussed with the patient and her family. Even for patients considered at low risk of infertility as a result of treatment, a fertility discussion is recommended before treatment begins.”

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Healthy Heart

I think we all know that fasting from food is not a really good idea.  But now there are some researchers in Utah who suggest that the occasional 24 hour fast can actually be good for your heart!

It seems that if you fast, it could lead to a better cholesterol reading and lower blood sugar levels.  This, of course, can help you combat heart disease.   At this time, however, this idea is only an idea.  It is not part of a full-fledged study.  Indeed, even the researchers acknowledge that not eating can also make one more stressful which, on the other hand, might also damage the heart!

I’ll guess I’ll wait to do my Gandhi thing until we get more info.

Meanwhile, an 11 year study of British workers says that there is a 67% greater risk of heart disease in people who regularly work more than 11 hours a day.    Note to Self:  chill out.

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Downward Graph on Women's Health

The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a “report card” on the state of women’s health in this country – and it looks like we’re failing girls.

The Center reviewed the goals of the recent “Healthy People” initiative and found that 23 of the 26 goals outlined in the government’s plan so far remained unmet.  Now, this is a decade long effort but still, it doesn’t look good.  When referring specifically to women, the report found that more women are engaging in binge drinking and less women are being screened for cervical cancer than in 2007. Indeed, the percentage of women who reported consuming five or more drinks at a time in the past month jumped more than 3% since 2007, to 10.6%, while the percentage of women who received annual pap smears dropped nearly 10% to 78% over the same time period.

And there’s more!  According to the Center, more women reported obesity, hypertension and diabetes than they did in 2007.  More tested positive for chlamydia.  And here’s no surprise, out of all the states in the union guess which ones came in dead last?  Yep, Louisiana and Mississippi came in 50th and 51st, respectively.  Big shock, huh?

Still, in every report, there has to be some good news, right?  Well, I found it.  One indicator – cholesterol

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screening — received a higher grade than in the previous report.  Also, three goals of the Healthy People 2010 initiative were met, including the percentage of women receiving regular mammograms, visiting the dentist and screening for colorectal cancer. Also worth noting is that the rate of smoking among women declined in 42 states, making that one of the most improved health status indicators.

Still, it’s clear to me that you girls have got to get your act together, especially you young ones.  Sure, you may not feel bad right now and you probably cannot even imagine what it will be like to be 60 years old but unless you take care of yourself now, you’re gonna pay for it later.  I’m 61 and as I said in a previous post, I probably drank too much in my younger days.  And, now I am struggling with gout.

It ain’t fun getting old, my dears….Don’t make things worse by not taking care of yourself now.

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