Sunday, December 21, 2014

Combine good Nutrition and Exercise to combat evil Menopause

The 'M' word is as scary to women as erectile dysfunction to men. Already a woman's body buffers a lot more stress unlike a man's, due to all physiological yet exhaustive processes involved with her gender, starting from menarche to menopause. After all these years of continuous biological test of stamina as she reaches her advanced years, nature gifts her with 'Menopause'... what an irony! Menopause is not just about mood swings, obesity, hot flashes, anxiety, or depression, but it's a state where most women start feeling “It is all Over for me!”. Despite galore of information available today, many questions about menopause and how to combat this inevitable remain mostly unsorted. So, the current scenario is- researchers are desperate, clinicians are doubtful and ultimately patients remain unsatisfied. I won't go into that gray zone of confusions, rather my today's talk would be confined to- how can we combine good Nutrition and Exercise to combat evil Menopause. No hormone replacement therapy (HRT) shall be addressed in this article as HRT is associated with increased risks of heart diseases, strokes and development of breast cancer; Only few tested, safe and practical measures which every woman can follow would find places in subsequent paragraphs.

Essential Nutritional modifications for Menopausal Women:

* Probably you're thinking of 'Osteoporosis' or fragile bones by now. Unfortunately, it's not only your bones but muscles too take the blow of menopause! Due to fall of estrogen level in your body, calcium absorption deteriorates which demands for a diet rich in calcium. If you're a menopausal woman you need little less than 1500 mg of calcium per day. In our country, richest dietary calcium sources are milk and milk products (curd, yogurt etc). For your estimation: 100 ml of cow-milk provides you around 120 mg of calcium. Take 500-700 ml of milk per day (unless you have milk intolerance) and pop in a 500 mg calcium tablet, in fixed dose combination with vitamin D3 (you can procure the same OTC).

* As I mentioned earlier, menopause weakens your muscles too, which may manifest as muscular/joint aches with normal exercise. Easiest way of combating menopausal muscle wastage is to increase your dietary protein intake. As a thumb-rule, 1 gram of protein per kg of your ideal body weight can efficiently safeguard your body muscles. Comparing your present weight with normal range of BMI (Body Mass Index) can be one way of finding out your ideal body weight or, simply use an online Ideal body weight calculator for the same.

* Unless you're affected by thyroid disorders you are free to consume soy products liberally up to 50 grams a day. Other than rich calcium content, soy products also contain magnesium, boron, isoflavones, phytoestrogens etc which have multiple protective functions in a woman's body. Dietary soy improves overall bone health, decreases risk of fracture, prevents hot flashes and also has some protective role against breast cancer!

* Limit your Tea and Coffee intake, as tannin and caffeine (principal stimulant ingredients of tea and coffee respectively) are known to cause calcium loss from human body.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Exercises to Strengthen your Muscles during Pregnancy

Having already advocated 4 Easy Exercises for a Healthier Pregnancy and how to Relieve your Back Pain during Pregnancy, I'm taking slight liberty by now to assume that you know why it is so important for you to exercise during pregnancy. Your highly loyal body is over-clocking to keep up with your ongoing pregnancy related changes. I know you're being a good boss too, helping it with a lot of physical and mental adjustments from your side! So, why don't you oblige your stressed body with a light exercise regimen specially tailored for strengthening your muscles during pregnancy? Whenever you feel pain or discomfort your natural instinct would guide you to rest, is understandable. But, do not listen to that lazy instinct when you're pregnant. Introduce a light exercise regimen in your daily schedule. You'll be amazed how an exercise routine with few simple movements for half an hour a day can minimize your body aches and boost up your overall energy level! If you were not exercising earlier, 13th week can be a good starting point for your pregnancy exercises. Do you remember the other benefits of exercising during pregnancy? Lesser weight gain, fewer physical complaints, easier labor, smoother delivery and quicker post-childbirth healing... wow!

Before you start with this exercise regimen, you may consult your cute doctor (skip the 'cute' part if you're reading this article with your husband) to ensure that these exercises are suitable for your case and you must ask for your doctor's opinion if you have preexisting problems like history of heart diseases, high blood pressure, asthma, multiple pregnancy, premature labor etc. It is worthwhile to mention that these exercises can be combined in alternate days with those 4 elementary yet golden exercises for a healthier pregnancy- Walking, Swimming, Exercycling and Yoga.

Strengthen your Abdominal muscles with Pelvic Tilts: This can be the easiest exercise to begin with. Lie flat on your back with knees bent perpendicular and feet resting on the floor. This can also be performed in other positions but I've noticed 'lying flat on the floor' is the easiest one for majority of pregnant women. If you place your hand below the lower half of your back you'll discover a space enclosed between your arching spine and the flat floor. All you have to do now is trying to flatten your back against the floor so as to obliterate that mini arch below you, without involving your muscles down the waist. Repeat it about 10 times and move to the next after a brief resting period.
Pelvic Tilt
Strengthen your Pelvic Floor muscles with Kegel's exercise: It requires some effort on your part based on imagination. Visualize pulling the muscles of the vaginal area up as if to lift your internal organs towards your baby. If it is difficult to follow, you may also visualize stopping your pee in the middle of the action. Don't pee and try, all I am saying you is to imagine the act. Hold the position as tightly as possible and maintain it for 2-3 seconds without forgetting to breath during the exercise. This position holding period can be extended up to 8-10 seconds slowly. Keep in mind- to effectively involve your pelvic floor muscles you need to consciously keep your abdominal, thigh and buttock muscles relaxed during Kegel's exercise. Repeat it 3-5 times.