Health tips for women above 40: Lifestyle, diet changes to ensure 40s is new 20s
With the Covid-19 pandemic entering its third year, the odds to create a balance in professional and personal lives continues and women are facing the brunt of it more savagely, be it at home or in workplace courtesy the long work hours along with family responsibilities and household chores with lack of social interactions. As a result, women are compromising on their health, not realizing the long term impact.
Brushing aside the gloomy scenario in an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anjali Kumar, Founder of Maitri Woman's Health lifted spirits by offering, “40s is the new 20s. Women should embrace this period fully as by now they have experienced every emotions of their lives. It’s imperative that they should now give priority to their health first.”
Health tips for women above 40:
Dr Anjali Kumar advised, “Begin your day with a healthy breakfast. Never skip your breakfast as studies have also suggested that women who eat breakfast lose more weight and sustain their loss more effectively than those on a low-carb diet. Don’t miss out on your exercise. It’s must to involve in any kind of physical activity for at least half an hour.”
Asserting that this is the time when women should pay attention to their bones, Dr Anjali Kumar said, “Give them a boost with calcium and vitamin D which you can get naturally from foods. Don’t forget to schedule your vital health check-ups including breast cancer and cervical cancer.”
Emphasizing on the need for women, especially those above 40 years of age, to continue with routine check ups with their gynaecologist to detect any sinister diseases they may be harbouring before the situation gets out of hand, Dr Ritu Sethi, Senior Consultant - Gynaecology at Cloud Nine Hospital in Gurgaon said, “The most important of this is the yearly mammography which is a specialized X-ray of the breast carried out to detect small lumps or nodules which might not even be detected by regular self -examination. The mammogram is a simple test, cheap and carried out at most diagnostic centres and should be performed annually in all women above the age of 40 years."
She also suggested that a routine pelvic examination along with a Pap smear should be performed routinely. “The pelvic examination along with ultrasound, will detect some cancers of the female genital tract like ovarian cancers which are silent killers are usually are detected after the disease has spread extensively. A Pap smear is another test recommended for all women as it can detect cervical cancer in the precancerous stages itself. Again it is a cheap, easy to perform and simple tests carried out by the gynaecologist,” Dr Ritu Sethi assured.
It is important here to note that most female cancers like breast, ovarian and cervical cancer are usually detected at late stages and if a women is undergoing routine check ups with her gynaecologist, these cancers can be detected at an early stage when they are fully curable. Hence, Dr Ritu Sethi warned, “Women start losing their bone density extensively after 40, which is why routine bone densitometry is recommended for all women after 40 years. Besides this, routine tests like blood sugar, lipid profile and thyroid investigations are also recommended for all women to screen for onset of lifestyle disorders like hypertension and type 2 diabetes which, if not treated in time, can lead to stroke and myocardial infarctions later on in life.”
Echoing the same, Dr Akta Bajaj, Senior Consultant and Head- Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, “Annual mammograms are recommended for women over the age of 40 to detect breast cancer in its early stages. The same is true for heart disease: a calcium test can reveal whether the arteries are beginning to harden and whether a woman requires major lifestyle changes or medication.”
She added, “Women over 40 should also boost their calcium and vitamin D consumption to improve the health of their bones. Regular eye exams should also be performed in order to rectify any refractive errors. A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, may help to decrease vision loss. It's a good idea to check blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body weight around the age of 40.”
Highlighting that we become less flexible as we become older, Dr Akta Bajaj suggested that incorporating yoga or Pilates into a daily routine can help improve flexibility, core strength, balance, etc. and recommended that eating fewer calories can help you feel better when metabolism slows around the age of 40.
The doctors stressed that if lifestyle and dietary modifications are done well in time, many of these lifestyle disorders can be treated early thus, preventing the long term health complications arising from these diseases. They insisted that it is imperative for women to realise the importance of consulting their gynaecologist regularly and carrying out relevant investigations above the age of 40 years.