Women's health

Healthy habits are the best way to avoid disease, prolong life, and live more happily. Take these simple steps toward a longer, healthier life.

Eat Natural Foods

Packaged and processed foods are often full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. Avoid the fake stuff, and opt for the good stuff:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fiber-rich foods (beans and leafy greens)
  • fresh fish
  • lean cuts of meat and poultry
  • healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, etc.)
  • low-fat dairy

Here's a grocery-shopping tip: shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find the fresh foods. Try to avoid the inside aisles, where most of the boxed and processed foods reside. Also, be sure to make a list and stick to it.

Eat Your Vitamins

You can get your vitamins with a daily multivitamin, but eating vitamin-rich foods serves up extra benefits — plenty of healthy fiber and minerals. Eat a variety of foods in a variety of colors and you should meet your vitamin, mineral, and fiber requirements without the need for a supplement.

Get Moving

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease and keep your ticker strong. Aim for 30 minutes of movement, at least four days a week. Aerobic exercise — including walking, jogging, dancing, and swimming — is best, and should be combined with some type of strength training.

Avoid Known Health Risks

Don't smoke. And steer clear of those who do. Secondhand smoke is as dangerous as smoking.

Other known risks to health include drugs and alcohol. Don't use recreational drugs, and consume alcohol only in moderation. For women, that means 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or about one ounce of spirits each day. One five-ounce glass of wine a day may help cut heart disease risk, but more than that increases your risk of cancer and other problems

Know Your Breasts

Many doctors and experts still recommend self-exams on a monthly basis starting at age 20 and yearly mammograms starting at age 40, or earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.

Baby Your Skin

The skin-related choices you make in your 20s, such as tanning beds and long days at the pool, will rear their ugly heads as you age.

To protect against wrinkles, age spots, and even cancer, slather on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

You should also make sure to wear protective clothing and sunglasses, and make sure to avoid the sun entirely in the middle of the day. If you spot any changes in freckles or new or unusual spots, see your dermatologist.

Put on Your Best Smile

Good dental and oral health goes beyond a blindingly white set of chompers. Daily brushing and flossing keeps away cavities, gum disease, and even the doctor, as having healthy teeth and gums can actually reduce your risk of heart disease.

Deal with Stress

Career. Kids. Family. Friends. Volunteer work. Many women are swimming in stress and responsibilities, which can manifest more than just gray hairs. Excessive stress can translate to:

  • high blood pressure
  • upset stomach or other gastrointestinal issues
  • back pain
  • relationship conflicts
  • sleeping difficulties
  • abdominal weight gain

You can better manage stress with relaxation techniques such as:

  • therapy
  • prayer
  • meditation
  • yoga or tai chi
  • exercise

Visit the Doctor

Other than breast exams and gynecological visits, you should make sure to visit your family doctor or internist regularly for checkups and screening exams. You should have blood work, biometric data (such as blood pressure and weight), and other preventive testing measures done at your yearly physical. These tests can nip potential issues in the bud.