Unless you’re a vegetarian, fruits and vegetables probably aren’t your idea of a tasty treat. In fact, over 90 percent of American adults and children fail to eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by nutrition guides from MyPlate and Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Our practice specializes in women’s nutrition and our patients often ask what they can do to improve their overall health. One simple, yet effective tip is to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
It’s difficult to change your eating habits overnight, but there are several ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet without drastically altering your every day life. Why not swap out a carb-loaded side dish for a steamed vegetable? Or try eating an apple with yogurt for breakfast instead of a pastry from your local coffee shop. Sometimes the smallest lifestyle changes can lead to major health and nutritional benefits down the road.
Since March is National Nutrition Month, we’re sharing five great reasons to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Lower your risk for illness and disease
Fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system, especially when combined with regular exercise. And fruits and veggies can lower your risk for hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.
Easy for grab and go snacking
Most fruits and vegetables don’t require preparation: you just grab, go, and eat. If you feel that you lack time in your busy schedule to prepare healthy foods, load up on produce you can easily eat on the go, such as bananas, apples, celery and baby carrots. Fruits and veggies are convenient, and easy to eat on the fly.
Increase your fiber intake
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fiber, which lends to good digestive health. The more regular your bowel movements, the more effectively your body will flush out waste and toxins. Stop relying on fiber-enriched cereals and over-the-counter fiber supplements, and get more natural sources of fiber from fruits and veggies.
An endless variety to explore
There are literally thousands of fruits and vegetables in the world, not to mention different varieties of each. For instance, you can visit most grocery stores and choose from at least five different apples. There’s no reason to ever grow bored with fruits and veggies, given your many options.
Get more vitamins and minerals than processed foods
Many packaged, processed foods lack nutritional value and can make you feel sluggish, tired, and less energetic. But fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals so you can benefit from improved immunity and more energy.
Fruits and vegetables don’t just have to be eaten alone or in salads. Browse cookbooks and the Internet for healthy recipes that contain plenty of fruits and vegetables, and start eating produce with every meal.
Ladies, when is that last time you treated yourself to a little TLC? As part of National Women’s Health Week from May 14 – May 20, Women’s Care Florida is encouraging you to take a little more “me time” for both your mind and body. Treat yourself to some self-care activities that both prevent disease and boost your wellbeing.
In part one of this blog post series, we provide information about why women should take time out of their schedules to take care of their body and minds. In part two, we will give you self-care and prevention tips on how to lead a healthier life. This week (and year round), it’s doctor’s orders that you spend time taking care of yourself. If you need a little convincing, here are the top reasons you should treat yourself.
Women Care So Much for Others
Multiple studies show that women are more likely to spend time caring for others—sometimes at the cost of giving care to themselves.
According to the AARP, 66 percent of all caregivers for seniors are women. Twenty-five percent of these women face health issues due to caregiving while 21 percent have fewer mammograms than women who are not caregivers.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 39 percent of women responded that they were solely responsible for missing work to take care of a sick child while only 3 percent of men said the same.
You care so much for others; it’s vital that you treat yourself the same way. Many women see self-care as selfish; however, in many cases it’s simply showing yourself the same consideration you would show to your partner or children.
Self-Care Comes in Many Forms
The term self-care can be a little confusing because it has come to mean so many things, from spending time on your own to taking the lead on managing your diabetes. The main goal of all self-care, however, is to increase your health and happiness.
This week you can take part in a variety of self-care activities that should be incorporated into your normal routine. These activities include:
Visiting your doctor for health screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies or physical exams
Getting enough sleep
Going on long walks by yourself or with friends
Talking with your closest friends about how you are feeling
Eating a healthy diet
Taking a yoga class
Doing an activity you love
Enjoying a long bath
Self-Care Offers Women’s Health Benefits
Every woman will have different self-care needs, but all of these activities can have positive benefits on your physical and mental health. Women who regularly take time to care for themselves may see benefits such as:
Lowered stress levels
Better physical fitness
Lower body mass index
Reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, depression and other chronic health conditions
Self-care activities are so beneficial because they are often the preventive care strategies your doctor suggests. National Women’s Health Week is the perfect time to take part in these activities, not only because your doctor advises it, but because you deserve a little time to treat—and love—yourself.
If you aren’t sure how to treat yourself, read part II of this feature where we look at doctor-approved self-care plans or schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN to learn about the preventive care services you need.
At Women’s Care Florida, we know it’s not always easy for women to take time to care for themselves, but during National Women’s Health Week, it’s doctor’s orders. We’ve come up with some simple plans to help you get a little “me time,” by outlining some of our favorite things: preventive care and self-care.
Get Up-to-Date on Vaccines
Taking care of your health means taking care of yourself. Many adults forget that vaccines aren’t just for kids; your immunity as an adult can protect you, your young kids and your senior relatives. Care for yourself by scheduling an appointment with your physician for a health screening and to get an update on your vaccinations. Your doctor may suggest that you receive:
Most women don’t look forward to their mammograms, but it’s an important screening that could save your life. Breast cancer that is caught in early stages by screenings has a 99 percent survival rate.
According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, all women between the ages of 50 and 74 should receive a mammogram once every two years; however, some women at high risk of breast cancer should receive their first mammogram at a younger age or may need more frequent mammograms. You might be at a high risk if you have a family history of breast cancer; for instance, you have a mother, grandmother and aunt who have all had breast cancer.
Your self-care routine is simply not complete without your annual screenings. If you want to learn more about breast cancer screenings, click here to check out some helpful information on our website.
Check-In With Your Gynecologist
Your annual gynecological exam is a great way to let someone else take care of you. Your gynecologist wants to see you every year to check for signs of health conditions or provide care, including annual preventative exams, reproductive/contraceptive management, and treatment for menopause or other gynecologic conditions. During your exam, you can also ask any and all health questions you might have. Your doctor can help you with a lot of quality of life issues—weight loss, sex, PMS— no topic is out of bounds. To learn more about Women’s Care Florida’s comprehensive gynecological program, click here.
Reward Yourself for Self-Caring
Once you’ve updated your vaccines, had your yearly mammogram and have seen your gynecologist, think about some other ways you can take care of your body and your mind. Why not try one of these healthy, self-care activities:
A soothing massage to help you release stress, relax tense muscles and treat aches and pains
A night out with some friends for mental-health-boosting social time
Drinking a glass of red wine to improve your heart health
Taking a hot bath to ease aches and pains
A yoga class to lower your stress and ease back pain
Go shopping with friends and walk a lap or two while you’re at the mall
No matter how you choose to celebrate National Women’s Health Week, what’s important is that you remember to take care of yourself and your health. If you aren’t sure how to improve your health or don’t know what preventive care services you need, please schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN or read this article we wrote about why you should take care of yourself this week.
As mothers, we want our children to be healthy and happy. We do our best to teach them wrong from right and intervene only when necessary (at least we try?). Some situations are trickier to navigate than others — especially if you have a daughter. When it comes to talking to them about their body weight or proper nutrition, there are a few steps you can take to make the talk go a bit smoother. But to get your message across, you should try to set an example for your daughter and provide her with the education she needs to live a healthier life.
At Women’s Care Florida, we have programs and services to help with nutrition and weight loss. Use our resources to help facilitate a talk with your daughter about weight. Or schedule an appointment with Women’s Care Florida to learn more about comprehensive women’s health services that can help your teen maintain her health.
Here are some tips on how to talk about weight with your daughter without making her feel self-conscious about her physical appearance and overall well-being:
Set a good example
Before jumping into any big talks with your daughter about weight, take steps on your own to set a good example. Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables, and stop buying processed foods that lack nutrition. Cook more meals at home, and limit the number of times you dine out. Also, start exercising regularly and invite your daughter along. These are all good steps you can take to help influence your daughter and family to live healthier.
Focus on her overall health
Instead of focusing on your daughter’s size when discussing weight management, focus on healthy living as a whole. For instance, talk about how exercise, sleep, and nutrition can lead to better overall health and naturally help drive weight loss. Instead of fixating on the short-term, teaching her how to live a healthier lifestyle can help her make smarter choices in the long-run.
Talk in a comfortable, private setting
Talking about weight and body image can be highly emotional for your daughter. Avoid bringing up the topic of weight loss in front of other people, including other family members. Also, avoid bringing up the topic when she’s eating, which could make her feel self-conscious or negative about her eating habits. The more comfortable your daughter feels with you, the more likely she’ll be to open up and share thoughts and concerns about her weight.
Make an appointment with your OB-GYN
Sometimes, teens are more willing to listen to doctors than their parents when it comes to matters of health. If you feel that your daughter isn’t receptive to your feedback and education on weight management, or if your daughter is facing problems losing weight, make an appointment with your OB-GYN. Your doctor can have a heart-to-heart with your daughter about the role of weight management in women’s health, and work with her on becoming healthier.
Schedule an appointment with Women’s Care Florida to learn more about comprehensive women’s health services that can help your teen maintain her health.
July in Florida means a lot of things: swarms of tourists, afternoon storms and heavy humidity that ruins all hairstyles. But the sunshine, heat, and humidity also bring along a wealth of health hazards. While you probably take steps to protect your skin health, are you looking out for your gynecological health, too?
Florida weather can increase your risk for women’s health conditions such as:
Hot temperatures and tight shorts can leave your vagina prone to infections. This damp, warm environment is perfectly suited for bacteria to grow and thrive, increasing your risk for bacterial vaginosis or vaginitis.
To help protect against a bacterial infection, wear loosely fitted clothing made of natural, breathable materials like cotton or linen. During hot, humid nights, you may also consider sleeping without underwear.
Whether you are in an air-conditioned office or out on the beach, you should also get up and move around frequently. Sitting too long can contribute to too-warm temperatures in your vagina.
The hot Florida weather also increases your risk for yeast infections. You can reduce your risk for these itchy, uncomfortable infections with similar strategies to bacterial vaginosis: wear loose cotton clothing and move frequently.
It’s also important that you avoid douching products. Though you may not feel very fresh down there during the summer, douching products can get rid of the bacteria you need, throwing your vagina’s pH levels out of balance. When your pH is out of whack, it can encourage yeast to grow and thrive.
If you feel like you need to freshen up between showers, carry gentle, unscented feminine wipes with you. Only use these wipes the same way you would use toilet paper: wipe from front to back with a gentle motion.
Urinary Tract Infections
One of the top causes of urinary tract infections (UTI) is dehydration, and dehydration can happen fast in Florida summers. Without enough fluid intake, bacteria that you would normally get rid of when you use the bathroom end up staying in your urinary tract, multiplying and causing infections.
To lower your risk for a UTI, be sure to drink plenty of water all day long. You will know you are getting enough fluids if your urine is a pale yellow or clear whenever you use the bathroom.
Many women make extra grooming efforts before putting on a bikini in the summer. However, if you shave immediately before heading to the pool or into the ocean, you may be increasing your risk for a skin infection. Right after you shave or wax, your skin is sensitive and your follicles are wide open. This makes it easier for bacteria and other germs to irritate your skin.
Instead, take care of any grooming 24 to 48 hours before you plan to go swimming. Keep the area moisturized to help skin heal quickly.
You do your best to lead a healthy life: you exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and get a good night’s sleep. You don’t smoke, drink excessively or let stress get the best of you. All in all, you’re doing a good job of protecting your health. Right? Right?
Leading a healthy life does include smart diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. But there’s an important protection many adults are leaving out of the equation — vaccinations.
Most adults know that an annual influenza (flu) vaccination is strongly recommended, but many don’t realize there are additional adult immunizations based on age, health conditions and other factors. For example, protection against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and shingles should be a consideration for everyone, and depending on your childhood vaccinations, you may need immunization against HPV, chickenpox and other diseases. We’ll discuss the recommended schedule for these and other vaccines in our next post.
If you’re surprised to learn that immunization is important to adults, you’re not alone. According to a 2016 release put out by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “80 percent of adults ages 19 and older have not received recommended vaccinations to protect them against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and more than 70 percent of adults ages 60 and older have not received recommended shingles vaccinations.”
Those are some big numbers, but does that mean vaccinations are a big deal? Without question. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases states that 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. each year; this is greater than the number of adult deaths caused by breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, or traffic accidents. And according to a recent survey put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the prevalence of illness attributable to vaccine-preventable diseases is greater among adults than among children.”
With so much attention given to childhood vaccinations in our country, these findings may be surprising. The CDC offers a number of factors that contribute to the low awareness among adults, including limited public awareness, lack of health insurance, and an increase in patients seeking care when sick rather than getting preventative care services. Another deterrent is misinformation, de-spite the fact that numerous studies support the safety of vaccines.
Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise.
Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death.
Vaccines are safe.
Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent.
Young and healthy people can get very sick, too.
Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive.
When you get sick, your children, grandchildren and parents are at risk, too.
Your family and coworkers need you.
For all of these reasons, Women’s Care Florida strongly encourages you to speak with your OB/GYN about recommended immunizations with regard to your health history. You may even be able to receive needed vaccinations at your next annual exam or scheduled visit. To find a Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN, click here.