Women's Health Product Categories:
Women's Health Information:
Osteoporosis. Iron deficiency. Weight reduction. PMS. Incontinence. Menopause. Skin care. What do these things have in common? They are either unique to women, or are more of a concern to women. They affect current recommendations on what women should eat for optimum health.
While new information on what's good and what's bad seems to surface almost daily, some basic guidelines have taken root over the past several years.
The bottom line (also known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture) is:
Following are some of the herbs that appear in current scientific literature that are especially beneficial for women.
Eases PMS Symptoms
Evening Primrose Oil for PMS
Women who experience
urinary incontinence, probably have two of the following indicators:
frequency of urination (usually defined as more than 8 times in 24 hours),
urgency (an immediate and strong urge to urinate), and leaking or
involuntary loss of urine.
Butterbur Extract has
been shown in research to improve the sudden urge to urinate.
Butterbur Extract has been shown in research to improve the sudden urge to urinate.
Quai & Reproductive Balance
Cohosh & Menopause
Long-term consumption of soy isoflavones by premenopausal women could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. In order to reflect dietary patterns in Asia, this consumption should begin well before menopause. The value of soy isoflavones in modifying cardiovascular risk is suggested, but more research is necessary to better understand their effects.6
Soybean protein may cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. However, the allergic reactions are less likely to occur with dietary supplements standardized to isoflavonoid content, since they contain low quantities of proteins.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which progressive loss of bone mass occurs with aging. Osteoporosis causes the bones to be more susceptible to fracture. If a woman has a high level of bone mass when her skeleton matures, this may reduce her risk of developing osteoporosis.
Therefore, particularly during adolescence and early adulthood, women should increase their food sources of calcium. "The most important time to get a sufficient amount of calcium is while bone growth and consolidation are occurring, a period that continues until approximately age 30 to 35," says Marilyn Stephenson, a registered dietitian with FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "The idea is, if you can build a maximum peak of calcium deposits early on, this may delay fractures that occur later in life."
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium for woman 19 to 24 is 1,200 milligrams per day. For women 25 and older, the allowance drops to 800 milligrams, but that is still a significant amount, says Stephenson. "The need for good dietary sources of calcium continues throughout life," she says.
How do you get enough calcium without too many calories and fat? After all, the foods that top the calcium charts–milk, cheese, ice cream–aren't calorie and fat lightweights.
"There are lots of lower fat choices," says Stephenson. "There's 1 percent or skim milk instead of whole milk. There's a good variety of lower fat cheeses, yogurts, and frozen yogurts, and there's a whole flock of substitutes for ice cream."
In addition to dairy foods, other good sources of calcium include salmon, tofu (soybean curd), certain vegetables (for example, broccoli), legumes (peas and beans), calcium-enriched grain products, lime-processed tortillas, seeds, and nuts.
After menopause, body iron stores generally begin to increase. Therefore, iron deficiency in women over 50 may indicate blood loss from another source, and should be checked by a physician.
Animal products–meat, fish and poultry–are good and important sources of iron. In addition, the type of iron, known as heme iron, in these foods is well absorbed in the human intestine.
Dietary iron from plant sources, called non-heme, are found in peas and beans, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, potatoes, and whole-grain and iron-fortified cereal products. Although non-heme iron is not as well absorbed as heme iron, the amount of non-heme iron absorbed from a meal is influenced by other constituents in the diet. The addition of even relatively small amounts of meat or foods containing vitamin C substantially increases the total amount of iron absorbed from the entire meal.
The best way for a woman to determine whether she's eating the right number of calories is to "keep stepping on the scale," says FDA's Stephenson.
She cautions, however, that cutting back on calories isn't always the answer to losing weight. "You don't really want to cut back any more [calories] if you're down around that [1,500 calories] range," says Stephenson. She explains that the fewer the calories you have to work with, the harder it is to meet all your daily requirements for a healthy diet.
"If you find you are gaining weight, you need to think of not only cutting calories, but also about increasing exercise," she says. "Calories are only half the equation for weight control. Physical activity burns calories, increases the proportion of lean to fat body mass, and raises your metabolism. So, a combination of both calorie control and increased physical activity is important for attaining healthy weight.
"On the other hand, if you've been pigging out–well, you know what you have to do."
For both women and men, blood cholesterol levels of below 200 milligrams are desirable. Levels between 200 and 239 milligrams are considered borderline, and anything over 240 milligrams is high. High levels of blood cholesterol increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
To keep levels in the good range, the National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends eating no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day. Cholesterol is found only in food from animal sources, such as egg yolks, dairy products, meat, poultry, shellfish, and--in smaller amounts--fish and some processed products containing animal foods.
Even more important than limiting cholesterol to under 300 milligrams is keeping saturated fat to under 10 percent of total calories, says Nancy Ernst, the nutrition coordinator for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
"Don't even think about cholesterol in your diet," says Ernst. "Focus on reducing saturated fat."
"We believe pretty strongly in the link [between high-fat diets and breast cancer]," says Jeffrey McKenna, director of NCI's Cancer Awareness Program.
Population studies have also linked high-fat diets to other cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.
Fat does, however, serve a purpose in the diet. Fats in foods provide energy and help the body absorb certain vitamins. But it is as easy as pie (and doughnuts, ice cream, and sirloin steaks) to eat too much.
For a healthy diet, the diet and health report of the National Research Council recommends reducing fat to no more than 30 percent of total calories. But that's not all. In terms of heart disease, the kinds of fat you eat are as important as how much.
There are three kinds of fat–saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. All three are equal when it comes to calories–9 per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram for protein or carbohydrate). But they aren't equal when it comes to how they affect your health.
More than anything else in the diet, saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol level. Because of this risk, less than one-third of your daily fat intake (less than 10 percent of total calories) should come from saturated fats.
That's the bad news. The good news is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated may actually lower blood cholesterol levels. The diet and health report recommends that not more than 10 percent of total calories should be from polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat should make up the remaining 10 percent.
The foods with the highest amounts of saturated fat come from animals–meat, of course, and foods derived from animals, such as butter, cream, ice cream, and cheese. In addition to animal products, coconut and palm kernel oils are very high in saturated fat–over 90 percent.
The best sources for polyunsaturated fats are plant-based oils–sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, and safflower. Monounsaturated fats are found in the largest amounts in olive, canola and peanut oils.
Eating foods with plenty of complex carbohydrates and fiber (vegetables, fruits, and grain products) is part of a healthy diet for several reasons. A fiber-rich diet is helpful in the management of constipation and may be related to lower rates of colon cancer. These types of foods are generally low in fat and can be substitutes for fatty foods.
Fiber comes in two forms--insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber, mostly found in whole-grain products, vegetables and fruit, provides bulk for stool formation and helps move wastes more quickly through the colon. Another benefit is the full feeling fiber may create in the stomach, a possible deterrent to overeating.
Soluble fiber has been linked to lowering blood cholesterol levels, but that's still a research area according to the Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health. There are many sources of soluble fiber, including peas and beans, many vegetables and fruits, and rice, corn and oat bran. There are even small amounts in pasta, crackers, and other bakery products.
Although foods containing fiber seem to exert a protective effect against some cancers, the diet and health report points out there is no conclusive evidence that dietary fiber itself, rather than other components, exerts this effect. Therefore, the report does not recommend the use of fiber supplements.
As important as fiber is to good health, it can be overdone. NCI recommends an upper limit of 35 grams a day. More probably won't further increase the benefits from fiber, and may interfere with the body's ability to absorb iron and other minerals.
When increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, do it slowly, so your body can become accustomed to handling it. Adding too much fiber too quickly may lead to uncomfortable side effects, including abdominal discomfort, flatulence and diarrhea.
Menopause is when a woman's menstrual periods stop altogether and a woman is said to have gone through menopause when her menstrual periods have stopped for an entire year. This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can happen as early as 35 or as late as 65 years of age. It can also result from the surgical removal of both ovaries. The physical and emotional signs and symptoms that go with menopause usually last around one to two years or more, and vary from woman to woman. The changes are a result of hormonal changes such as estrogen decline, the aging process itself, and stress.
The physical signs and symptoms associated with menopause may include hot flashes, heart palpitations, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, loss of bladder tone, headaches, dizziness, skin and hair changes, loss of muscle strength and tone, and decreased bone mineral density. Emotional changes associated with menopause may include irritability, mood changes, lack of concentration, difficulty with memory, tension, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often used to reduce many of the symptoms of menopause. It also offers significant protection against osteoporosis and heart disease. However, it may increase the risk of certain types of cancer and some women are unable or unwilling to use HRT.
Regular exercise and stress reduction techniques can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of menopause. Dietary measures that may be beneficial include limiting or avoiding drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, spicy foods, and heavy meals. Soy foods such as tofu, which contain compounds known as phytoestrogens, have been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms in many women. A woman's risk of disorders such as heart disease and osteoporosis increases after menopause, and the various dietary measures and supplements outlined above can be used to prevent these.
Dori Stehlin is a staff writer for FDA Consumer.
Out Your Fat Intake
Article adapted with permission
from Stehlin D. Women and Nutrition: A Menu of Special Needs. FDA Consumer;
7-Keto DHEA -
Ageless Face, Ageless Mind -
Alpha-Lipoic Acid and
Aronia from Chokeberry
- Avemar -
Beta Glucan -
- Bioperine -
Butterbur - Cetyl
Myristoleate (CMO) -
Sun, Yaeyama -
Coconut Oil -
- Curcumin from Turmeric -
Epicor -Fenugreek - French Maritime Pine Tree Bark -
& Chondroitin -
Goji Berry -
Seed Extract -
Green Tea -
- Hoodia -
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) -
Hydrogen (H-): The Fuel of Life -
Krill Oil -
L-Carnitine - L-Carnosine -
Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP)
- Mushrooms -
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) -
Nattokinase - Neptune
Krill Oil -
of Oregano -
Omega-3 - DHA, EPA -
Pepsin GI -
Phosphatidyl Serine (PS) -
- Policosanol -
Inflammation and Weight Loss
- Immune -
Life Force Multiple -
Mercury Cleansing -
Thistle and Liver Disease -
Specials | Product Info |
Old Health News | FAQs |
About us |
Links3 | Sitemap |
Alphabetic Product Listing | Products by Category | Links4 | Links5
TOLL FREE: 800-401-9186
Copyright © 2001-2010, Discount Herbs & Vitamins, Inc. All rights reserved.
These statements have not
been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Please consult a qualified medical practitioner for medical advice.