By Michael F. Roizen, MD,
professor of anesthesiology
and internal medicine
at State University of New York
Upstate Medical University, Syracuse.
Everyone knows that exercise and a wellbalanced diet can slow the effects of aging...but that's only part of the story. The "RealAge" concept is a scientific way of calculating a number that reflects your overall state of health rather than your calender age.
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Hormones & Herbal Solutions
Most of the health problems that are specific to women can be traced to their endless cycle of hormones. Some of us ride natural hormonal changes like crests a wave, while others feel more as though they are being pulled into the undertow! If you fall into the later group, keep in mind that you have plenty of company. In fact, estrogen, the name for the primary female hormone, comes from the Latinword oestrus, which means "frenzy" in English.
For those of you whose hormonal cycles drive you into a frenzy, I have good news: Alsomost every woman I know who has tried herbs and supportive nutrition gets some relief. And though natural remedies may involve some trial and error to discover which herbal formula works best for you, finding the right combination will help you move gracefully through most health problems specific to women, from monthly cycles to menopause. You must be patient, though...it may take a while before you begin to see real improvement.
Before plunging into an herbal healing program, you need to determine what is wrong. Your gynecologist or health care clinic can help you do this. You may even have a local clinic that specializes in female problems. If you discover that yours is a serious disorder, be sure to work on the treatment with a professional health care practitioner. Female hormones are indispensable... they help maintain physical and emotional well-being, as well as physical endurance and sex drive. If you alter their delicate balance, your body will let you know in a variety of ways. At times, hormonal problems can seem very complicated, since an increase in production of one hormone can lead to a decrease in others. This can place you on a hormonal seesaw! To make it even more puzzling, your hormone levels fluctuate throughout the month and even throughout the day.
Fortunately, herbs can help still the seesaw. While herbs do not contain the hormones found in our bodies, some of them do contain substances that influence our hormonal activity. How they do this is not completely understood...in fact, there is much that medical science still has to learn about hormones...but we do know that herbs sometimes mimic, activate or block natural hormonal activity. And some herbs make your body more or less sensitive to its own hormones.
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Over the years, conflicting information has been written about the risks of caffeine. Studies have shown that drinking coffee has been tied to pancreatic cancer...high chloesterol...heart attacks...and birth defect.
Reality: The results of these studies have been called into question by health experts. That's because people who drink a lot of coffee tend to have other bad habits as well, such as smoking or not exercising---which may be the culprits.
Caffeine and Osteoporosis
While caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and some medications can cause jitteriness trembling, irritability and insomnia, studies have not substantiated most of the claims about caffeine's negative long-term effects.
Exception: There appears to be a connection between consuming high levels of caffeine and osteoporosis---the thinning of bones that can lead to hip fractures, especially in older women. Risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, thin, white-- particularly of Northern European ancestry---or Asian...not exercising...smoking...and having a family history of the disease.
Self-Defense: If you are at high risk for developing osteoporosis, you should significantly reduce your caffeine intake and be sure to include enough calcium in your diet. In one study, women who drank at least one glass of milk per day were protected from the bone-thinning consequences of caffeine.
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