But sadly, as we age, it may feel like our bodies are playing catch up.
The choices you made in the past, along with the choices you make today, can have a profound effect on your health. Add in a dose of heredity, and you may find yourself on the fast track to less-than-ideal health.
But don’t worry. You have plenty of options to avoid and improve these health concerns. Here are five common health issues women over the age of 35 should keep in mind. With a little knowledge and ways to address them, you will be well on your way to cruising through your midlife as the best version of yourself.
Oh, the Joys of Aging
We’ve all heard the term midlife crisis. And when you think of someone being middle-aged, you probably don’t give it a second thought. That is until, before you know it, you’re heading in that direction.
Out of nowhere, your eyesight declines, you’re gaining weight, you’re anxious, exhausted, and the list goes on.
Aging can be smooth sailing for some and quite a challenge for others — bringing along with it some not-so-wonderful health challenges. Fortunately, with a little help and insight, you can move forward healthy, happy, and ready for what life throws at you.
5 Health Concerns That Can Sneak Up On You
The following health issues sometimes come part and parcel with middle age for women. If you experience any of them currently, incorporating these suggestions may be a great help.
Anxiety and Depression
Many things can elicit anxiety in women over 35. A demanding job, declining estrogen levels, financial problems, fluctuating hormones, or health concerns can all bring on anxiety and panic attacks. There is no specific trigger for mid-life anxiety.
Often, anxiety is linked closely with depression. The same life pressures and responsibilities that trigger anxious feelings can also make you feel sad. However, clinical depression is a mood disorder that sometimes doesn’t go away on its own. Many people with depression need help from a professional to feel better, and there is nothing wrong with that.
No matter the cause, anxiety and depression can interfere with your daily life, making it more difficult to carry out your daily tasks. Sometimes they can interfere with your life so much it can wear you down, making you tired and irritable. (1)
The signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression can include difficulty concentrating, excess worry, fatigue, hopelessness, irritability, lack of interest in normally fun activities, and sleep difficulties. Symptoms of both these conditions also manifest physically.
If you notice new or severe aches and pains; gastrointestinal problems; hyperventilating; rapid heart beat; persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; or thoughts of death or suicide, please consider contacting a mental health professional.
What Can I Do About It?
Rest assured that while this list may seem a little overwhelming, there are options to reduce the amount of stress, anxiety, and depression you may be experiencing.
Get creative —People tend to be more anxious and depressed when they don’t have a creative outlet. Channeling your energy into some things you enjoy can help reduce depressive episodes. Consider taking up a new hobby or craft project. Engaging in something fun can ease depression. (2)
Meditation — During meditation, you focus on your breath and the present moment. Meditation can lower anxiety, blood pressure, and depression. Your phone has plenty of free meditation apps to help you learn how and get started. (3, 4, 5)
Mindfulness —People often experience anxiety and depression when they are either focusing on future fears or past hurts. To practice mindfulness is to be fully present in the moment. Try it out by being completely present in each activity throughout the day, focusing on all of your senses at that moment. (6)
Professional help — If your anxiety levels prove too much for you to handle, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. A good therapist can give you more ideas on how to cope with anxiety. Anxiety is a treatable condition, and therapy can help you regain control over your life and find peace. (7)
Self-help — A great way to reduce your anxiety is to reduce the stressors in your life. Life can be overwhelming at times, and you may not think you have any time for yourself. But if you consider carving out some time each day for self-care, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much more you’ll be able to accomplish. (8)
Yoga —Another natural way to address depression is yoga. Yoga can calm the nervous system and muscles. Relaxing the body and anxious mind through yoga can help reduce the symptoms of depression. (9)
If you are pressed for time, even taking a few minutes to destress can make a big difference in how you feel. The following suggestions may go a long way in helping you manage your anxiety and depression better: (10)
A short walk in nature
Silencing electronics for a short period
Visualization of peaceful scenarios
A woman’s sexual drive can fluctuate over the years, whether from major life changes, hormone fluctuations, everyday stress, or even from parasites. If you are bothered by low sex drive, there are some ways to help before needing to visit a healthcare provider.
The first thing you need to remember is that it isn’t your fault, so don’t beat yourself up about it. The second is to know the common causes, which are: (11)
According to the American Heart Association, about 85.7 million Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. About half of Americans with high blood pressure are women. (13)
More men than women have hypertension until women reach menopause, when their risk becomes greater than men's. It can also lead to increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, or stroke.
What Can I Do About It?
Dietary and lifestyle changes may help you control high blood pressure. If you have mild hypertension, you may be able to lower your blood pressure by reducing the amount of salt in your diet. It is also helpful to reduce fat intake; eat fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy; and reduce alcohol consumption.
If you are overweight, losing weight may reduce your blood pressure. Increasing your physical activity, even if you don't lose weight, can also reduce blood pressure.
For some people, lifestyle changes aren't enough. Looking for underlying sources of high blood pressure can also be helpful to avoid just treating symptoms. Inflammation has a clear link to high blood pressure and can work to both trigger and aggravate hypertension. (14, 15)
Parasites and toxins are sneaky sources of inflammation in the body. Being overloaded with pathogens and toxins, like mold and glyphosate, can overwhelm the immune system and trigger excess inflammatory responses. (16, 17, 18)
Reducing toxin load in the body can in turn reduce inflammation, a major contributor to hypertension and cardiovascular risks.
Unfortunately, being female puts you at the risk of developing osteoporosis. People used to think that osteoporosis normally came with aging. Thankfully, with preventive care, you can choose good lifestyle habits to prevent bone loss. Here are the hard facts: (19)
Approximately one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoarthritis.
Estrogen drops sharply after menopause, which can cause bone loss.
Of the estimated 10 million Americans who have osteoporosis, around 8 million, or 80%, are women.
What Can I Do About It?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of osteoporosis now to help out your future self. Consider the following: (20, 21)
Get more exercise to support and increase bone density
Increase intake of calcium and vitamin D
Increase mineral intake for stronger, healthier bones
Quit smoking; smoking can rob the bones of minerals leading to bone loss
Perimenopause means “around menopause,” which is when the body prepares itself for menopause. Women begin menopause at different ages, although commonly in the 40s. Once you’ve reached one year without having a menstrual cycle, you’re considered to be in menopause.
Estrogen levels can vary greatly during perimenopause, causing a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include: (22)
Changing cholesterol levels. Declining estrogen levels may lead to changes in your blood cholesterol levels. This includes an increase in LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), which contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. At the same time, HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) decreases in many women as they age, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Changes in sexual function. During perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change. But if you had good sexual intimacy before menopause, it may continue through perimenopause and beyond.
Decreasing fertility. As ovulation becomes irregular, your ability to conceive decreases. However, as long as you have periods, pregnancy is still possible. If you wish to avoid pregnancy, use birth control until you've had no periods for 12 months.
Hot flashes and sleep problems. Hot flashes are common during perimenopause. The intensity, length, and frequency vary. Sleep problems are often due to hot flashes or night sweats, but sleep becomes unpredictable even without them.
Irregular periods. As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to heavy, and you may skip some periods.
Loss of bone. With declining estrogen levels, you lose bone more quickly than you replace it, increasing your risk of osteoporosis as already mentioned.
Mood changes. Mood swings may happen during perimenopause. The cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption associated with hot flashes. Mood changes may also be caused by factors not related to the hormonal changes of perimenopause.
Vaginal and bladder problems. When estrogen levels diminish, your vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low estrogen may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence.
Weight gain. Weight gain is common during perimenopause as estrogen levels decline. Be sure to eat only whole, healthy foods, avoid sugar and processed foods, and exercise regularly to avoid additional weight gain during this time.
What Can I Do About It?
Some herbal ingredients may lessen the symptoms of perimenopause: (23)
Black cohosh — Black cohosh is one of the most popular natural remedies women use for menopausal symptoms.
Ginseng — Although it’s not proven effective for hot flashes, ginseng may help improve sleep, which is especially important during perimenopause.
Soy — Eating more soy products may ease hot flashes and other perimenopausal symptoms. Soybeans, edamame, tofu, and soy milk are the most direct ways to incorporate more soy into your diet.
Vitamin D — Taking vitamin D may not help reduce hot flashes, but it can help strengthen bones and prevent bone loss as you age.
What Are Possible Underlying Causes of These 5 Issues?
As we get older, we may naturally develop more health problems. But another candle on the birthday cake isn't always to blame. Sneaky pathogens and an overload of toxins can also trigger many of these symptoms and health issues.
Three of the lesser-known causes of the discussed health problems can be heavy metals, mold, and parasites. Let’s look at each one and see how they can play a role in your health.
Heavy metals are all around you. Your vehicle is made with heavy metals. The buildings you work and live in contain some. The device you are reading this on has heavy metals in it. Air, food, soil, and water contain heavy metals.
When exactly do they become dangerous?
Most heavy metals are needed in tiny amounts for you to be healthy, like iron and zinc. You may more commonly know them as minerals, but they’re heavy metals. All heavy metals occur naturally in our environment in animals, plants, rocks, soil, and water as trace elements.
But dangerous heavy metals, like arsenic and lead, come from sources like fertilizers, fungicides, pollution, and unclean drinking water.
So what do heavy metals do to the body? They accumulate in the body and can damage you all the way to your DNA. They also generate oxidative stress, a key contributor to chronic conditions and inflammation. (24, 25)
Specifically, certain heavy metals can build up in the body and impact bone density. Cadmium in particular can lead to degenerative bone disease (26, 27)
And it's not just your bones that can suffer. Heavy metals like lead and mercury can invade the central nervous system and affect cognitive well-being. This can add to the risks of developing a mental illness, like anxiety and depression. (28)
Indoor mold can have profound effects on your body. A home filled with moisture, especially in the bathroom and basements, can cause many health issues from indoor mold and mycotoxins.
The symptoms of mold-induced toxicity are often vague — like fatigue,gut issues, memory problems, and muscle aches. So, it’s easy to attribute them to other causes. On top of that, you don’t always know when you’re exposed to toxic mold. Mold kits are available to test your home if you suspect it may contain mold.
Due to these factors, mold illness often goes unrecognized. But mold can be a barrier to overcoming complex, chronic health issues. It can especially impact inflammatory responses. Frequent contact with mold toxins can lead to chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). Inflammation triggers a variety of problems throughout the body, including #3 on the list above — high blood pressure. (29)
If mold is a culprit for you, it’s crucial to identify and address it. (30)
You may not know a whole lot about these harmful and largely unseen critters. But if you have a complex chronic illness or just want to be healthier overall, you may want to learn about these pathogens.
Despite mainstream attention on the subject, parasites are very common. You can pick them up from cleaning out a kitty's litter box, eating raw meat, and rolling around in the grass. (31, 32)
Sometimes your body naturally clears parasites out. But sadly, these critters are clever and go out of their way to stay in your body. They even can change the landscape of your internal systems to linger longer.
And the increasingly toxic environment — from pollution and other environmental toxicity — could worsen a parasite problem. Toxins can weaken your body’s defenses and alter parasite activity. (33)
Parasitic infections include a wide variety of symptoms. But particularly, they can interfere with cognitive health, sleep, and sex drive. They can also add to inflammation in the body. (34, 35, 36, 37)
A Healthy You at Any Point of Your Journey
Nearing a mid-point of your life, it's more important than ever to take a closer look at your health. You can take steps now preemptively to make a difference in the long run.
Although it’s never pleasant to encounter health issues as you age, there are some wonderful and effective natural options to reset your body. By incorporating healthy foods, clean water, positive movement — and supporting your body's natural detox processes — you can avoid the common pitfalls that occur as you reach middle age and beyond.
Detox is a trendy term, and “cleansing” regimens abound. But many of them go about it the wrong way. That could leave you feeling worse than when you started. An effective detox regimen starts with drainage. Learn more about the body's drainage funnel and how it impacts your health.
The lunar cycle has a unique link to nature, from animals to the ocean tide. But how does the lunar cycle influence human health and behavior? Learn how the lunar cycle affects hormones, the insidious connection to parasites, and ways to support your body during the next fullest phase of the moon.
Those musty smells in your basement could point to a hidden culprit behind your chronic health problems: mold poisoning. Its toxins can wreak havoc with your health and lead to a host of symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, and muscle aches. Learn more about mold toxicity and why mold illness often goes unrecognized.