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  • Oh nuts! All about this healthy food group

    by Margery Gass | Apr 10, 2014

    A handful of nuts is a convenient snack -- here’s how to make the best of it by choosing the best types of nuts and the healthiest ways to eat them!

    Just the Facts
    Most varieties of nuts are high in unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and L-arginine. They’re also high in fat and calories (lowest in calories are almonds, cashews, pistachios, while highest in calories are macademia nuts and pecans). Almonds are the nuts highest in calcium.

    For Heart Health
    Studies including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30% to 50% lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, and cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times per week. 

    The best nuts for your heart are walnuts. They contain high amounts of alpha linoleic acid, which has been found to be as effective as olive oil in reducing inflammation and oxidation after a fatty meal, per a 2006 Spanish study. Eating nuts has also been shown to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level in the blood and improve the health of the lining of your arteries.

    Snacking Ideas
    Eat them raw or dry, not packaged or roasted in oil (nutrients can be destroyed by high roasting temperatures and oil used may be the unhealthy hydrogenated variety or high in omega-6 unhealthy fats.

    Because of their high calorie content, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats such as those in meats, eggs, and dairy. A serving is a small handful or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. And remember, you’ll cancel out the benefit of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar, or salt. Try snacking on them instead of chips -- or throw them on a salad for a little crunchiness.

    The Peanut Addendum
    Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts. But they are healthy in their own right -- high in folate, which is essential for brain development and may protect against cognitive decline.

     

    So don’t forget to make this healthy food group part of your diet. That’d be nuts.

    1 Comment
  • Should I be worried about osteoporosis after menopause?

    by Margery Gass | Mar 12, 2014
    Osteoporosis is a loss of bone strength that makes you vulnerable to broken bones. Although women start losing bone in their 30s, the process speeds up after menopause. Osteoporosis is called “silent,” that is, you may not know you have it until you have a broken bone. Testing for osteoporosis with a bone mineral density test is usually recommended for women at age 65. If you are younger than 65 and have what’s called a “fragility fracture,” that is, a bone break typical of weakened bones (often in the wrist), that indicates you have osteoporosis. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of osteoporosis and what you can do to help keep your bones strong, especially with good nutrition and exercise.
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  • Good news for women who hate mammograms

    by Margery Gass | Feb 16, 2014

    Strong evidence suggests women may not need mammograms if they receive a thorough clinical breast examination every year. A large and long study in The British Medical Journal published Tuesday is one of the few randomized, controlled evaluations of mammography in recent history. It examined Canadian women assigned to have regular mammograms plus breast exams or to have breast exams alone. Researchers found that death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in both groups. It is definitely time to re-evaluate guidelines by looking at the screening issue from all angles. The more information the better.


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  • Let’s stop sitting and start moving

    by Margery Gass | Jan 31, 2014

    Women who spend less time sitting live a longer, healthier life. And it seems to make an especially big difference for non-Hispanic women of color. This message comes from a new study based on 92,234 women followed for 12 years in the Women’s Health Initiative. Women who sat the least—4 hours a day or less—were about 20% less likely to die for any reason, 38% less likely to die of heart disease, and 42% less likely to die of cancer than women who sat the most—11 hours a day or more. The difference for black women was much bigger, with the most active 37% less likely to die of any cause, and the difference for Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders was even bigger—45% less likely. In terms of cancer, greater activity made a bigger difference for women under 70, who were one-third less likely to die of cancer than the very inactive women.

    So, the numbers all add up—moving every day as much as you can is critical, probably more so than a fitness routine after a long day sitting at your desk. And if you have a desk job? Stick to your fitness routine, but take frequent little breaks just to get up and move around the office.

     

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  • Another apple a day could keep the statins away

    by Margery Gass | Jan 15, 2014

    If everyone ate an extra apple a day, we might save as many lives as statin drugs save for everyone over age 50, say British researchers. No, it doesn’t mean that if you take a statin you should toss out your pills and eat more apples instead. But it does show that even simple changes in diet could do wonders before you have to use costly drugs. The researchers at Oxford University used a mathematical model to show that this simple step toward getting your recommended five fruits and vegetables a day could prevent or delay some 8,500 heart attacks and strokes every year in Britain.

    At a time when achieving new heart disease guidelines might mean having nearly a third of all adults take statins, it’s good to remember we could do as much by changing our diets—and by remembering your mother was right when she said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Thanks, Mom.

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  • HPV and menopause: what women of the sexual revolution need to know

    by Margery Gass | Jan 02, 2014

    This week we wrote about what women of the sexual revolution should know about menopause and HPV reactivation for More.com. Here's an excerpt:

     "HPV peaks in young women around age of sexual debut and declines in the late 20s and 30s. But women’s risk for HPV is not over yet: There is sometimes a second peak around the age of menopause. Why?

    A study released early in 2013 of women 35 to 60 years old found that HPV in women at or after menopause may represent an infection acquired years ago. Think of it like chickenpox—that virus can lie dormant in the bodies of people who were infected as children, then come raging back as shingles later in life when the immune system weakens. It’s the same with HPV. The reactivation risk may increase around age 50." 

    Read the entire article here.
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  • For now, let the buyer beware of supplements

    by Margery Gass | Dec 18, 2013
    Three new studies of dietary supplements with dismal results were released this week (Annals of Internal Medicine). The problem is very basic — most supplements on the market have not been tested for safety and have not even been tested to see if they actually work. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 50,000 adverse reactions to dietary supplements every year. Supplement sales in the U.S. reached $28 billion in 2010. That is a lot of money to give away for no benefit and possible harm.

    On the positive side, a few manufacturers do provide a written guarantee that the product is made under the FDA’s “good manufacturing practice” conditions and a Certificate of Analysis assuring that what is written on the label is what is in the bottle. That’s good, but it’s not common enough. If you are taking supplements, look for “USP Verified” on the label -- it means the supplement has been inspected and approved under the United States Pharmacopeia Convention. Unfortunately, less than 1% of the 55,000 products on the market have this label. 

    “The real answer is that, until the day comes when medical studies prove that these supplements have legitimate benefits, and until the FDA has the political backing and resources to regulate them like drugs, individuals should simply steer clear,” write Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Sarah Erush of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in an op-ed in the New York Times this week.
    Go comment!
  • Video from our 2013 meeting: Physical therapy for painful sex

    by Margery Gass | Nov 19, 2013
    Over the next weeks, we’ll be sharing highlights from our October meeting in Dallas, Texas. First up, physical therapist Hollis Herman gets frank and funny on the topic of sex after menopause and pelvic floor problems in women. 

    She explains comfortable positions for those with hip problems and pelvic pain, what you need to know about lubricants and dilators, and the location of the g-spot. You’ll learn fun facts (did she say boomerang?) and vital information about sexuality and aging. Frankly, it’s a must-see.

    Watch it here

    Go comment!

MenoPause: the blog!

Posts to our Blog are written by NAMS staff members and Dr. Margery Gass. All posts are reviewed and edited by Dr. Gass. We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP
NAMS Executive Director

An internationally recognized leader in the field of menopause, Dr. Gass became Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society in 2010. Dr. Gass has been an investigator on numerous research projects, including serving as a principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative, and has published and presented on a wide range of topics related to menopause, including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and hormone therapy.

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