Special Report

50 Health Tips Every Woman Should Know

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6. Never disregard stomach pain

Most of the time stomach pain is caused by indigestion, constipation, a virus, or gas. But stomach pain or discomfort can also be a sign of heart attack in women, according to the American Heart Association. If this is the case, however, the pain will often be intense and will be accompanied by other symptoms such as jaw pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or nausea. This is why stomach pain and other seemingly vague symptoms should never be ignored, even though most people do.

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7. Eat more healthy fats

Not all fats are bad for you. Monounsaturated fat is found in olive and canola oil and researchers consider it to be healthier. Polyunsaturated fats are essential to normal body functioning. It comes mainly in two forms: omega-3 and omega-6. The body doesn’t produce them so people have to get them from foods. Omega-3, found in fish, nuts, plant oils, and some fortified foods, is recommended for women who are pregnant because it is crucial to brain function development. There is evidence that higher levels of omega-6 promote weight fat.

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8. Check for breast and ovarian cancers

Check for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC). Women are urged to get a diagnosis for HBOC if there have been multiple cases of breast and ovarian cancer on one side of the family over several generations. In families with four or more cases of breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 60, the chance of HBOC is about 80%.

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9. Don’t forget strength training

Cardio exercise — whether it is using the treadmill or taking a dance class — helps shed the pounds, but strength training is important because this is how you build muscle. The body starts to lose muscle mass after the age of 30, and inactive people can lose up to 5% of muscle mass over 10 years. Any loss of muscle lessens one’s strength, which increases the risk of falls and fractures.

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10. If you want to get pregnant…

Women who want to get pregnant might find it helpful to track their menstrual cycle, which would give them an idea when they’re most fertile. In the average 28-day menstrual cycle, there are six days when a woman can get pregnant — the day one of her ovaries releases an egg, or ovulation, and the five days before. Because the length of the menstrual cycle can vary even from month to month, it’s helpful to track it over a period. Once an average is determined, subtract 18 days from the length of the shortest cycle, and that would be the first day you might be fertile. Then deduct the 11 days from the longest cycle, and that would be the last day you’re likely to still be fertile. Having sex between those dates improves chances of getting pregnant.