Women living in Victoria, Australia, are doing it tough this week and I’m thinking of all of you from this beautiful state who are here with me in the MyMT™ community. I met Anna when I last did my Masterclass on Menopause seminar in Melbourne and as she mentioned, “I’ve only just opened my swim centre business and finally getting back into a routine and now we’re back in lock-down.” That’s really tough and stressful. My heart goes out to her and others.
I’ve thought a lot about Covid-19 over the past couple of months. I’m sure you have as well. But my thinking has been a reflection of how first and foremost, it is indisputably a respiratory virus. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, dry cough and fever. In the susceptible and immune-compromised, it proceeds quickly into pneumonia-like symptoms. The worst patients need to be ventilated to help their breathing. Having been a former ICU nurse, I know how tough it is for patients to be ventilated or require help with breathing.
I think what has struck me the most with this crisis, is the wake-up call that this event has given about how we might be able to do better to look after our health. For women transitioning into and through menopause, then this includes improving how we look after our lung and respiratory health. I don’t just mean our breathing either. There are other things we can do as well, such as improving our posture, improving our cardiovascular health (heart and lung fitness) and improving our nutrition in specific ways that help our lung health. For those working in the front-line of health or aged care, or living in communities where Covid-19 cases continue, then please take time to have a read of this article I wrote for you whilst in my own lock-down here in New Zealand. Share it as well. The more mid-life women who know this, the better.
As we transition through menopause, we are ageing. When I began to understand that the physiological changes that occur throughout our body as part of our menopause transition, send us towards our biological ageing, then it was important to look at what happens to our lungs as we lose oestrogen. Because ageing produces changes in our lungs and airways and this starts in mid-life. Both the airways and blood vessels become stiffer and the air sacs lose their elasticity, making it more difficult for gases to move into the bloodstream. As such it is easier for us to accumulate inflammation in our tiny little airways that sit inside our lungs. These are known as the aveoli.
“Your lung function declines with age, like other parts of your body,” says Dr. Aaron Waxman, director of the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Your lungs finish development by age 25, and their function remains stable for about 10 years. After that, they begin to gradually decline. By age 65, you’ve typically lost up to a liter of lung capacity compared with when you were younger.”
Several lung diseases have been associated with oxidative stress. Yes, for many people this is linked to insults such as cigarette smoke, air pollutants and infections. Consequently, dietary factors and nutrients with a potential protective role in the oxidative process and inflammatory response have been researched. Nutrients that have an anti-inflammatory effect include fruits and vegetables, antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, vitamin A, fatty acids and some minerals such as sodium, magnesium and selenium. “Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies strongly suggest that long-term vitamin C intake is significantly associated with better lung function” says the Harvard report.
Having apples and pears matter for our lung health and function too. If you can have an apple a day, then this really might just keep the Doctor away too.
“Apple consumption was inversely related to the risk of asthma among English adults. Apples and pears have also been reported to be protective for asthma in young Australian adults. High flavonoid intake, such as quercetin, which is abundant in apples, has been related to lower risk of chronic diseases, including lung cancer. In a large study of 53, 000 French women, we recently reported that subjects with a high intake of leafy vegetables, carrots and tomatoes had a lower prevalence of asthma.” [Romieu, 2005].
Following the research helps us to take a calmer approach to keeping ourselves and our families well during the Covid-19 crisis. I wrote about the specific nutrients that we need to help our overall lung health in April, when I received a new report which was published by the American Nutrition Association [CLICK HERE] During our own lockdown experience here in New Zealand, hubbie and I ate either fresh or cooked tomatoes every day. They are full of lycopene, a known anti-inflammatory and blood-pressure normalising nutrient known to improve our cardiovascular health for both men and women as they get older. I talk a lot about tomatoes in my online coaching programmes and women love my Italian Tomato Sauce recipe which features in the MyMT™ Food Guide, which is available in all of the 12 week programmes, for women to include in their diet during menopause.
No matter where you live in the world, I hope that if you are heading to the grocery store this weekend, then you can fill your basket with beautiful health-enhancing nutrients from apples, pears and other vegies too. Your lungs will thank you.
I have kept all 3 programmes on sale as I know that many of you are still trying to cope with changes in your life from Covid-19, hence there is still NZ$50 OFF the cost. I so want to support you and realise that for many women there is now uncertainty about finances as well. This makes ANY of my 3 programmes:
NZ$249 (or 3 x monthly payments of $83 per month).
AUS$235 (or 3 x monthly payments of $80 per month)
UK£130 (or 3 x monthly payments of £44 per month)
CAN$222 (or 3 x monthly payments of $74 per month)
Please use the promo code ATHOME20 for any of Circuit Breaker (for thinner/ leaner women), Transform Me (for women needing weight loss) or for a little dose of at-home Exercise, then choose Rebuild My Fitness.
I hope you can join me. I have also added in my Restroration Series modules for you – ‘Restore your Joyful Joints’ and ‘Restore your Grateful Gut’ and there are other optional modules for those of you on HRT and Anti-depressants who want to understand the evidenced lifestyle-solutions that you need to know about when taking these medications.
Harvard Health Publishing (2018). Breathing life into your lungs. Online Version.
Romieu, I. (2005). Nutrition and Lung Health. Int. J. of Tuberc Lung Dis. 9(4), 362–374