We work hard to look and feel younger. We buy face creams, color our hair, scour the sales for fashionable clothes, and even consider plastic surgery. But, do we spend enough time on our health?
Actually, taking care of our health may be more important than anything else we do to feel and look youthful.
Each day counts — so there’s really no time like now.
“I believe that as we age, controlling our weight is one of the most important things we can do to stay healthy,” said Gigi Maminta-Streiff, MD, OB/GYN. “It all comes down to calories. You really must do both — watch food intake and burn calories with exercise.”
“When I’m busy, or delivering a baby in the middle of the night, it’s hard to be motivated to exercise, so I do understand when my patients say they are busy. But we all need a good daily exercise regimen,” said Dr. Maminta-Streiff, 52, who is married with two sons. “In my first pregnancy, when I was a resident, I did not exercise much. By the end of my pregnancy, I’d gained 60 pounds! I learned my lesson from that!”
“I recommend at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to women of all ages,” said Dr. Maminta-Streiff. She personally loves yoga. “It’s spiritual and makes you feel good.”
Losing weight can have significant benefits. “The risks associated with having surgery, for example, are much higher for someone who is overweight,” she explained. She also said similar risks apply to women who want to have a baby.
One of Dr. Maminta-Streiff’s patients, Annette Hoppe, lost more than 20 pounds before having surgery.
Hoppe said, “Dr. Maminta-Streiff was recommending the surgery be performed using the da Vinci® robotic system, a relatively new procedure. Although I trusted her, I was still a bit apprehensive.”
“I wanted to do everything I possibly could to make the surgery go well and I worked hard to lose weight. I knew I needed to reduce my risk and I knew that the less heavy you are the better.”
Hoppe, age 51, managed to drop her weight below 200 over three months. Her success came in portion control, and eating fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and working out more frequently at the gym.
“I’ve had other surgeries in the past and the recovery time wasn’t as easy as this,” she said. “I’m feeling so good.”
To help with losing weight, Dr. Maminta-Streiff recommends one seek nutritional guidance and see their primary care physician.
Medical research has shown that health problems, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease can be improved with diet. Dr. Maminta-Streiff, who grew up in St. Louis, believes in eating good quality, nutritious food to enhance health. “Since my family is Filipino, I grew up eating lots of vegetables and seafood — and, I’ve developed a taste for brown rice,” she said. Brown rice has substantially more nutrients and more than three times the amount of fiber than white rice.
As the eldest of seven children, she said, “We also grew up drinking lots of water since having soda wasn’t affordable for us.” Sugared drinks pack extra calories, whereas water is healthful and has no calories.
SCREENINGS AND IMMUNIZATIATIONS .
Screenings and immunizations are also important to good health. Although a government task force recently revised mammogram screening guidelines,
Dr. Maminta-Streiff strongly believes in a yearly mammogram for women age 40 and beyond.
“It is a very personal issue to me because my sister, who is in her 40s, was diagnosed in 2008 with breast cancer through a mammogram,” she said.
“And, the new guidelines on pap tests released in 2009, state that if a woman has had an abnormal pap, she needs a yearly pap forever,” said Dr. Maminta- Streiff. “I recommend that women, who are single, dating and sexually active, get the Guardasil® vaccine.” The vaccine protects against four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which are known to cause cervical cancer.
Guardasil, which has been highly promoted for young females, is generally covered by insurance for those ages nine to 26. Although insurance does not cover it, the vaccine has been approved for boys and is of benefit for older women, too, according to Dr. Maminta-Streiff.
“Hormone Replacement Therapy is a very individual subject,” she said. “It should be discussed with your OB/ GYN, who can determine if it’s appropriate for you. It is not recommended for those at higher risk of cancers.”
“I believe short-term therapy is the best. My feeling is that it can be beneficial for hot flashes and memory loss. It can help patients sleep better and be less fuzzy the next day. I’ve had the sleep issue myself and was on short-term therapy,” she said. “A low dose estrogen also can help women who have vaginal dryness.”
Dr. Maminta-Streiff believes almost all women should take vitamin D and calcium supplements since bone density declines after age 30. “Know your family history and your risk for osteoporosis,” she said.
In addition to the physical aspects of aging, Dr. Maminta-Streiff, who has been in practice for 20 years, said relaxation is “good for one’s mental state.” For her, yoga and an occasional massage helps.
Gigi Maminta-Streiff, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and is on staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. She earned her medical degree from Cebu Doctors College of Medicine in the Philippines, and completed her internship at Deaconess Hospital and residency at St. Louis University Hospital.