Top Tips for Women’s Health

by Gena on March 15, 2010

whole-lady

Hi all!

Happy Monday. Hope the week is off to a good start.

I’m excited for this blog entry! For my final post for women’s week, I want to share with you a roundup of my favorite tips for women’s health. I’ve divided them into three groups (nutritional, sexual, and mind/body/soul). I hope you find them all useful, and some (perhaps) pleasantly surprising!

Five Tips for Dietary Health

1) Alkalize.

Remember high school chem, when you learned about the PH scale? Our bodies also exist in a balance between acidity and alkalinity. High acidity in the body has been linked to fatiguebione loss, and a host of other symptoms that we’d all rather avoid.

What acidifies our bodies? Alcohol, drugs, nicotine, and caffeine are big culprits. We also create lactic acid when we digest meat, dairy, and very high-protein foods. These foods, also known as high-PRAL foods, acidify our blood. The human body doesn’t like to be in an acidic state, and it works overtime to compensate. Our lungs, kidneys, and other organs try to “neutralize” acidity by a process called buffering; this means linking the acid to a “base” mineral. These include sodium, potassium, and calcium. There’s now substantial research to prove that high-PRAL foods (which are typically also high-protein foods) contribute directly to calcium loss and over-taxation of the kidneys. Why? Because our body is trying to neutralize blood acid by leaching calcium from bones and into the bloodstream.

salad The good news is that alkaline foods immediately help to stabilize and alkalize our bodies. What are alkaline foods? Well, they include vegetables, sprouts, low-sugar fruits, legumes, and certain grains (spelt, quinoa, and millet in particular). In other words, the foods that are a cornerstone of a plant-based diet! Which is all the more reason you should be eating as many veggies as possible. Dig in!

2) Eat for Your Bones

It’s no great secret that women are prone to bone density loss as we age. To prevent this, it’s important to eat as alkaline a diet as possible: again, eating too much animal protein, which is acidic, forces our bodies to deplete calcium reserves as a buffer. Ever wonder why countries with highest osteoperosis rates, ours included, are typically the countries with highest dairy consumption? This is why.

In addition, it’s important to eat calcium rich foods. Wondering about the best plant-based sources? Sesame seeds, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, blackstrap molasses, kale, and tofu are all stellar. Most non-dairy milks and soy products are also fortified with calcium, as are many commercial vegan cereals.

If you have any reason to believe that you’re not getting adequate calcium from your diet, go ahead and seek out a good vegan supplement with Vitamin D3. Right now, I’m a big fan of Vitamin Code’s Raw Calcium.

3) Pump up the Iron

We ladies, I’m sorry to say, are also rather prone to anemia. It’s very common for young women to be anemic–symptoms include sensitivity to cold, brittle nails, fatigue, thinning hair, headaches, and depression. To prevent this, it’s crucial for us to eat enough iron.

Fortunately, a plant based diet is full of iron-rich foods! Black strap molasses is a terrific source: one tablespoon daily (try stirring it into raw or cooked oats) brings you halfway to your USDA requirement. Other sources include leafy greens – chard, kale, spinach — as well as edamame, lentils, spinach, tofu, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and navy beans. Cooking with a cast iron pan imparts some iron, too.

4) Stop Fearing Fats

Women–especially women with histories of chronic dieting–tend to be pretty fat-phobic. Don’t be, ladies! I’ve written ad infinitum on the benefits of healthy fats, but just to remind you: healthy fats help our nerves, eyes, and immune systems. Our brain is composed of 60% fats, and our hearts are regulated by them. They’re known to help prevent cholesterol, and they’re especially important for fertility and fetal brain development.

The bottom line? Eat up! Be mindful of eating a sufficient amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in chia seeds, walnut, flax, and pumpkin seeds, and monounsaturated fats, found in almonds, coconut, olives, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados.

5) Ditch the Fad Detoxes

I cannot tell you how frequently I’m asked about “doing a detox.” Should I do a cleanse? Should I do a fast? Should I drink lemonade and lemon juice for sixteen days? Should I eat nothing but green smoothies for a week?

In a word: no. There is no reason for a healthy, average woman to drastically lower her caloric consumption with “cleanses”. In fact, there’s a good chance that whatever cleanse you’re interested in–juices, lemonade, all raw veggies, smoothies only, and the list goes on–will only leave you feeling deprived, strip you of water weight, and lower your metabolism. Even undertaking a radically low-cal diet is likely to lower your metabolism drastically, so that when you do return to normative habits (as you eventually will have to, because you’re human), you’ll be likely to gain weight quickly, and in the form of fat.

If you need to lose a few pounds, or you aren’t feeling your best and want to tune up, simply commit to a few small changes (less processed food, no diet sodas, no sugary desserts) that will help boost energy and let you shed fluff weight. That’s a few, not all: getting healthy doesn’t mean trying to be perfect. It means doing what’s optimal as often as is reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for yo-yo diets that can permanently destroy your metabolic function and digestion: opt instead for small, sustainable changes that will boost health for good.

Five Tips for Sexual Health

1) Be Proactive About Birth Control

Deciding whether or not to go on the pill is deeply personal, and it should be based upon lifestyle, on your dialog with your sexual partner, and on your own comfort level. The pill is a major source of security and freedom for many women, but many others experience negative side effects. Therefore, be proactive: there are proactive ways to prevent pregnancy without BCP (such as copper IUDs), and we have the power to explore them.

2) If You Are on the Pill…

Remember: birth control pills do NOT prevent STDs. Many of my readers grew up in the era of AIDS awareness. That’s terrific, but statistics show that condom use and preventative measures against STDs are dropping among white heterosexuals. HIV rates have dropped marginally, but not nearly enough to justify careless behavior. (No drop, save the eradication of all STDs, would justify carelessness.)

Ladies, if you are taking the pill, remember that it’s no barrier against STDs. Herpes rates are on the rise (some statistics suggest that one in every two single heterosexuals in New York City has the herpes virus), and chlymidia and HPV are as common as ever. If you’re feeling tempted to skip the rubber, or if your partner assumes that your being on the pill is a green light for riding bareback, stop dead in your tracks, and reach for the bedside drawer.

sex 3) Remember Your Pap

Be sure to get a pap smear regularly. I previously thought it was necessary annually, but a few readers have mentioned that the new ones are good for 2-3 years at a time (ask your ob-gyn). These exams scan for any reproductive abnormalities, STDs, and cervical cell changes associated with HPV.

4) Get the HPV Vaccine

People in the raw and vegan communities have mixed feelings about vaccines. I fall on the pro side of the fence, though I do think it is every parent’s right to select which vaccines are administered to their children, and at what age.

Adult women, naturally, can also make up their own minds about the HPV vaccine. But it seems awfully foolhardy to forgo vaccination against a form of cancer (cervical cancer) that is essentially preventable–especially since so few forms are. And we’ll be protecting our future sexual partners in the meantime.

5) Get to Know Your Body

Do I sound like I’m hailing from the pages of Our Bodies, Ourselves? Maybe I do, but even so, this message bears repeating: a conscious sex life is a rewarding sex life. Even in this day and age, young women are afraid to explore their own bodies, and to share what they learn with partners. Don’t be! Get to know your bod: if that means the old self-examination with a mirror at home, go for it. If it means getting cozy with some erotic literature or visuals, go for it. If it means picking up a sex guide, like The Guide to Getting it On (a classic), do it. Do anything that puts you in touch with what you like, and what you don’t; what feels good, and what doesn’t. And when you figure it out, speak up! Your partner will appreciate a knowledgeable and proactive approach, and you’ll be grateful for it when he (or she) responds accordingly.

 

Five Tips for Mind, Body, and Soul

1) Move

It’s nothing you’ve never heard before, but gentle exercise–I’m talking 35 minutes at least three times weekly–is your friend. No, this doesn’t have to mean marathon training or torture sessions at the gym. It can mean brisk walking, yoga, zumba, pilates, rebounding, or simply dancing around your apartment to the newest Gaga single. Exercise will boost your mood, strengthen your heart, strengthen your bones, and keep energy levels high. What’s not to like?

fitness 2) …But Not Because You Like to Eat

One of the most troubling habits I see among clients is the use of exercise as a means of feeling “safe” about food–to burn calories, feel less “lazy,” or ensure they won’t gain weight from eating.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about embracing our appetites. This means embracing the fact that we hunger simply because we must: hunger is part of being alive. Exercise is a beautiful thing, but it should be separate from hunger, and eating is not optional.

So move, ladies. But don’t move because you ate. Move because it makes you feel energetic, happy, or strong–not because you had a piece of cake. The more you do to dissociate fitness from food, the more you’ll be able to appreciate them both.

3) Remember Self Care

We ladies are often caretakers: we care for children, for parents, for each other. But in so doing, we also forget to take time to care for ourselves. No matter how cliched it may sound, it’s true that we cannot love or value for others until we love and value ourselves.

Carve out time for solitary walks, little beauty treatments, reading, music, catching up with friends, and other forms of self-focused activity. Be gentle and indulgent: if this means canceling a commitment once in a while, or saying no to someone, or taking break from work, do. Preserving your own sanity–which such habits help you to do–means more energy and focus when you do re-emerge to care for the people you love.

4) Don’t Feel Responsible for Other People’s Comfort

I’ve spoken before about a woman’s tendency to eat in such a way that pleases other people. Often, this is because we sense that our good food habits make other people feel insecure or ashamed, and we compensate with self-sabotage. Is there anything more backwards than this–treating our bodies poorly to make our friends or family members feel better about themselves? I don’t think so.

family The habit extends beyond food: so often, we bite our tongues, soften our opinions, or shy away from conflict because we know that it will make other people more comfortable. Guess what, girls? Other people are responsible for their own happiness, security, and comfort. Be kind and generous to others, certainly, but don’t take blame for other people’s unhappiness unless you caused it through malice or poor behavior. You’ve got your own happiness to worry about: allaying other people’s private and often self-imposed unhappiness is not your job.

5) Embrace Independence

One of the more troubling tendencies I see in young women today is a feeling of discomfort with solitude–both physical (in that they fear having time alone on their hands) and existential (in that they fear a lack of male companionship). It’s normal, of course, to experience loneliness now and then, or to want to find partnership in life. But to fear one’s own company is, I think, a shame. Life is lived in the company of loved ones, but there’s also truth to the dictum that we live and die alone. At the least, the capacity to support oneself financially, to make one’s way through the world independently, and to amuse oneself in quiet moments, is crucial.

Sharing your life with wonderful people is vital. But it’s also vital to enjoy your own company. So the next time you find yourself striving to make yourself more appealing to others, stop for a moment, and think: how can I be more appealing to myself? Take some time to cultivate a sense of personhood that you enjoy and take pride in, and the pleasures of autonomy will follow.

On that note, friends, women’s week draws to a close. Of course, we’re always celebrating women here on Choosing Raw, so don’t let’s stop considering all of these important issues.

And guys, don’t think we haven’t been celebrating you in our hearts all week, too.

Next up: recipe making returns to Choosing Raw! And before I go, some announcements:

Maggie and her friend Kate have launched a new blog to celebrate food and body love. It touches on many of the themes I’ve been exploring this week, and is a worthy venture. Please check it out!

Susan is giving away a dehydrator.

My dear friend Kris Carr is nominated for Treehugger.com’s Best of Green award. Please show her your support!!

March is endometriosis awareness month (speaking of sexual health). Check out Allison’s blog for more!

 

Have a great night.

xo

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura March 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Really? First comment?! ;) I love The Guide to Getting it On! A professor I TAed for used it as her textbook for Human Sexuality class last summer- how awesome is that?! I no longer use exercise to compensate for poor diet, but sometimes when my diet is going downhill, I make myself exercise- because it usually regulates my appetite and mood, resulting in better choices the next day! I love your summary of dietary info- sums up the most important mistakes and myths. By the way, the newest version of the PAP test is considered valid for two years.

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Gena March 16, 2010 at 4:49 am

Thanks about the PAP info! I edited to reflect it =)

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HowardB March 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Gena,

Great post! Who won the Wheatgrass Juicer?

Thanks, Howard

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caronae March 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Beautiful, informative post Gena! I especially like the third section; I’ve really struggled with numbers 2, 3, and 4, but I’m working on it, and feeling much better as a result.

Oh, and just to let you know, from a medical standpoint, pap smear guidelines have changed. I don’t know exactly how; I’ll ask my mom (she’s a Primary Care physician) and get back to you, but I believe the recommendation is no longer yearly, and not until after you’re 21, oddly enough (regardless of whether or not you are sexually active). There has been a lot of debate bout this in the medical community lately and basically, different medical bodies and schools have only been able to conclude that they don’t know when and how often pap smears are necessary.

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hihorosie March 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm

My gyn told me it’s done every 3 years now, granted the result was normal to begin with. I’d be curious what your mom’s thoughts are on this.

Great post Gena! I’m currently working on the self care. Now that I have a baby I totally understand how important this step is. Thanks for all your well-put thoughts.

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Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather March 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I love all your tips, especially about alkalizing foods and our bodies. I’ve been quite interested in that topic lately.

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michelle March 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

bleh i am never taking bc again, it does so much more harm than people are aware of

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elizabeth March 15, 2010 at 11:18 pm

I haven’t had time to comment much recently, but I did want to say bravo for making your vaccine stance public. I made the decision to vaccinate my child according to the schedule, and as an unschooler and raw foodist, that decision puts me at odds with a majority of mothers in both communities. There’s a lot of compelling information on both sides, and I guess I’m persuaded by the herd immunity theory (that you’re better off being unvaccinated in a vaccinated herd than vaccinated in an unvaccinated herd – because a lot of vaccines don’t take – you could be unvaccinated and not even know it). So rare for me to be on the mainstream side of the fence, but that’s one issue where the science has convinced me … for better or worse.

My intuition is always the ultimate arbiter … when travelling to Brazil, I’ve calculated that the risk of illness from the recommended vaccines is greater than any I’d incur travelling, given the sorts of hotels I stay at, the restaurants I frequent, etc., so I don’t do the shots.

On the birth control question – I think as women we can absolutely master knowledge of our cycles, we can know precisely when we are ovulating, when we are fertile, etc. It is also possible to synchronize our cycles with the moon so we are always ovulating in the light of the full moon and menstruating in the darkness of the new moon. I also think there are herbal equivalents to the morning after pill that were part of the body of herbal wisdom passed from woman to woman for many centuries … with the loss of this knowledge, we have lost a certain amount of power … science may have given it back with the pill, but there are, as you’ve noted, attendant risks.

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Danielle (Coffee Run) March 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Loved these tips :D
1. I’m studying to be an RD and it annoys me to DEATH that we still have dairy on the food pyramid. Seriously- grains, fruits, veggies, protein, fats, and…dairy?!
2. Healthy fat does not make you fat! I have this theory about our bodies adapting to incoming fats and therefore starting to let them go rather than store the extra
3. I love that you mentioned that there should be a slight disconnect between exercise and food. I run because I love it :)

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The Voracious Vegan March 16, 2010 at 12:26 am

Gena, you are amazing. Seriously, fantastically AMAZING. I am so proud to call you my friend and an inspiration.

I LOVE this post, so many great tips and so much wonderful advice. I’m so glad you called out dairy! It is a pet peeve (animal companion peeve??? ;-)) of mine that people think dairy is a good source of calcium.

And HOORAY for healthy fats! They are a huge part of my diet. I always feel the best, the most energetic, the most balanced, etc, when I make sure to include a lot of healthy fats in my diet. Bring on the avocados!!!

Eating has NOTHING to do with my excercise and fitness. There are days when I gorge myself silly and cuddle up blissfully on the couch without moving a muscle, and I don’t feel at all guilty or like I need to burn off those calories. I ONLY excercise because I love the feeling of power and strength I get from it. I love to feel touch and strong! So, I excercize when and how I want, sometimes that means riding my bike for hours, other times it is lifting weights at the gym, and other times it means taking my dingos for a nice long ramble.

Oh, gotta mention I love the sexy time advice. HELL YES!

Gena, this is without a doubt one of the best posts I’ve ever read. THANK YOU!

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maren March 16, 2010 at 1:27 am

Gena,

I love this post it combines so many different issues that I am able to identify with so many parts of it! And thank you for sharing Kate and Maggie’s new blog with us. It is bold, current and i know that it will provide a lot of inspiration to women regardless of their dietary preferences or personality. Myself included! Love it! your the bestest

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is March 16, 2010 at 3:43 am

These are awesome tips. Gena!!

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Michal March 16, 2010 at 3:54 am

What an excellent post Gena, you could not be more right in every point that you make here. I love how you are so empowering and inspiring! :)

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Sarah @ THE FOODIE DIARIES March 16, 2010 at 4:29 am

i love that you spoke on not catering to making other people comfortable with your lifestyle choices. and on self-sabotage. thats such a prevalent issue that no one really addresses. we eat and live for our own health and well-being–and it’s important to remind ourselves of that.

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Erica March 16, 2010 at 5:20 am

What a great post- fabulous tips! Always good to have reminders about things we can do day to day to make ourselves healthier=iron, calcium, exercise! Hope you have a great week girl!

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg March 16, 2010 at 5:34 am

Wow– what an awesome post! I was just reading about the first three tips for dietary health in Body for a New America last night…I had no idea that our body leeched calcium from our bones in order to make up for highly acidic foods! Pretty interesting (and often scary) stuff!

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Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen March 16, 2010 at 5:48 am

Great tips! I am always telling people to stop buying a detox in a baox- it just doesn’t work that way. Love the whole thing about not worrying about everyone else too. I am guilty of that- thinking that as long as everyone around me is okay, it’s okay for me not to be.

Lastly- have a peak at my posts on the pill: “The Pill, Sex, Drugs and Mood Swings- it’s a three parter. http://meghantelpnerblog.com/2009/11/16/sex-and-drugs-the-pill-part-1/

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Gelareh March 16, 2010 at 5:52 am

Great tips! I didn’t know the new paps are good for two years! In the past 3 months I have had couple of friends who have had bad paps, therefore a biopsy and are now scheduled for a hysterectomy. In both cases they had questioning results last year but the Dr opted for filing it as incomplete test rather than retesting. why? is beyond me…

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Claudia @...and so I ran March 16, 2010 at 6:07 am

Great Post Gena, thank you !!
I always stress the importance of getting a yearly Pap to my friends and often can’t believe that there are women who don’t get Pap’s at all Or haven’t seen their Dr’s in years.

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Hadley March 16, 2010 at 6:16 am

Amazing, Gena!

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Sophie @ yumventures March 16, 2010 at 6:24 am

I looooved this post! Thank you Gena! You hit the nail on the head on so many different levels. Nothing drastic, nothing life changing, just little reminders to pay attention and take care of ourselves. The more small changes I make to being healthier gives me more energy without feeling like I’m depriving myself. And I loved reading the my daily green monsters give me calcium, healthy fats, and are alkenizing! Awesome =)

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nelly March 16, 2010 at 6:33 am

awesome post gena!

my family is very accepting of my choice to eat healthier and plant based…but my boyfriend’s family is a little less accepting…his mother cooks with butter…she’ll say “antonella, this has nothing in it”…and i’ll ask “is there butter?” and she’ll respond “yes, but there is very little butter, i promise”…haha, i promise? they’ll try to convince me to “cheat”…and i stand my ground, but sometimes it’s really tough to hear these things, you know? i’ll have someone say “i could never ever live without meat”…it bothers me…but i just do my own thing…

another thing is “independence”…i look forward to my time…time with myself…and i am so proud of my independence…i love that the only person i truly rely on is myself…it’s so important to be self sufficient!

thanks for another great read girl!

=)

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katherine March 16, 2010 at 6:33 am

Hahaha The Guide To Getting It On is most definitely my favorite bridal shower gift to give ;-)

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Whitney @ Lettuce Love March 16, 2010 at 6:37 am

Wonderful post! Can you please write a book?! I love reading your advice and tips — you have such a honest and thoughtful voice.

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Heather Eats Almond Butter March 16, 2010 at 6:53 am

I meant to tell you that I watched Crazy Sexy Cancer for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I got online to check out Kris Carr’s site, and there you were. I was so excited, and I was like “I know her. I know Gena!!!” :)

Wonderful post my friend. So many wise words, and I could not agree more. Keep up the good work Gena – you’re amazing.

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Katie March 16, 2010 at 7:03 am

Good thing the foods I love are already alkali-rich foods! I’ve also had a lot of trouble with low energy and fatigue, so iron has been an important part of my diet in the past few years.

Thank you so much for all of the tips on this post… especially those relating to sexual health. I have more than a handful of friends who forego the bedside drawer for a number of reasons (none of which include an allergy to latex) and it’s only luck that’s spared them thus far. Not to sound too harsh. Anyway.

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Keri - IEatTrees March 16, 2010 at 7:06 am

Thank you so much for this post – it’s a lot of great information. I needed the reminder that coffee isn’t good for my body- it’s everywhere and hard to resist sometimes because I love the scent and taste!

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Gena March 16, 2010 at 7:08 am

Ha! Keri, I’ll soon do a post about my love affair with java. I drink plenty of coffee. It’s not good for me, but given the other good things I do for myself, I’ve forgiven the habit :)

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Brooke March 16, 2010 at 7:08 am

Gena, I am very surprised that you would recommend vaccines, especially the HPV one. Numerous girls have died from this vaccine and schools had to quit giving it to their students because one girl died right after receiving it. She collapsed in the hallway right in front of her classmates. I, for one, am not willing to risk my life for a vaccine. Every body is different and no one knows what can happen when you inject viruses into your bloodstream while completely bypassing our first line of defense, the digestive system. Also, strict vegans should be careful with vaccines because a lot of them are made with eggs, monkey cells, rat cells, and pig cells. Squalene oil is also used in vaccines and that is a known human toxin. Everyone needs to do their own research on vaccines, but I was just shocked to see that you would recommend them.

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Gena March 16, 2010 at 7:12 am

Sorry you feel that way, Brooke. Everyone feels differently about this issue, and I’m certainly not unaware that vaccines carry tremendous risks. Ultimately, I feel that the risks associated with not getting vaccines — namely, preventable death from commonplace childhood illnesses — outweigh the risks of getting them.

In the end, you have to know your own truth, and abide by it, and this is mine.

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Jen March 16, 2010 at 7:15 am

Such an empowering article, Gena. :)

Have you received the e-mail I sent a few days ago? Hopefully I’ll hear from you soon – either that or I’ll run into you at Peacefood since that has somehow become a new study haunt. :P

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Ameena March 16, 2010 at 7:33 am

Great tips Gena…I struggle with anemia and low calcium and despite incorporating all kinds of suggested foods I still have circles under my eyes, etc. So frustrating that doctors suggest red meat as the best way for me to overcome this problem because I don’t eat meat!

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Jennifer R. March 16, 2010 at 8:49 am

Ameena, have you been tested for a gluten intolerance? I suffered from anemia and my alternative doctor had me do this test to figure out why I wasn’t absorbing nutrients in my gut. I was shocked that it came out positive, as I had no digestive issues. Here’s the lab where I had my test — http://www.enterolab.com or read the book, Dangerous Grains (try getting it at your local library, I did). good luck to you!

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gina (fitnessista) March 16, 2010 at 7:33 am

wonderful collection of tips!
i love how you said exercise but not because you love to eat. i see too many women trying to exercise off every morsel (or run 10 miles so they can have a piece of apple pie) and it makes me sad. you can definitely have a healthy balance of both and exercise shouldn’t be a form of punishment.
hope you have a great day!
xoxo

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) March 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

I’m a proud mami after reading these tips because I abide by so many of them already! Thank you for the confidence boost. I have some great habits, but because they ARE habits, I tend not to be very conscious of them, meaning I would like to be more present in my good habits. For example, as I was working out to a Jillian Michaels DVD this morning, she said at one point, “remind yourself WHY you are doing this” (it was a particularly hard move), and at first I was like, “so I can eat!” And then immediately I thought, that’s terrible, Diana. Yes, the fact that I’m active helps to keep my weight stable, but my real reasons for working out are long term – I want to live a long life, and I want that life to be healthy and comfortable. Cultivating good habits and abiding by tips such as those you’ve given here give you a little extra insurance on that front. I also don’t want my hard-earned duckets to pay for things like hospital stays! I’m stingy – I’d rather splurge on amazing, nourishing food in the grocery store or at a restaurant, which is, in my opinion, a healthy habit for mind, body and soul altogether. ;)

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Lauren March 16, 2010 at 7:40 am

Hey Gena, wonderful post! :) Well written, great advice! No wonder this is my favorite blog! HUGS! XO

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Darryn (brio.gusto) March 16, 2010 at 7:57 am

Great article Gena! Tons of useful info in here. I feel like you have a really balanced, holistic approach to health and I love that you put that out there.

Thanks!

D

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radioactivegan March 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

Thank you so much for this post. The part about being comfortable being with yourself really hits home and I think it’s something everyone needs to hear once in a while. Thanks! I have really enjoyed woman’s week, and have learned a lot of interesting things.

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elise March 16, 2010 at 8:21 am

awesome post. chem lesson aside :) i appreciate the reminders. i love that exercise is NOT associated with eating…its one of the things that annoys me most about a variety of women’s health resources. eat because you like food, and work out because you like being healthy…

my favorite part of this post, though, is the section on not feeling responsible for others’ comfort (or discomfort for that matter). sometimes i feel awkward about the effect my dietary choices have on others when im eating out with people i dont know very well…but i should embrace it and not change my actions to alleviate their feelings. also, more and more now (since i started the blog and am more open about how i live) i get emails from family members and friends who have been changing their lifestyle – diet and exercise wise – which just reinforces how positive it can be to stick to your guns and believe in what you do.

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La March 16, 2010 at 8:23 am

Gena, this is seriously an amazing post. I don’t know how you managed to divine every single point of contention in my life and address it in one post, but … wow. That’s about all I can say.

I’m in the process of transitioning back into a 100% vegan and high raw diet and my mother is super concerned about my calcium intake. I had NO IDEA sesame seeds were good sources of calcium, but I eat tahini at least twice a day, in addition to dark leafies, so I’ll be able to tell her that! Thanks.

Also, on the independence thing – I’ve long been convinced my disordered eating habits (a lot a lot of sugar and wheat and not much else) contributed to my depression and overall reduced health. There was literally NOTHING anyone else in the world could do to help me fix my problems – I’m pretty opposed to pursuing therapy myself for personal reasons – and I knew it had to come down to me. It really took me learning to like and accept myself, which is something no one else could give me, and now I know I am on a positive path towards better health, and I did it myself! I am confident in the direction I am going because I have found my way on my own and it feels right FOR ME.

Thanks for yet another amazing post.

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*Andrea* March 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

fabulous post! you’re independent and strong and a great example for young women reading your blog (myself included).

“The more you do to dissociate fitness from food, the more you’ll be able to appreciate them both.” – great quote

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk March 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

I love the tip about fats. I get so annoyed at folks who shy away from good fats. I’m 105 pounds and 5’2″, and though I count calories to make sure I’m around where I should be (not to lose weight!), I never, ever look at fats. That’s because most of the fat I consume (with the exception of the occasional fried tofu or French fries) comes from healthy plant oils and nuts. Good fat does make you fat. I wish people would learn this!

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Abby March 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

I love your blog and it has been a huge inspiration in my families life. Usually I agree with you on just about everything you say but I have to disagree with one thing…vaccines. I really hope you research what the Gardisil vaccine is doing to our nations young woman. It is quit devastating.

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Marcia March 16, 2010 at 9:57 am

FABULOUS post. I really enjoyed it. Our bodies are pretty amazing.

I recently went off the pill (for the 2nd time in, um 20 years), and holy cow – I didn’t realize that the pill decreased my sex drive so much. Cuz now I have one.

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Christine (The Raw Project) March 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

Awesome post, what a great read. I’ve read so much about juicing, cleansing and fasting to start raw diets and debated trying it, but it’s just not for me.

I’ve really enjoyed the self-care focus starting a high-raw diet has shifted me to. Not being selfish, but moving to a lifestyle that focuses on total health and realizing inner beauty, not just weight management and the surrounding stress.

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Pure2raw twins March 16, 2010 at 11:39 am

Yes birth control is a personal decision, but a serious one that all girls need to consider all their options. Thanks for a the great tips ; )

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Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) March 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

I LOVED this post. Really, really wonderful Gena!

I really need to focus on alkalizing my body… I KNOW it contributes to many of my ailments!

And YAY for fats! I have been eating much more fats (healthy and not, with culinary school) lately- and you know what? I have been feeling great! My hair is shiny, my nails are growing quickly and my skin has an amazing glow =D

I love, love, LOVE how you talked about dissociating fitness with food. This has taken me a LONG time to accept, but it really is important. Now, I work out because I love how it makes me feel, and eat- because I LOVE to eat!!

xo
K

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Ricki March 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Fantastic tips, Gena. I wanted to add a couple of thoughts as someone “of a certain age” as well as someone with a lifelong history of yo-yo dieting.

Re: fats, ladies, I’ve lost 45 pounds in the past year by actually increasing the amount of fat I’m eating! I also didn’t “diet,” just ate as much as I wanted of foods that I knew would be good for me. I’m feeling better than I have in 20 years!!

I know you’re writing this for younger women, but some of your readers (such as moi) may be in the older category as well, so this is worth mentioning: as to minerals–iron, especially–I’ve been told that many women in perimenopause/menopause actually need to cut back on iron intake, as they can develop hemochromatosis, or excess iron in the blood (this actually happened to a good friend of mine when she hit 55; she’s vegetarian, not vegan). I’ve had my levels tested when I had my annual physical, and I’m just fine w/o supplements (though I do eat an awful lot of greens, sesame, and almonds!). Also just wanted to mention that not all tofu is high calcium–only the brands that use calcium as a coagulant to set the tofu are good sources (other brands use magnesium)–so it pays to check the labels.

And I LOVE your stance on detoxes–and eating “what’s optimal as often as is reasonable”–so realistic, and do-able! :)

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Gena March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Hey, thanks Ricki! I never mean to typecast my readers by age, so I appreciate your chiming in. Grazie.

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Melissa S. March 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I really loved this post Gena. You hit home with so many of the sections, especially the mind, body and soul. It’s amazing the things we can get caught up in that take aware from taking care of ourselves the right way!

and I went back to reread the post about appetites; love love love.

PS was wondering how you do your consultations? payment? that kind of thing…just curious. <3

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Tracy March 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm

This is such a fantastic post! I’ll definitely be re-reading it :-) I love the point about not letting others judgment affect the way we eat/drink – it’s so backwards that sometimes we go for the cake, drink, meat, whatever b/c it’s easier to not deal with comments/judgment than it is to eat the way we want!

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) March 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm

This is a really amazing article. I was wondering a bit about alkalinity and this answered it.. AND just put a smile on my face. God, it feels good to be a woman sometimes!

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melissa March 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm

This is such an amazing post. Definitely one I will print out and read often. You are so smart and insightful lady! I definitely second the get to know your body. Embracing my sexuality has made me more comfortable and confident as a women, and SERIOUSLY improved my sex life.

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leslie March 17, 2010 at 5:35 am

i really, really enjoyed this post. what i love is that i’m finally at a point where i truly believe and practice a great many of these tips. separating the concepts of eating and exercise was a huge one for me, but it has become so natural, and such an important part of who i am. both food and exercise are factors that contribute to my good health and positive mindset – but they are not interrelated.

i also really appreciated your inclusion of guidelines on sexual health, which is far too often glossed over by most women (and men!). taking care of our bodies is not just about food, and it most certainly involves our sex lives. nothing bothers me more than when men a) simply assume all women are on the pill, and b) assume the only thing we need to protect ourselves against is pregnancy.

i think what i love most about this post is how empowering it is when you really believe and practice all of these things. taking control of your health, ridding yourself of diet and exercise rules, taking charge of your sex life, understanding what your body wants and enjoys, and to be cliche, “marching to your own drummer” no matter what area of life – these are the things that make us unique and in control of our own lives. loved this post gena!

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coco March 17, 2010 at 5:35 am

great post Gena! I like that you post about not how to eat healthy but be healthy emotionally as well.. that’s so important and we often neglect! :)

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Whole Body Love March 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

I loved this post. I have been off BCP for 2 years. I had a non-hormonal IUD placed after my daughter was born and I love it!! I also have no problem being alone. I agree: many women seem to feel as if it’s wrong to not have a companion. I think it’s vital to get to know one’s self. Thanks for the great reading!

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Sarah March 17, 2010 at 9:48 am

What a wonderful post, Gena. I always feel so calm and centered after I read your posts, be it a salad dressing recipe or something as all encompassing and nurturing as this one. Thank you!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

Holy crap where do I even begin?!! WOW!

Ok the highlights from memory…
1 in 2 have herpes in NYC reportedly? wow. Glad I’ve been married for a decade and I got scooped up pretty young :)
Not fearing Fat
Ditching Dairy
Not exercising so that you can eat. But b/c you want to exercise.
BCPs and BC being a personal decision and dont go on the pill b/c you think that’s the “only option”..there are others :)
Last section, making choices that make others feel uncomfortable…but do it anyway if you believe in it. Thank you. I need to always hear this msg!

And the vaccine info. As mother to a small child, we have declined 95% of vaccines b/c we have don TONS (as in thousands of hours) of research during pregnancy and during the ensuing 3+ yrs since pregnancy and constantly re-eval our choices and make sure we still stand by it. I did a post on Mama Pea’s blog on this topic. Anyway the HPV vaccine…there have been fatalities correlated with it as well as a myriad of adverse side effects but it can help to prevent cancer…so it’s not like we’re talking the Mumps. Cancer. Much different. Not sure how this will play out for us…

Anyway though Gena, fabulous post. My gawd this was sooo comprehensive, I loved every word!

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Gena March 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Great comment! I’m rather inclined to agree with you about vaccines: stay informed, and it’s not all or nothing. Parents can opt out of some and in on some.

With HPV, I agree that there are big risks. And don’t deny the side effects thus far. But we’re talking about a preventable form of cancer, that can be deadly if untreated. I think the benefit of this vaccine is worth it.

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TheKiwiBex March 17, 2010 at 3:07 pm

The last point about embracing your independence really resonated with me, and I just wish that more women would learn to do this. I have a lovely boyfriend, many fantastic friends and am close to my family, but sometimes there’s nothing I like better than being on my own! Thank you for a wonderful post :)

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KRISTEN'S RAW March 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Oooh I like this post! And this one stood out to me: “Don’t Feel Responsible for Other People’s Comfort” – uh huh!

I also liked the reminder about lifting weights. I am eager to get in the gym for that part of my physical fitness routine after the baby is born. :)

XOXO,
Kristen

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Lindsay March 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Wow, so glad I found your blog. I am inspired and can’t wait to read more and cook these recipes!
LC

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sophia March 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm

These are some really great and practical advice, Gena. I particularly liked that you emphasized the importance of fat, and that fad diets don’t work. I myself was rather shocked when I found out several of the girls in my class have gone through the Master Cleanse Diet…it’s ridiculous!

I’m not exactly sure I agree with you that milk is BAD for you. I don’t think it has all the amazing qualities that the dairy companies try to profess, but I can’t see how something generations and generations have consumed can be that bad? I’ve read Skinny Bitch’s version on this..and I’ve shunned dairy for sometime before, but now I do eat them, and I feel better than I was before. That’s just a personal view and experience, of course.

Oh, and new thing I learned about the importance of alkalinizing…thanks, Gena! :-)

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Gena March 18, 2010 at 4:25 am

Thanks honey!!!

I like some things about Skinny Bitch (what it has done for veganism, and the humor) but I also find it to be extremely proselytizing at times.

My own issue with dairy is that it’s so heavily mucous forming, which wreaks havoc on digestion. Some people will be less affected than others by this. Choosing goat dairy over bovine will decrease the problem in a big way. But there’s just no denying the reduction in fatigue, allergies, and asthma that dairy cessation has been proven to contribute to.

Of course, there’s also the casein in dairy (the animal protein), which has been linked to tumor growth (for more on this, THE CHINA STUDY is awesome).

We’re the only species that drinks milk into adulthood, and the only that drinks the milk of another species — this is all in SB, but it’s a definite part of my personal reasoning.

At the end of the day, I’m not so militant a vegan that I can’t listen to reasonable arguments for certain animal products, and I’ve def heard some persuasive ones for eggs, and even fowl and meat that comes from a small, ethical farming environment. But given the great benefits I’ve noted in dairy reduction, bovine dairy reduction in particular, I stand firm in not being a proponent.

With all that said, of course there are many who eat dairy and thrive, especially if it’s local, hormone and antibiotic free! We all have to do what feels persuasive and logical to us. Thanks for sharing this point, and I’m happy you liked the post.

Gena

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Reigne March 18, 2010 at 12:03 am

Gena, I love this post! Nice to see a different view on women’s health… (Particularly nutrition.) You’re such an inspiration…

I’ve recently read “Nancy Clarke’s Guide to Nutrition” which states, that in order to obtain the amount of calcium found in a single glass of milk, you’ll need to consume, 4 cups of Broccoli, 4 cups of sesame seeds, two cups of bok choy, three cups of cooked spinach, 1/2 a cake of tofu… which is a lot, considering that the recommended of intake of calcium is about 1200mg – 3-4 glasses of milk, or yoghurt… What is your opinion on this? How can one obtain their calcium needs naturally, without the consumption of milk?

:) Reigne.

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Gena March 18, 2010 at 4:13 am

Hey Reigne,

I stole the following from a vegan resource group. It’s over 2 days at over 1000 mg per day. I’d have to think more about how to Choosing Raw-ify it — that is, how to swap out some of the soy and processed foods — but it’s a great place to start:

1 serving Fortified Pancakes 195
1 cup Calcium-Fortified Soy milk 300

Lunch:

1 serving Hummus on Pita Bread (p. 27) 178
6 Dried Figs 68
1/4 cup Almonds 89

Dinner:

1 serving Scrambled Tofu and
Bok Choy over Brown Rice (p. 96) 190
1 serving Green Salad and
Tangerine Dressing (p. 39) 30
1 serving Chocolate Pudding (p. 114) 92

TOTAL 1142

Breakfast:

1 serving Tropical Fruit Smoothie (p. 16) 102
1 Toasted Bagel with 89
2 Tbsp Almond Butter 86

Lunch:

1 serving Mini Pizzas (p. 34) 235
1 serving Creamed Spinach (p. 68) 121

Dinner:

1 serving Lemon Rice Soup (p. 46) 82
1 serving Tempeh Squash Burgers 135
1 cup Steamed Broccoli 94
1 serving Chocolate Pudding (p. 114) 92

I’d probably stick some tahini and blackstrap molasses in there, too, and cut out some of the fortified products.

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Ken Leota March 18, 2010 at 12:06 am

A may be a guy, but I loved that article! =]
I actually bookmarked it. It was really informative and had a lot of things I never really considered important, until now. Thanks a bunch.

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AnnaO March 18, 2010 at 2:54 am

Wow, what can I say that haven´t already been said? I just love this! Thank you!

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Shannon March 18, 2010 at 6:12 am

Gena, thank you so much, this was a really great post! It seemed to touch on so many issues I struggle with, especially the nutrition and mind/body aspects. It’s so funny, because I often think it’s just me, but obviously we all share the same experiences and thoughts. Sometimes, I really do think I can eat what I want when I spend an extra hour at the gym.

Some doctors are becoming more open to young women using the copper IUD as birth control, I think if you’re against using hormonal birth control it’s worth talking to your doctor about. I use to suffer from major migraines when I was on the pill, but after trying everything under the sun we decided the IUD was the best option for me. I love it so much and am fortunate my doctor was willing to work with me! You never know, if you don’t ask.

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Veronica (LifeWithNature) March 18, 2010 at 9:01 am

Wow, That’s a post that certainly deserves a comment!

It seems to me that so many women tend to focus on food when they think about health. However, health is much more than just food and exercise; it has to involve every aspects of life itself, as you so brillantly covered in this post.

It really helped me remember all the other areas in which I can do some things to improve my own healthy lifestyle.

Thanks Gena!

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RunToTheFinish March 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm

As always a really great post!

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mrd March 23, 2010 at 5:52 am

I’m late to this party (thank you, vacation!), but I had to chime in and offer my thanks. Your smart, informative, opinionated posts on women and women’s health have been my favorite parts of your blog. They remind me that even though I no longer work for an feminist/activist group, I can still conduct my daily life as a proud feminist.

Thanks for sharing your feminism – and your general wisdom – with us.

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Laury March 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! =) =) =)

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janet December 19, 2012 at 3:02 am

thank for the tips. I will try it later.

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women health tips February 6, 2013 at 1:14 am

what should be diet plan for a overweight women. ?

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The Best Exercises March 13, 2013 at 11:50 am

Staying active will help you develop a strong body that looks and feels good as you age. It can lower your risk for disease, reduce stress and protect your bones and joints. So it’s important to take part in physical activities that are not only challenging, but also fun and motivating.

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cindy March 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Great article, I find my daily life sometimes getting really busy that I forget the good advice contained in this article. Reading this article today has brought me back to somethings I’ve skipped recently like time alone to refocus and taking my iron and calcium tablets. But most of all Its brought me back to thinking about my well being again. Thanks.

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George April 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Thanks For Nice Information About Women Health.

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androgel May 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm

always i used to read smaller content that as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with
this article which I am reading now.

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Salena Brown August 31, 2013 at 11:50 pm

THANX FOR THE TIPS, OPE WOMEN WILL BE HELPED!

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nexus pheromones Indonesia October 27, 2013 at 1:03 am

I am no longer sure where you are getting yiur information,however great topic.
I needs to spend some time fijnding out much more or working out more.
Thanks for wonderful information I used to be searching for this info for my mission.

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