Internal Medicine Specialist Shares Top Five Health Tips for Michigan Moms

Author: McLaren Flint

Mother’s Day will have extra meaning this year because it also marks the start of National Women’s Health Week. It’s the perfect time to remind your mom or any special woman you love to be proactive about her health. Give mom the gift of five preventative care tips that could lead to early detection and save her life.

The first tip is to take action, starting with taking charge of modifiable risk factors, the things we can control. 

“Modifiable risk factors may include lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet or a diet high in sodium, having a high BMI or cholesterol, smoking, drinking, and stress,” said Wafa Abbud, MD, a board-certified internal medicine specialist at McLaren Flint - Community Medical Center. “The good news is that these factors can be adjusted and adopted.”

Doing so will improve your blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and BMI statistics. 

That leads us right to tip 2, be active. Physical activity is good for the body and mind. It is essential for heart health. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which adds up to about 30 minutes a day. Make sure mom knows to make strength training part of her routine because it can lower the risk of osteoporosis and balance issues. 

Tip 3, eating a balanced and healthy diet, will also help with those modifiable risk factors Dr. Abbud described. This means eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products while avoiding salt, saturated and trans fats, and added sugar. Taking a multivitamin will help ensure you get all the nutrients that can be hard to get in the proper amounts through diet alone. Make sure it includes folic acid. Our bodies use it to make new cells. 

When following tips 2 and 3, Dr. Abbud said, “Start small and avoid getting discouraged by tackling one thing at a time. For example, begin by taking short walks several times a week, drink less pop or alcohol and more water, or start the day with a healthy breakfast.”

There are disease risk factors we can’t control, like our genes, so tip 4 is a reminder to get those regular screenings and exams. A woman’s age and, in some cases, family history of diseases factor into when she will need those screenings. 

Harvard Health Publishing says all women should have blood pressure checks at least once every two years. If blood pressure is high, her doctor might also recommend a diabetes screening. In addition, women as young as 20, especially those at higher risk for heart disease, should have their cholesterol checked.

Harvard Health also recommends a Pap test every three years for women 21 to 65. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women at average breast cancer risk have a mammogram every two years. Higher-risk women may need to screen earlier and more often and should talk with their doctors about when to start. Women should also speak to their doctors about their colon cancer risk.  Screening is recommended, beginning at 50, for women at average risk.  Women with a smoking history may also need annual tomography to screen for lung cancer. 

We want mom to take care of both her physical and mental health. So, tip 5 is to make mental health a priority.  Self-care is especially important for women who are caregivers for others. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, this means getting enough sleep. It also means taking time for things like favorite activities and friends. Meditation and yoga can also be good stress reducers. 

This Mother’s Day, give your mom one of the best gifts, the encouragement to take charge of her. 

If your mom or female loved one needs a primary care provider accepting new patients, click here.