This episode’s guest is Dr. Pushpinder Dhillon, a distinguished triple board-certified physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) and the proud owner of Merak Wellness Center. With a focus on women’s health and wellness, anti-aging solutions, and pelvic floor health, Dr. Dhillon brings a wealth of expertise to the table.

In this enlightening conversation, Dr. Dhillon shares invaluable insights on a wide range of topics pertinent to women’s health, especially those aged 50 and above. From discussing the impact of stress on women’s well-being to exploring the intricate relationship between menopause and cholesterol levels, she provides practical advice for maintaining a healthy heart and emphasizes the importance of pelvic health. Join us as we dive into these crucial subjects and more, guided by Dr. Dhillon’s expertise and passion for empowering women to lead vibrant, fulfilling lives.

Navigating Women’s Wellness: A Holistic Approach

Dr. Pushpinder Dhillon, a triple board-certified physician, is passionate about women’s wellness. As the founder of Merak Wellness, she specializes in providing comprehensive care for women from their childbearing years through menopause, aiming to shatter the stigma surrounding the physical changes women undergo and challenge the misconception that discomfort is an inevitable part of the journey.

Women experience significant changes throughout their lives, particularly after childbirth and as they age. Dr. Dhillon emphasizes that while these changes are natural, they don’t have to be accepted as inevitable. Hormonal shifts, pelvic health, and the impact of stress on the body are all important aspects of female health to consider. As we age, holistic measures such as diet, exercise, and self-care can help women manage mental and physical changes. 

Throughout this episode the message is clear: women can and should take proactive steps to maintain their health and well-being, navigating the transitions of life with confidence and vitality.

Managing Cholesterol, With and Without Medicine

A common concern for women going through menopause is the rising of cholesterol levels during this life change. Christina shares frustrations from conversations with her friends about doctors recommending medication as the only solution. Dr. Dhillon confirms that menopause indeed triggers hormonal changes and can lead to increased cholesterol levels. In turn, the higher cholesterol can heighten the risk of heart disease.

Despite this, Dr. Dhillon reassures listeners that there are proactive steps they can take to manage cholesterol naturally before resorting to medication. Prioritizing a balanced diet and regular exercise can help manage cholesterol level. Dr. Dhillon recommends doing cardio and weight-bearing exercises at least two to three times a week for 20 minutes each session. In addition, she advised to reduce fatty foods and increase protein intake.

Christina and Dr. Dhillon discuss the complexities of choosing heart-healthy foods. Navigating dietary choices can be confusing, particularly regarding protein sources and fats. Providing clear guidance, Dr. Dhillon recommends lean meats like chicken breast and seafood, along with vegetarian options like chickpeas and hummus. She emphasizes the benefits of nuts, despite their high-fat content, as they increase the good cholesterol (HDL) and are protective for heart health.

Addressing Christina’s concern about balancing high cholesterol with high good cholesterol, Dr. Dhillon explains that having high HDL can indeed offset some of the risks associated with high total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). Consulting with a cardiologist to assess overall heart health and risk factors can help provide personalized guidance. 

Ultimately, while medication might be necessary for some, the value of lifestyle changes in controlling cholesterol levels should not be overlooked. More and more, women are feeling empowered to take charge of their health and well-being during menopause and beyond on their own terms

Health Concerns for Women Over 50

We know that women over 50 have unique health concerns to prioritize. 

One of those concerns is bone health, and Dr. Dhillon recommends weight-bearing exercises to strengthen muscles and improve balance, thereby reducing the risk of falls and fractures. This is especially crucial for women living independently. 

Addressing another concern as women age, Dr. Dhillon discusses urinary incontinence, a common issue post-childbirth. In these instances, core exercises can benefit pelvic health and improve quality of life.

When evaluating women’s overall health, stress can have a significant impact on health and wellness. Dr. Dhillon notes its links to hormonal imbalances, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. It’s important to learn effective stress management techniques. Maintaining good sleep hygiene is also critical, as insufficient sleep can contribute to various health problems. Dr. Dhillon encourages listeners to find stress relief activities that suit their preferences, emphasizing their positive impact on both mental and physical well-being.

The interconnectedness of different bodily systems benefit from a holistic approach to maintaining health and vitality as women age.

Tips For Improving Sleep

Sleep patterns and routines can change as we age. Diving into the intricacies of achieving a good night’s sleep, Christina raises the question of whether interruptions like getting up to use the restroom affect sleep quality. Is it really necessary to get seven hours of uninterrupted sleep? Dr. Dhillon explains that while ideally, seven straight hours of sleep is beneficial, interruptions are common, especially with age. The good news is that those particular interruptions can be minimized with good pelvic health.

Dr. Dhillon shares a few tips that can be helpful when maintaining good sleep hygiene:

  1. Stick to a consistent bedtime
  2. Avoid late-night eating
  3. Opt for a high-protein snack an hour before bed to regulate metabolism and keep blood sugar levels stable, which is also particularly helpful for managing diabetes. 
  4. Incorporate light exercise in the evening, like walking, to aid digestion and promote better sleep.

Overall, Dr. Dhillon emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to sleep, encompassing dietary habits, exercise, and pelvic health, to ensure women can enjoy restorative and uninterrupted sleep, contributing to overall health and well-being.

Simple, Sustainable Nutrition

There are many different approaches and strategies to manage diet and nutritional health. Christina and Dr. Dhillon explore the trending topic of intermittent fasting and the efficacy of different dietary approaches. While many have found success with intermittent fasting, Dr. Dhillon emphasizes the importance of sustainable nutrition plans. She advocates for frequent, balanced meals that consist of lean protein and complex carbs to support overall health. 

In her recommended meal structure, Dr. Dhillon suggests including three main meals and three snacks, focusing on high-protein, low-carb options. Examples of nutritious snacks include apple slices with peanut butter or Greek yogurt with berries—low-sugar, whole-grain choices. 

Looking for a new snack idea? Christina shares one of her favorites—toasted wheat pita chips with hummus, a delicious and healthy snack. Dr. Dhillon recommends making simple yet impactful dietary changes for overall well-being. Small adjustments in diet can lead to significant improvements in health and lifestyle.

Another healthy snack idea is fruit. But before you reach for just any fruit, Dr. Dhillon encourages listeners to pay attention to sugar content. Fruits like mangoes, pineapples, papayas, grapes, and oranges should be enjoyed in moderation due to their high sugar and carb content. Instead, she recommends opting for fruits lower in sugar such as berries and apples. Bananas are another healthy option, especially when still slightly green, and Dr. Dhillon suggests pairing them with peanut butter for added nutrition.

Supplements and Vitamins

In an ideal world, a perfect diet and adequate sun exposure would be enough to keep the right levels of vitamins in our bodies, negating the need for supplements. The reality is that, especially as we age, it is not often possible. 

A multivitamin created specifically to improve women’s overall health is a great start. Dr. Dhillon also recommends magnesium for managing stiffness and promoting regular bowel movements. Additionally, Vitamin D supplementation is crucial, especially for those with limited sun exposure, as it plays a vital role in bone health.

Another important nutrient and popular supplement is calcium, particularly for women who may not consume enough dairy. Dr. Dhillon also suggests considering probiotics, which have shown benefits for gut and bone health. 

Helpful Advice to Improve Your Wellness

As the episode wraps up, Dr. Dhillon offers some final advice to listeners. 

Practice self-care, manage stress, maintain a balanced diet, and include regular exercise in your routine. 

Dr. Dhillon urges listeners to dedicate 15 to 20 minutes each day to activities that help reduce stress and promote well-being. Examples can include meditation, walking, or spending time with friends. She also highlights the significance of maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise routine, recommending a mix of cardio and weight-bearing exercises. 

Interested in learning more? If you’re in Washington DC or Virginia, visit one of the Merak Wellness Centers, conveniently located in Fredericksburg, VA and Springfield, VA. 

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