(NewsUSA) - Aging gracefully is made easier through a focus on maintaining good health as you age. For women especially, this is no easy feat. But, as women age, maintaining a healthy lifestyle remains important, and there are a few issues that should be top of mind in 2013.
Diet and lifestyle choices must be tailored to address common women's health issues, including the risk of heart disease -- the number one killer of women -- as well as the loss of muscle mass and bone density.
According the American Heart Association, a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight heart disease. Unfortunately, many women may not always recognize the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack because they sometimes appear more subtle when compared with those typically experienced by men.
"Women need muscle, especially as they age. By about age 40, women gradually start to lose muscle mass," explains registered dietitian, Marie Spano, MS, RD. "In general, it is recommended that 10-35 percent of your daily calories come from protein."
Digestive issues are another health concern for women.
More than 4 million Americans have issues with constipation, making constipation one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the country, and those reporting constipation most often are women and adults ages 65 and older.
Here are Spano's tips to help women maintain good health as they age:
* Reduce your risk of heart disease by practicing healthy lifestyle habits -- exercise regularly, control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eat well, maintain a healthy weight and don't smoke.
* Make sure you get enough calcium, over the long term. Intakes of calcium below recommended levels have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Women should aim to get between 1,000 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day, depending on age, making calcium rich foods vital.
* Unless instructed by your physician, avoid diets that call for eliminating certain food groups completely; this can result in a nutrient deficiency. When dieting or cutting calories, choose nutritious foods that deliver sufficient vitamins, minerals and fiber.
* To avoid digestive issues, drink enough fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated, exercise and eat fiber. Daily fiber recommendations are 25-38 grams for adults 50 and under and 21-30 grams per day for those 51 and older. Women tend to be more constipated than men, and fiber can help keep you regular.