Skip to content

Health Habits Women Over 40 Should Avoid Like the Plague

9 habits experts warn to avoid.

Your 40s are a time to celebrate what you've accomplished and enjoy the life you've built, but it's also a time to be mindful of your health and make positive lifestyle changes that help prolong good health. Experts share with Eat This, Not That! Health habits women over 40 should avoid immediately and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Foods That Worsen Menopausal Symptoms

Potato chips

Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience reveals, "Certain foods, such as processed, fatty or spicy foods, can worsen menopausal symptoms for some women. Many foods like potato chips, cheeseburgers, and sweets have high sodium, fat, and sugar levels. These ingredients can increase bloating, flushing and cramping. They can also lead to weight gain, making menopause symptoms worse." 


Alcohol Use


Marchese says, "An occasional social drink isn't terrible for your health. However, more than two or three drinks per day can increase your risk of heart disease. The North American Menopause Society also states that women who have two to dive drinks a day have one and a half times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who don't drink." 


Not Exercising Enough


"Regular exercise and activity are essential for everyone, but women over 40 can significantly benefit from working out," Marchese states. "Declining estrogen can affect weight, blood pressure, and bone density and increase the risk of diabetes. Maintaining an active lifestyle can combat all of these issues and vastly reduce disease risk. Consider taking dance classes, going for daily walks, jogging or finding a nearby bicycle trail. As a bonus, exercise can improve your mood and lower stress." 


Thinking Your Too Young for Cardiovascular Issues

Doctor showing test results to a patient, portrait.

Dr. Mike Green, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Winona explains, "Women over 40 should avoid thinking they're too young to have cardiovascular issues. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all women 20 years and older have some form of cardiovascular disease. Once women hit menopause, which typically happens in the early 50s, a woman's cardiovascular risk increases. The good news is that most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes, and they're the same ones we've always heard about: a healthy diet, regular exercise and routine medical checkups." 


Choosing Products That Are Toxic to Your Skin



Wellness and clean living expert Julie McClure adds, "We all want to look young and feel good. Which can come at the cost of choosing skin care products that compromise health for quick results. Most of us don't pay attention to the ingredients that we put on our skin. The problem with toxins is that they accumulate over time. What didn't bother us in our 20s, is now more of a concern in our 40s. Being conscious about your skin care products not only helps your skin and face but promotes an overall healthy body. The skin is the biggest detox organ, if you continue to pollute it with poor quality products your health will eventually pay the price." 


Blue Light Exposure


McClure says, "Do you fall asleep with your phone in hand or beside you? In this age of technology most of us are constantly bombarded with blue light. Whether it is our screens at work, our phones throughout the day or televisions at night, we get a reasonable dose.  Blue light exposure has the biggest impact on our sleep cycles and can contribute to problems with sleep. Without sleep the body will start to deplete other energy reserves, leaving us even more tired than before. So here's the simple tip. Put your phone away or shut down any electronics an hour before bed. Give yourself some screen-free time and watch your biological clock reset."


Skipping Breakfast

fiber and protein breakfast

Dominique Hoffman, MS, CNS shares, "Many women skip breakfast in order to reduce their calorie intake. By not breaking the previous night's fast, the body shuts down and reduces calorie spending. When meal time comes, the appetite is ignited because the body finally wakes up and demands higher quantities of food. This is how starvation diets lead to weight gain. Once the person starts eating, her appetite will be difficult to satisfy due to the dysregulation in gut-brain messengers that control appetite."


Avoid Sun Exposure Without Adequate Protection

woman applying sunscreen on her face in snowy mountains in winter

Dr. Ricardo Castrellón, Double Board-Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon states, "May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and is a condition I see weekly in my surgery clinic, where I perform Mohs Surgery to remove cancerous tissue. Yes, if caught early, a plastic surgeon can mitigate the damage through removal. But the truth is, Skin Cancer is the most common and most preventable form of cancer there is. Wearing sunscreen, avoiding direct exposure between 10am-4pm, and wearing a hat and sleeves can go such a long way in preventing skin cancer. I would love to see fewer skin cancer patients on my surgery table!" 




Dr. Castrellón says, "We all know smoking is harmful and causes multiple forms of cancer but did you know it also makes you a very poor surgical candidate? As a Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon and Burn Specialist, I am often called to the ER to assist after severe accidents, life's most terrifying and unexpected moments, to help mitigate and repair the physical and cosmetic damage. Smokers are riskier to put under anesthesia, have higher chances of blot clots, and slower recovery times. Whenever you seek or have a consultation for surgery, the surgeon will tell you to quit smoking. But what about the times you can't account or plan for, when an emergency surgery is crucial? This is just yet another reason in a long list to ditch this aging, damaging, risky habit."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
Filed Under