Women’s health focus of new Lowell General speaker series

Via Peters

LOWELL — Gut health problems aren’t unique to women, but they are more common. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, women are two times more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, and are genetically predisposed to slower digestion.

But for many women, conditions often go undiagnosed and gut health becomes a daily challenge.

Dr. Supriya Rao, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Lowell General Hospital, typically treats the symptoms of these conditions, but recently she provided more than 30 local woman some preventative medicine at UMass Lowell’s Inn and Conference Center.

“People often ask — what should I eat?” Rao said. “I don’t like to think of eating as a diet. I like to think of it as a lifestyle.”

Rao was speaking as part of Lowell General Hospital’s free Women’s Wellness Series, a new program that aims to bring health information and awareness to women in the community as a way to keep them healthy and out of the hospital. A new program will be held every three months, focusing on issues from breast health to plastic surgery. The presentation was funded by a donation from Enterprise Wealth Management.

Lowell General Director of Philanthropy Jennifer Hanson said the concept for the Women’s Wellness Series began as a thank you to hospital donors, particularly women, who often are the health care decision-makers in families. Once word got out, interest quickly spread.

“Lowell General has always believed the best way to make our community healthier is by bringing care beyond the walls of the hospital,” Hanson said. “We’ve got some incredible medical experts here in Lowell, and local women have shown they are interested in what they have to offer.”

In front of a full room at the breakfast hour, Rao provided background on the gut’s microbiome, the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in people’s bodies and help people digest, and the role of probiotics (healthy digestive bacteria), prebiotics (food for that bacteria) and post-biotics (help move food through).

The best way to achieve a healthy gut and microbiome is by eating the right foods, she said, not diets, cleanses and supplements. Foods to avoid include red meat and processed sugars, even many juices, which she described as a “glass of sugar.” Whole grains, vegetables and fruits support people’s microbiome and lead to a healthier gut.

To demonstrate, Rao prepared a Japanese-inspired quinoa salad with edamame that included ingredients such as lemon, kale, Persian cucumber, avocado and toasted sesame seeds.

Guests asked several questions at the end, and took home a sample of the salad.

“Our community does a lot to support us, and this is one way we can give back and empower some local women to take control of their health care,” Hanson said.

For more information about the next Women’s Wellness Series program, email [email protected]

Women’s health is focus of new Lowell General speaker series

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