With more than 188,000 followers on Instagram, Dr. Poonam Desai has created a necessary dialogue about women’s health issues that have long been slept under the rug, especially menopause. She offered her insights into how women can prioritize their health and live better at all ages.
Can you share some background information about yourself?
I’m an ER doctor and am board-certified in lifestyle medicine. I did a fellowship in precision medicine. I’m also a professional dancer. I’ve always been interested in fitness and nutrition. During my time as an ER doctor, I realized that my hectic schedule was contradicting my beliefs about self-care. This led me to explore other areas of medicine, health, fitness, and nutrition. I took courses, did a fellowship, and now I practice concierge medicine, focusing on educating others about health.
Why did you bring your knowledge to social media?
Initially, my social media was a travel blog, but I began sharing health and nutrition facts I discovered during my travels. People showed interest, so I transitioned to using social media for education. I realized the importance of providing evidence-based information in an engaging manner, especially regarding health.
How can women proactively manage health challenges like menopause?
Self-care is vital. Women face societal pressures to excel in various roles (work, home, parenthood, nutrition, etc.), but taking care of oneself is crucial. Prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. To manage health, focus on fitness, nutrition, and stress management. Address hormone health, which is often overlooked in medical visits. Educate yourself and engage in conversations with doctors about hormone health and its impact.
How can nutrition help balance hormones, particularly during menopause?
Balancing hormones depends on various factors. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet, a nutritious diet is important. Avoid endocrine disruptors and processed foods. More research is needed to understand nutrition’s effects on hormone health.
Any advice for those passionate about transforming women’s health?
Stay persistent. Don’t give up. The interest and need for knowledge about women’s health are growing, making this a great time for change. Focus on research, particularly in hormone health. This is an opportune moment to be part of the movement.
How has your profession influenced your approach to motherhood?
Becoming a mother later in life has made me wiser and more aware. I advocate for my daughter’s health, especially in terms of nutrition and choices at school. I understand the importance of promoting healthy habits and informed decisions. Because of my medical background, I am more proactive and informed as a parent, which empowers me to be vocal about nutrition and healthier choices. I educate my child about what she consumes and why, so she understands the importance of these decisions now and later in life.
What lifestyle changes reduce heart disease risk for women?
Firstly, recognize that heart disease affects women as well! It is often thought of as a male health issue, but that is not the case. Once we address this, it is important for women to do the following:
- Understand your risk factors
- Treat conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure
- Adopt a nutritious diet
- Manage stress
- Maintain a strong social network for support
Are health disparities between men and women being addressed?
Yes, the medical field is increasingly discussing gender disparities and health inequities, although there’s room for improvement. More work is needed; understanding that health issues affect both men and women equally is crucial.
What other important topics should be addressed in this campaign?
Menopause and perimenopause are often overlooked. These topics need more attention; it is important for women to know they don’t have to suffer in silence. Women should know there are treatments available and have open conversations about these phases of life — these conversations should be encouraged and normalized!