Maria Shriver, 66, on gut health, aging and healthcare solutions

  • Maria Shriver spoke with Prevention to share her thoughts on gut health, wellness and the importance of women using their voice to advocate for their own wellbeing.
  • Her daughter, Katherine Schwarzenegger, also shared her thoughts on aging.
  • “I think it’s really important for women to use their voices on their own behalf, not just when it comes to your health, but at work and especially at home,” Shriver says.

    Maria Shriver and her daughter Catherine Schwarzenegger are not your average mother-daughter duo. From writing a New York Times bestselling book, The gift of forgiveness Working around the clock as voices of change for women’s health, the two have proven they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

    Their latest initiative involves a partnership with Renew Life, a probiotic supplement company. Together, they are working to raise awareness of the importance for women to understand their own wellness needs, starting with gut health.

    “In terms of the gut specifically, we now know that the gut is often referred to as the second brain,” says Shriver. “Just as brain-healthy living is essential to keeping our minds sharp as we age, gut-healthy living is also very important.”

    But when it comes to her health, Shriver reveals that her access to health and wellness was limited during her younger years. That’s why she now stresses the importance of educating women on topics like gut health and hormones.

    “Growing up, I never heard of gut health or probiotics (supplements) or prebiotics, especially for women. Women’s health, in general, wasn’t much talked about until recently. Funding and research on women’s health issues still lag decades behind.

    “It’s essential that women are the CEOs of their own health.”

      And that’s not the only problem. Shriver says several women she has spoken with express that medical professionals often don’t have answers to their health issues.

      “Women in all walks of life are struggling to find health answers for themselves and the women in their families, especially when it comes to hormones. I should mention that we still don’t know why 80% of all autoimmune diseases are diagnosed in women,” says Shriver.

      Although Shriver wished she knew more about her health in her formative years, she understands that it’s never too late to start caring for, educating, and standing up for yourself.

      “When it comes to wellness, it’s critical that women are the CEOs of their own health,” says Shriver. “Approach your doctor’s visit like a journalist. Bring a notebook, write down your symptoms and be detailed. If something is still wrong or you don’t feel heard, get a second opinion. Persist. Standing up for your own health and that of your loved ones can be daunting, but that’s how we move the needle and keep moving forward.

      And when it comes to aging, Shriver also hopes to usher in a new wave of thinking, one that will challenge society’s views. “I just hosted a virtual aging summit where we spoke to pioneers across industries on the topic. Everyone agreed that we need to radically redefine aging as a society. Instead of aging being something to fear, we need to start seeing it for the gift that it is. Today, I feel younger than ever.

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      Schwarzenegger is also grateful to have learned so much about her mother’s health. Luckily for us, she shared with Prevention the only thing she would say to her young self.

      “The importance of paying attention to taking care of your body when you’re young has huge long-term benefits. Focusing on your gut and brain health when you’re young is very helpful and has huge benefits for how you feel as you age,” says Schwarzenegger.

      Shriver adds: “What you do for your gut, for your brain, for your whole body in your 20s, 30s and 40s will impact how old you are and how you feel in your 60s, 60s and beyond.”

      While it may be best to start your health journey at a young age, Shriver is showing us all how to advocate for ourselves now – and it’s something we can support.

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