Maria Shriver, 66, on why women should become ‘CEOs of their own health‘
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Maria Shriver spoke with Prevention to share her thoughts on gut health, wellness, and the importance of women using their voices to advocate for their own wellbeing.
Her daughter, Katherine Schwarzenegger, also shared her thoughts on aging.
“I think it’s very important that women use their voices on their own behalf—not just when it comes to your health, but at work and especially at home,” says Shriver.
Maria Shriver and her daughter Katherine Schwarzenegger aren’t your average mother-daughter duo. From writing a New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Forgiveness , to working around the clock as voices of change for women’s health, the two have proven that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
Their latest endeavor involves a partnership with Renew Life, a probiotic supplement company. Together, they’re working to spread awareness about the importance of women understanding their own wellness needs—starting with gut health.
“When it comes to the gut specifically, we know now that the gut is often called the second brain,” says Shriver. “Just like it’s critical to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle to keep our minds sharp as we age, it’s super important to lead a gut-healthy lifestyle as well.”
But when it comes to her health, Shriver reveals that her access to health and wellness was limited during her younger years. This is why she now stresses the importance of educating women about 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 talked about much at all until recently. Funding and research into women’s health issues are still decades behind.”
And that’s not the only issue. Shriver says multiple women she has spoken with express that medical professionals often don’t have answers for their health concerns.
“Women across the board 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.
Even though Shriver wishes that she would have known more about her health during her formative years, she understands it’s never too late to start caring, educating, and speaking up for yourself.
“When it comes to wellness, it’s critical for women to be the CEOs of their own health,” says Shriver. “Approach your visit to the doctor like a reporter. Bring a notebook, write down your symptoms, and be detailed. If something still doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel heard, get a second opinion. Persist. Advocating for your own health and for your loved ones can be daunting, but it’s how we move the needle and keep pushing 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 summit on aging where we spoke to groundbreakers across industries on the topic. Everyone agreed we need to radically reframe aging as a society. Instead of aging being something to fear, we need to start viewing it as the gift that it is. Today, I feel as young as I ever have.”
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Schwarzenegger is also grateful to have learned so much about health from her mother. Lucky for us, she shared with Prevention the one thing she would tell her younger self.
“The importance of paying attention to caring for your body when you’re young has huge benefits in the long run. Focusing on your gut and brain health when you’re young is so helpful and has such huge benefits on how you feel as you get older,” 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 you age and how you feel in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.”
While it may be best to start on your health journey at a young age, Shriver is showing us all how to advocate for ourselves now—and that’s something we can get behind.
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