Wellness and Nutrition for Women
“If you check the health of a woman, you check the health of society.”
Women make up half of the population and she raises the other half. A woman is the very quintessence of a family. She plays the vital roles of a daughter, sister, wife and a mother. However, while performing so many roles and looking after the needs of her loved ones, she often tends to ignore her own health and nutritional requirements.
As children, boys and girls have similar energy and nutrient requirements. However, as puberty sets in, the nutritional needs of women vary from that of men. This is because of the changes in a woman’s body primarily due to hormones. From the total calorie consumption to the needs of micronutrients like iron, calcium and vitamins varies from that of men. This calls for some nutrition tips that are special for women to help boost their health and wellness.
Nutrition Tips for Women:
The amount of calories required for each woman varies depending on her age, metabolism and level of physical activity. In general, women require fewer calories compared to men. Just like the energy requirements, the nutrient requirement of women too differs from those of men. Here are some nutrition tips for women that will help build their overall health and wellness.
· Iron: Women in the reproductive age, experience blood loss due to menstruation every month, which can lead to iron loss and cause iron deficiency anaemia.
Hence, eating foods that are rich in iron like meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian options like spinach, fenugreek leaves, dates and lentils must be included in the diet.
Vitamin C helps absorb iron from the food. Therefore, it is a good idea to eat iron and Vitamin C rich foods in the same meal. Sources of Vitamin C are tomatoes, lemon, citrus fruits, broccoli.
· Calcium: Up to the age of 19 years, calcium requirements for both men and women are the same. Women usually start losing bone density from 35 years of age and more after attaining menopause. In addition, calcium needs increase during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
In order to prevent osteoporosis at a later stage, women must up their calcium intake early on.
Good sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, soya beans and fish. Milk and milk products were considered to be good sources of calcium but today there is evidence that it is no longer so and it leeches calcium from the bones rather providing calcium for the bones.
Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium from the food. While we get most of the vitamin D from sunlight, food sources of Vitamin D are oily fish, eggs, dairy and food fortified with Vitamin D.
· Folic acid: This is an essential vitamin for both men and women. The deficiency of which can lead to folate deficiency anaemia which is common in both the genders.
Pregnant women require this vitamin in abundance especially during the first 3 months to reduce the risk of birth defects like spina bifida in the unborn child.
Rich sources of folic acid are spinach, brown rice, peas, wholegrains, beans, Brussel sprouts and fresh fruits.
“Health is a state of mind. Wellness is a state of being.”
Just like physical health, mental health is important for both men and women. Men and women respond to life stressors differently. For women, the response can be more complex for their bodies and minds react in unique ways. Nutrition for women’s wellness is a critical part of their health.
In the modern world, women take up multiple roles and are constantly on the move from fulfilling career responsibilities to family duties. That means women take on bigger mental and physical loads. Therefore, it is imperative to look at women’s wellness through a lens that recognises her varying concerns.
Women undergo constant shift in the hormones from puberty, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. As age advances, the hormonal changes increase. All this can result in fatigue, infertility, bloating, hair loss, irritability, mood swings, blood sugar fluctuations and problems in concentration.
Here are a few pointers that can help women maintain equilibrium for her physical and mental wellness:
· Eat more of natural, unprocessed foods. Include plenty of wholegrains, vegetables, fruits and nuts in your diet.
· Add a 10- minute morning ritual to your daily schedule like meditating, yoga, breathing exercises or even writing down your plans for the day. This will boost your mind and help you keep your focus through the day.
· Get enough sleep – Getting at least 7-8 hours sleep is essential for the mind and body. Lack of sleep is linked to many health problems.
· Add some form of physical activity or exercise to your day – Pick up a sport that you love like badminton, swimming, volleyball or just simple walking or jogging can keep the cortisol levels (stress hormone) at bay. Thirty minutes of physical activity every day is good for the heart as well as the bones.
· Cut down on white sugar – Eating too much of white sugar has shown to have adverse effects on the heart, blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and it also causes weight gain. So reduce intake of artificial sugars instead indulge in natural sugars from fruits.
· Keep yourself hydrated – Most women often tend to drink less water while multitasking. One must aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Apart from this, avoid caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, which can increase urine output and can cause dehydration. Instead, drink green tea or sparkling water or coconut water.
· Do not skip meals – Working women often end up missing one meal a day during weekdays. Instead of having three large meals a day, try to eat small portions 5-6 times a day. Include fruits, probiotics like yogurt and buttermilk and nuts in between meals.
· Use technology to your benefit – In a world surrounded by advance gadgets, it is a good idea to use them to your advantage. Keep reminders on your phone, jot down your thoughts, and make a grocery list for the week and save it on your handset. This will help you empty all your thoughts from the mind and will help you focus on the work at hand.
A woman’s health and wellness needs change with time, these are some tips, which will help cover the basics for evergreen healthy habits. Nutritional change for women’s wellness is the need of the hour and with the help of these nutrition tips, women can get on with a healthy lifestyle easily.