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Nutrition Needs Of Women At Different Stages Of Life

Karishma Chawla

Karishma Chawla
25 August 2020

This article is authored by Karishma Chawla. She is a practising nutritionist and a weight loss expert. She advises people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or to achieve a specific health-related goal.

Human life is a continuum. Studies have well proven that what you eat and how you live your life has an impact on your heart, your blood vessels, your liver, your moods, strength of your bones, and your chances of developing certain diseases. Our nutritional needs change from time to time. The nutritional needs of women mainly include complex carbohydrates, adequate protein and moderate healthy fats but at each life stage, there are subtle changes in women’s bodies that can impact overall health and need to be addressed by making certain changes in the diet. This can have a huge impact on health and overall well-being.

Let’s look at few important stages in a woman’s life and dietary requirements.

Stage 1: Initial stages of growth - As an infant, toddler and a child- Eat Breakfast
It is important to focus on the gut health of the child. Since it is an opportunity for beneficial bacteria growth and we now know that 70-80% of the immunity lies in the gut and this fends for us for life. Thus, it is an excellent idea to have your child be breast-fed (rich in beneficial bacteria) unless fundamental limitations and then weaning off to whole foods rich in fibre.

Since it’s easier to train the taste buds of the child at an earlier stage, parents should definitely take this opportunity to feed the child with a variety of whole nutrient dense foods in the most creative way.

Stage 2: Growing years and embracing adolescence
It is important to focus on the daily protein requirement during this age. Your muscles, hair, skin and nails are made of protein. Protein is essential for building the right quality of hormones as well. Hormone health extremely important for women considering it affects fertility and conception. The Indian diet is high in carbohydrates and sometimes the right quantity of protein may be missed. Ensuring at least 3 servings of protein daily can be beneficial. Good sources are milk, curd, paneer, eggs, lean chicken, fish, dals, nuts and seeds.

Similar to achieving one’s daily protein requirement, daily consumption of moderate amount of high-quality fats is also required to boost hormone health. Good sources are ghee, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds. Especially foods rich in omega 3 fats which include walnuts, flax seeds, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Stage 3: Fertility, Conception and Pregnancy
Studies confirm that exercising vigorously for at least 30 minutes a day while maintaining a healthy weight is related to a lower risk of infertility. Consuming meals rich in complex carbohydrates, high on fibre along with good exercise regime helps in insulin sensitivity which is a beneficial factor for fertility and conception. Few examples of complex carbohydrates are jowar, bajra, rajgira and dalia.

Omega 3 rich foods are highly beneficial for fertility like fatty fish, walnuts, and flax seeds along with Omega 3 supplements.

Calcium is equally important during pregnancy for the child and even more important for the mother since the child takes all vitamins and minerals from the mother. This may lead to few deficiencies in the mother most common one being calcium due to multiple pregnancies. Calcium rich foods like milk, curd, paneer, green leafy veggies, sesame seeds and calcium supplementation are beneficial.

Stage 4: Menopause Radish
Menopause – ‘mens’ means month and ‘pausis’ means to stop - refers to the natural process of stopping of the menstrual cycle that occurs at the end of the reproductive years in women.

Most women tend to reach menopause around 40-50 years of age. However, the causes of premature menopause vary from chronic stress, autoimmune diseases, smoking, genetic factors, removal of ovaries, and in some cases, the cause is unknown. Symptoms are irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes and night sweats, anxiety, insomnia, water retention with bloating, headaches and weight gain. Dietary guidelines include complex carbohydrates, adequate protein, calcium rich foods, fermented foods high in beneficial bacteria with addition of super foods like coconut oil, medicinal mushrooms, bone broth, and raw cacao can help.

Making changes to your diet as per your life stage is an important step in ensuring good health as you age. Ensuring a daily protein requirement target is met is essential for women. Use these guidelines to get started on the journey of good health and well-being.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Diet, exercise and sunlight: Three factors women shouldn’t ignore for good bone health

Dr. Dharini Krishnan

Dr. Dharini Krishnan
11 January 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Barring a significant injury or fracture, we rarely tend to think about bone health. Yet, for women, particularly those who are middle-aged or older, this is a vital concern because of the risk of osteoporosis.

In 2013, it was estimated that there were 50 million Indians who were osteoporotic or having low bone mass. Some studies have found that the prevalence of osteoporosis could be as high as 42.5% in women over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis and health complications

Eat Breakfast

Osteoporosis comes from the Latin for “porous bone”, and is a condition where bone tissue loses its density, and becomes weaker and more fragile. Such bones are easily susceptible to breaks, resulting in pain, disability and loss of functionality in everyday life.

Bones, which form the primary supporting framework of the body, grow from birth till our early twenties, which is the period of peak bone mass. Bone is an active tissue that undergoes regular replacement in conditions of health.

In osteoporosis, however, bone formation is outpaced by bone loss, leading to porosity or thinness of bone tissue and brittle bones. Such bones could easily be fractured even in the absence of significant trauma. Such fractures tend to reduce mobility and lead to increased hospitalization and dependence on others.

Why osteoporosis affects women more

Women are particular at risk for osteoporosis because they have lesser bone mass to start with. The geometry and structure of bone have also been increasingly recognized as important risk factors for fracture.

The risk of osteoporosis significantly rises during menopause because of the hormonal changes women undergo at the time. This is because estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining bone health, and the secretion of this hormone falls drastically during menopause.

The importance of protein and calcium in the diet

Skin Care

For some time now, awareness of the importance of calcium for bone health has been growing. Hence, women are advised to consume sufficient amounts of dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya products and nuts.

What many don’t realise is that sufficient levels of protein are just as important for strong bones. After all, protein makes up roughly 50% of bone volume and about one-third of its mass. Daily intake of protein is also necessary to provide the raw materials for bone formation. Unfortunately, research shows that the levels of dietary protein consumed by Indians are actually reducing.

For non-vegetarians chicken, fish and eggs are good sources of protein. For vegetarians, pulses are one of the primary sources of protein, along with dairy products. Daily intake of protein in at least two major meals of the day, particularly in healthy forms such as sambhar or dal is, therefore, vital.

The role of exercise and sunlight

Eat Breakfast

Bone health also requires good muscle health. This makes it necessary to undertake moderate exercise as often as possible. A 45-minute walk six days a week as well as resistance training using the body weight, such as surya namaskaras, can go a long way to building muscles. Importantly, the body also requires Vitamin D to mobilize calcium for bone health. Hence, exposure to peak sunlight between 11am and 3 pm at least twice a week is also vital for bone health.

Osteoporosis can be a serious health problem that disrupts life and limits mobility, particularly for women. However, a healthy diet, rich in calcium and protein, together with exercise, can go a long way in maintaining bone health.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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