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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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Hypertension In Women

Karishma Chawla

Karishma Chawla
27 October 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.

Hypertension is quite often considered a men’s health problem, but that’s a myth. In fact, men and women have a similar risk of developing high blood pressure. But after the onset of menopause, women actually face higher risk than men of developing high blood pressure. Although prior to 45 years of age, men are slightly more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing inside the lining of arteries. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the force increases and stays higher than normal for a period of time.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer. If untreated, it can lead to a major health set back and cause many complications. In most cases, there may not be any symptoms of high blood pressure. Sometimes, in case of sudden or severe increase in B.P., individuals may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or nosebleeds. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and kidney failure. These problems worsen when high blood pressure is present along with diabetes. For women, high blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and child.

What causes it? Reasons for high blood pressure

Eat Breakfast

• Genetic factors: Hereditary factors – one of the leading reasons for high blood pressure, which worsen when the environmental factors are not healthy.

• Body weight: Obesity and diabetes along with their associated disorders are often associated with hypertension.

• Age:Chances of a high blood pressure diagnosis increase steeply with age. But research now shows that high blood pressure can affect adolescents and the young as well.

• Gender: Risk is greater in men than women, but after menopause, the difference decreases.

• Dietary factors: Some dietary factors that can contribute to high blood pressure include excess calories coming saturated fats, diets that contain high sodium foods, and less calcium and magnesium in the diet

• Potassium: Decrease in potassium intake and low intake of high potassium foods like fruits and vegetables can also lead to increase in heart rate and high blood pressure.

• Contraceptives: Certain oral contraceptive pills may lead to high blood pressure

• Lifestyle: Sedentary lifestyle devoid of exercise can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress, smoking, tobacco intake, and alcohol intake also lead to increase in high blood pressure.

• Other medical conditions High blood pressure can also be a result of other medical conditions such as kidney problems, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Hormone issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and Hyperaldosteronism (increase in aldosterone) and preeclampsia in pregnancy are responsible for high blood pressure diagnosis.

Measures to reduce high blood pressure

Reduce sodium intake
It is important to note that it’s not the consumption of salt but excessive consumption of sodium is a concern. Sodium is a compound found naturally in foods. One teaspoon of salt contains 2400 milligrams of sodium and the amount recommended for daily consumption is approximately the same. The amount of recommended sodium intake reduces further to approximately 1500 mg under conditions such as hypertension, kidney issues, water retention, and heart condition to name a few. But these problems are usually correlated with high consumption of sugar and fat. Hence it is beneficial to avoid foods such as processed foods, salted snacks, pickles, papad, sauces and instant soups. These are some known sources of excess sodium and not the usual home cooked foods.

It’s important to avoid sprinkling excess salt at the table. Rather use adequate salt during cooking and experiment with reduced sodium salt after conferring with your physician. Tata Salt Liteis a good option for those looking to reduce sodium intake. It provides 15% reduced sodium than regular salt. Inclusion of herbs and spices like like coriander, ginger, turmeric, mint, garlic or lemon juice can also help improves the taste and flavour of the food.

Improve intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium How to Increase Immune System
This can be done by inclusion of low-fat dairy products for calcium and green leafy vegetables for magnesium. Fruits and vegetables rich in potassium are bananas, watermelon, tomatoes, oranges, sweetlime, leafy vegetables, milk and almonds. Eating three to five servings of these foods daily would ensure sufficient potassium intake and regulate blood pressure.

Reduction in refined carbohydrates
Though this is not a direct connection, but the preparations and the nature of these foods usually contain excess sodium for taste and preservation purposes. Add omega 3 foods such as fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds to reduce blood pressure.

DASH DietDash Diet has been found to be a good approach for the treatment of hypertension. This diet emphasizes consumption of fruits, vegetables, low sodium, and low-fat dairy foods. It also includes low amounts of saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol to reduce blood pressure. This includes whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and other foods rich in potassium, calcium, omega 3 and magnesium.

Lifestyle MeasuresLifestyle measures include regular exercise of 30 minutes daily, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga, avoidance of rage and anger, adequate sleep, low alcohol intake, no smoking and normal body weight with low body fat percentage.

High blood pressure can affect the physical, professional, personal and economical life of any individual. As women tend to juggle multiple priorities, managing their own health often takes a back seat. It is advisable to take some judicious measures such as dietary and lifestyle modifications in order to prevent the onset of hypertension, control it and minimize its risks.



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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