Women's health refers to the overall well-being of women, which includes physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
Your everyday eating habits affect your health now and later in life. Choosing to eat healthy often can help prevent or manage many health problems that affect women. Studies show that when a woman eats healthily, everyone in her household is also more likely to eat healthy.
Taking on so many different roles throughout the day/life can often lead to compromising on their health and well-being. So in the context of women’s health, adequate nutrition plays an extremely important role throughout all the life stages.
The female body is biologically developed for reproductive preparedness; from early menstruation to pregnancy and lactation to menopause. Regardless, women must be encouraged, supported, and motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle.
In this article, I aim to systematically summarize the key points and relative perspectives on how to prioritize sustained well-being to encourage long-term wellness.
Reproductive & Sexual Health.
Folate: Folate is important for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as it can help prevent birth defects. It is also important for women's overall reproductive health, as it may improve fertility. Good sources of folate include leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified cereals.
Iron: Iron is important as it is essential for the formation of red blood cells. Women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding may be at risk of iron deficiency anemia. Good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, beans, spinach, and fortified cereals.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids may improve fertility and may also support overall reproductive and sexual health. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Zinc: Zinc plays a role in the production of hormones and the development of eggs. Good sources of zinc include oysters, beef, pork, beans, and fortified cereals.
Physical Health & Performance
Here are some factors that can impact women's physical health and performance:
Physical activity: Regular physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and improving overall physical health. Women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, as well as strength training exercises at least twice per week.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for physical health and athletic performance. Women should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and establish a regular sleep schedule.
Nutrition: Women should aim to consume adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and key micronutrients, such as iron and calcium.
Ageing & Menopause
Aging: As women age, they may experience changes in their physical and mental health, such as a decrease in muscle mass, bone density, and cognitive function. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a balanced and varied diet, and good sleep habits, can help promote healthy aging.
Menopause: Menopause can cause a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy and lifestyle changes, such as regular physical activity, a balanced and varied diet, and stress reduction techniques, can help manage these symptoms.
Bone health: Aging and menopause can increase the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become brittle and weak. Women can promote bone health by consuming adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in many aspects of women's health.
Make Some Me Time & Protect Your Mental Health
Making some time for yourself can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels. Engaging in activities such as exercise, meditation, reading, or spending time with yourself can all help to reduce stress levels. These activities can help you to release tension, reduce anxiety, and promote a sense of well-being. In short, making time for yourself is an important tool for managing stress and promoting good mental health.
Here are some reasons why:
Reducing stress: Me time can be an effective way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Chronic stress can have negative effects on physical and mental health, including an increased risk of heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
Productivity: Good mental health is important for women's productivity and success in various areas of life, including work and personal projects. When women experience good mental health, they are more likely to be focused, motivated, and productive.
Physical health: Chronic stress and mental health disorders can contribute to physical health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.
Overall well-being: Finally, good mental health is important for women's overall well-being and quality of life. They are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, pursue their goals and interests, and enjoy life to the fullest
There is a strong relationship between mental health and nutrition in women. Here are some ways in which nutrition can affect mental health:
Nutrient deficiencies: A lack of key nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium, can contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
Blood sugar imbalances: Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can cause blood sugar imbalances, which can contribute to mood swings, fatigue, and other symptoms of poor mental health.
Inflammation: Consuming a diet high in processed foods and unhealthy fats can contribute to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
Gut health: The gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis, and research has shown that a healthy gut microbiome is important for mental health. Consuming a diet high in fiber and fermented foods can promote a healthy gut microbiome and support mental health.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle!
Here are some key nutrients that play a major role in regulating hormonal production and balance:
Protein: Hormones are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Adequate protein intake is necessary for the production of many hormones, including growth hormone and thyroid hormone.
Healthy Fats: Hormones are made from cholesterol, a type of fat. Consuming healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, can help support hormone production and balance.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is essential for the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Exposure to sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D, but it can also be found in foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products.
Fiber: Adequate fiber intake can help balance hormones by aiding in the elimination of excess hormones from the body. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Aim to limit excessive amounts of caffeine (from black/green tea, coffee & energy drinks)
A multifaceted woman like you deserves only the best of nutrition and health. Make a BOLDMUV towards a healthy lifestyle & embrace a happier future.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2023!
Sonal Sharma (Clinical & Sports Nutritionist)