People say that women are strong, which is undeniably true! However, it isn’t easy to deal with the urban lifestyle, managing hectic work and personal life. The daily stress that a woman deals with, somewhere or the other ends up affecting both her physical and emotional wellbeing.
Hence, it is important to start making healthy behaviours a habit while you're still young, and you're more likely to hold onto them for the rest of your life. In this blog, we will discuss some healthy diets for women and also a few lifestyle choices they should make by the time they reach the big 3-0.
So ladies, even if you have already blown out those 30 candles, don’t worry, there's still time as it is always better late than never!
Understanding Women’s Nutrition Needs
Trying to balance family and work or coping with media pressure to look a certain way can make it difficult to maintain healthy diets for women. But the right diet plays a huge role in supporting through the different stages in a woman’s life. The food and drink choices they make every day leave a great impact on their health in the longer run. Eating healthy more often helps prevent or manage many health problems that affect women.
Men and women have both physiological and metabolic differences. Considering the fact that women’s body is different from their male counterpart, women’s nutrition also differs from men. Women tend to need fewer calories than men but their requirements for certain vitamins and minerals are much higher. Hormonal changes that come with menstruation, childbirth, and menopause leaves women with a higher risk of anaemia and weakened bones, requiring a higher intake of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B9.
But women’s nutrition needs keep changing as their bodies change at different stages of life.
Teen years - Girls between 9 to 18 years need more calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. Girls need 1,300 mg of calcium and 600 IUs of vitamin D every day.
Young adults - Young women need more calories than when they were younger, to support their developing bodies. After 25 years, a woman’s resting metabolism goes down and to maintain a healthy weight, they need to gradually reduce their calories and increase their physical activity.
Before and during pregnancy -During pregnancy, you need more of certain nutrients (protein, calcium, iron, and folic acid) than usual to support your baby’s development.
During breastfeeding - During breastfeeding, women are required to eat healthy foods and drink more water (about 13 cups a day).
What is Healthy Eating?
A healthy diet for women is a cornerstone of their health. Healthy eating means choosing healthy food from all of the food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins), in the correct amounts. Healthy eating also means excluding foods with added sugar, salt, and saturated and trans fats and getting nutrients primarily from food rather than from vitamins or supplements.
Healthy eating helps:
There is a saying - “you are what you eat”. Well, it is definitely true since what you eat becomes the building blocks for all of the cells in your body. And over time, your food choices make a difference in your health.
Here is a list of healthy nutrition for women’s health required for proper body functioning.
1. Calcium for strong bones throughout life
You need calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them strong, regulate heart’s rhythm, and ensure proper functioning of your nervous system. Calcium deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties.
It is vital to include Calcium in your diet because otherwise, your body will take calcium from your bones to ensure normal cell functioning, which can lead to weakened bones or even osteoporosis.
Good sources of calcium:
2. Iron: Why? You may not be getting enough
Iron helps to create the haemoglobin which carries oxygen in your blood and it also maintains healthy skin, hair, and nails. Due to the blood loss during menstruation, women need more than twice the amount of iron than men. While men need around 8 mg of iron daily, women need up to 18 mg (or 27 mg if pregnant). However, many women aren’t getting enough iron in their diets, making iron deficiency anaemia more common in women.
Anaemia depletes your energy, making you feel weak, exhausted, and out of breath after any physical activity. Iron deficiency can also affect your mood, causing depression or mood swings.
Good dietary iron sources include:
How much folate do you need?
Extra folic acid is needed for the growth of new cells. Insufficient folic acid during conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects in the baby. The U.S. FDA recommends that women should consume 400 mcg (micrograms) of folate daily.
Good sources of folate include:
Zinc is required to maintain the health of cells. Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so women who take iron supplements should eat iron-rich foods, which are also a good source of zinc.
Iodine is required for the mental development of the baby. Ways of increasing iodine intake in your daily diet include using iodized salt, eating fish and seafood weekly, or consuming multivitamin supplements that contain iodine and are safe for pregnancy.
5. Vitamin C
It is important for gum, tooth, bone and body tissue formation. The best source of Vitamin C is oranges, but it is also found in other fruits like papaya and strawberries, and vegetables like red capsicum and broccoli.
A Path Towards a Healthier You is Not Hard to Find
The journey towards a healthier you begin with some simple tweaks to your lifestyle. Some exercise, the right diet, and stress-relief plan all play a big role.
Exercise boosts your heart’s health, builds bone and muscle strength, and wards off health problems. Indulge in some physical activity for at least half an hour daily and try adding a couple of days of strength training, too.
If you're too busy to workout, try short bursts of activity throughout the day. Walk more often. A good target is 10,000 steps per day.
Shedding those extra pounds lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
But remember, always aim for a slow, steady drop. Try to lose 1-2 pounds in a week by working out regularly and eating better. You do not need hours of intense exercise every day, any little bit helps. And as you improve, dial up the time and intensity of your workout routine.
Also, focus more on healthy eating as it will go a long way. Start by cutting sugar and salt in your diet and try to avoid sodas and sugar-laced coffee drinks.
It is important to get regular check-ups as your doctor keeps track of your medical history which can help you stay fit and away from any serious diseases.
Your doctor may recommend tests to keep a watch on your health and catch conditions at an early stage early when they're easier to treat. If you have any questions, ask your doctor and make sure you understand things to your satisfaction.
Cutting down stress can take a toll on your health. There are a lot of helpful ways to deal with stress, like -
Making the right choices today can ward off your problems tomorrow.
Always take time every day to invest in your health as it will keep you away from all your health problems and give you a positive outlook.
So, these were some heathy diets for women and a few daily lifestyle tips to help you become the healthiest version of yourself! Start incorporating them in your daily life and it would be much easier to walk towards a longer, healthier life. You can also try &Me – a women’s health brand. It takes care of a woman’s nutritional needs and is a healthy addition to your lifestyle. It’s 100% natural with ayurvedic herbs, vitamins and minerals and has no preservatives, sugar or colour. With &Me, self-care is checked.