National Nutrition Week 2022: The need for micronutrients is also on the higher end for women in different stages of their life
Having nutritious food should be an endeavor for each woman. Image courtesy Moneycontrol
While women still struggle to get their deserved rights in India, their health is something that they should not have to struggle for. A woman goes through several different stages throughout her life and hence her nutritional requirements are different as well.
During adolescence, when menarche occurs, apart from a healthy balanced diet, the major nutrient in focus is iron to keep up with the blood loss. Some rich sources of iron include organic meat, seeds, whole grains, and seafood. But one important aspect to note for better absorption of iron-rich foods is consuming it with foods rich in vitamin C like lemon, guava, orange, and amla. Another thing to remember to avoid preventing the absorption of iron is to not consume it with tea or coffee. Make sure to keep a gap of at least 20-30 minutes between your meals and tea or coffee. Having an overall high protein diet coupled with a good amount of fiber through fruits and vegetables is also advisable.
The need for micronutrients is also on the higher end for women in different stages of their life. Vitamin D not only keeps bone health intact but also plays an important role in female reproductive health. Vitamin B complex is another set of important micronutrients that adds to the well-being of women. They help in keeping the energy levels in check and also help in having strong hair and nails. These vitamins play a significant role during and after pregnancy, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, easing nausea and avoiding pre-eclampsia which may subsequently require full time medical care and multi-disciplinary treatment.
Another important nutrient for women is calcium. The hormonal changes post-menopause lead to a high loss of calcium in turn compromising bone health which we call osteoporosis. Thus, having optimal calcium intake through sources like milk and milk products, seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables, throughout adulthood is important.
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is becoming increasingly common in women during their active reproductive age and largely affects the female population. It is an implication of poor metabolic health, thus keeping that in check is important. Having small and frequent meals with a good amount of protein and fiber and less processed and junk foods is advisable. Proper hydration and regular physical activity are also very important for women to maintain overall health.
Having PCOS can be considered an issue of poor metabolic health, which if not taken care of in time, could lead to other metabolic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, etc. Keeping the diet rich in adaptogens like ginger, garlic, Shatavari, Mulethi , etc. is known to reduce oxidative stress and increase wellbeing in women. Sleep is another very important component of women’s health as it has a direct impact on hormonal health, thus maintaining a proper and regular sleep cycle is very important for women.
While women put in their all to raise and take care of the family, the one thing that they often miss is their health, hence they fall prey to different health problems during different stages of their life. The need for healthy eating paired with stage-specific nutrition intake and advice from professionals for doing the same is the need of the hour for good health and well-being for women.
The author is Clinical Dietician, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai. Views are personal.
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