As per saying, Women are the roots of society, she is a gender with great potential, where there is a woman, magic is all around. A woman’s love is in action. She looks and cares with her heart and feels with her eyes. A woman in all households is the bank where her family members deposit all worries, problems, aggression, emotions, etc. A woman is a cement that keeps all relationships, family intact and her love, care, and feeling for others lasts for life long. A woman’s health is her capital.
“Women’s health needs to be front and center – it often isn’t, but it needs to be.” – Cynthia Nixon, actress, and activist.
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”– Eleanor Brownn, novelist.
As woman, we usually neglect our own dietary needs, due to lack of time, feeding the male members a healthy diet due to social pressure, and putting the needs of your family before your own, which directly or indirectly hinders the physical and mental health of a woman, which makes her cranky, restless, frustrated, anemic, and malnourished.
The diets of women in India are often too poor to meet their nutritional needs. Women have unique nutritional needs at every stage of life. One can control cravings, manage weight, boost energy, and look, feel best by eating well and balanced diet. Balanced and adequate nutrition is important for a woman not only because it helps them to be productive members of society, but also because of the direct effect on maternal nutrition for future generations. Studies show children of malnourished woman are more likely to face low birth weight, lower resistance to infections, short state, hindrance in cognitive and mental development, and higher risk of diseases during early stages.
Basic nutritional requirements of woman
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are macronutrients, which are needed in large amounts. Carbohydrates are either simple or complex and are major sources of energy in all human diets. They provide energy of 4 kcal/g. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates are healthier than low-fibre diets based on refined and processed foods. Proteins are primarily structural and functional components of every living cell. Protein requirements vary with age, physiological status, and stress. More proteins are required by growing infants and children, pregnant women and individuals during infections, illness or stress. Proteins also provide energy of 4kcal/g. Fats are a concentrated source of energy providing 9Kcal/g and are made up of fatty acids in different proportions. They are also sources of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is necessary to have adequate and good quality fat in the diet with sufficient polyunsaturated fatty acids in proper proportions for meeting the requirements of essential fatty acids.
Vitamins and minerals constitute the micronutrients and are required in small amounts. These nutrients are necessary for physiological and biochemical processes by which the human body acquires, asimilates, and utilizes food to maintain good health and activity. They must be present in the diet as they cannot be synthesized in the body. Vitamins are essential for numerous body processes and maintenance of the structure of the skin, bone, nerve, eyes, brain, blood, and mucous membrane. Minerals are inorganic elements found in body fluids and tissues. They are required for the maintenance and integrity of skin, hair, nails, blood, and soft tissues. They also govern nerve cell transmission, acid/base, fluid balance, enzyme, and hormone activity as well as the blood-clotting processes.
Key nutrients for woman in all stages
• Calcium: For healthy bones and teeth, woman needs to eat a variety of calcium-rich food. Calcium keeps bones strong and healthy and lowers the risk of osteoporosis, a bone disease in which the bones become brittle and break easily. 1000mg per day is a daily requirement of calcium and it increases by 20 to 30 percent during pregnancy and lactation.
• Vitamin D: It works as calcium’s partner to promote healthy bones. It’s also involved in cell growth, immune function, and reducing inflammation in the body. Daily requirements are 600 IU.
• Iron: Women often have low levels of iron in their body either because of heavy periods or they get too little of this nutrient in their diet. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. 18mg of iron should be taken daily. During pregnancy and lactation requirements increases by 30 to 40 percent. Iron is best absorbed when consumed with Vitamin C.
• Folic Acid (folate): This nutrient is necessary for red blood cell formation. Young women are at greater risk of developing folate deficiency anemia. During pregnancy, folic acid helps to form the neural tube that will develop into your baby’s brain and spinal cord. 400 micrograms of this nutrient are required daily.
• Omega-3 fatty acids: As women age, their estrogen levels decline which can put them at higher risk of developing heart disease. It helps maintain heart rhythm, reduces blood pressure, lowers blood fat levels, and even helps to ease menstrual pain. These fatty acids can act as an anti-inflammatory for your body.
• Magnesium: It helps in regulating many different chemical reactions in your body, maintaining healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels. It keeps muscles and nerves working as they should. It also helps your body to produce protein. 310mg is daily requirements for women aged19 to 30 years and 320mg requirements for 31 years to 50 years age group.
• Fiber: It is important to include more fiber-rich foods in your diet, as these help regulate blood sugar levels and metabolic rate. As you age, your metabolism slows down.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating greens, boil vegetables, dals, fruits, no fat diet. Eating the right kind and right quantity of fat is important. Women typically have less muscle, more body fat, and are smaller than men, They need fewer calories to maintain healthy body weight and activity level. A moderately active woman should have 1600-1800 calories a day. Women who are more physically active may require 2000-2200 calories a day. Women, like men, should enjoy a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups, as a balanced eating pattern is a cornerstone of good health. Studies show that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to eat healthy and nutritious food.
Eating healthy helps your body and brain to get the energy you need to work and be physically active and alert. Your body gets the essential vitamins and minerals so your immunity boosts up and can lower the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, etc. One can also maintain an ideal and healthy weight. Physical activity is an important part of a woman’s health. Regular physical activity helps with muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and stress management. The food choices women make each day will affect their health later on in life.
A healthy balanced diet includes:
• Toned milk and milk products like Paneer curd dessert cheese.
• Whole fruits like apple, oranges, mangoes, papaya, banana, pear, Guava, and berries.
• All vegetables, green leafy (methi, palak, bath, sarso), root vegetables (potatoes, sweet Potatoes, Arbi ), red and orange vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, lemon, bell peppers), and any subgroup such as ghia, tori, lauki, peas, beans, etc.
• whole grains such as buckwheat, makki ka atta, bajra, jowar, ragi, Quinoa, oats, and brown rice.
• Protein in form of whole pulses, lean meats, eggs, different nuts, seeds, soya and soya products, besan and besan products.
• Limited amount of fats includes good quality fat which has omega 3-fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids which include, pure ghee, olive oil, peanut, canola oil, white butter, mustard oil, mixed dry fruits like almonds, peanuts, cashew, walnuts Old raisins, different seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, fishes like salmon and tuna.
• Limited amount of sugar and sugar products. Add jaggery, dates, raisin to the diet.
• Consume plenty of water and beverages in the form of fresh lime water, coconut water, mango panna, butter milk, Lassi, fresh juices, milkshakes, clear soups, and green tea.
• Minimize the use of processed foods rich in salt, sugar, and fats.
• Avoid overeating to prevent overweight and obesity. Exercise regularly and be physically active to maintain ideal body weight.
Tips for women to remain happy and healthy
• Love, pamper your body and yourself.
• Listen, dance to the music of your choice every day.
• Do yoga, meditation, and any physical exercise every day.
• Go for facial, hair spa, and massage often.
• Watch your favorite shows, movies, and series.
• Join, do your hobbies, activities of your choice.(Find a ‘ME’ time for yourself).
• Meet your friends, relatives, colleagues more often.
• Cook and eat your favorite food items in a healthy environment.
• Don’t skip or postpone your breakfast and dinner. (which usually a woman does).
• Avoid overeating and gapping between your meals.
• Rest and relax when your body demands. Don’t exert and overwork.
• Visit your favorite places, people, when you desire.
• Listen to your body’s demands; do not chase anyone’s diet regime and lifestyle.
At the End of the day, your health is your responsibility. One should have a belief, that women’s health is extremely important physically, mentally, and emotionally. And never forget, who runs the world: A woman.