Having A Healthy Nutrition As A Woman
Today’s world is nothing if not fast-changing, and as a result, many people do not have the luxury of a healthy nutrition and lifestyle. For women, this situation is even more accentuated, as society is adding its own set of pressures when it comes to how women need to look and what they are allowed to eat. Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and nutrition can improve one’s general well being, and when it comes to women, in particular, it can reduce PMS, increase fertility, ease symptoms of menopause, make pregnancy and nursing much easier, and can keep their bones healthy and strong over a long period of time.
When children, boys, and girls have more or less the same diet and nutrition. At this stage, children’s development is mainly focused on the development of the brain and the body as a whole. But when puberty kicks in, things change. This is the period when both boys and girls go through physical and hormonal changes that may require more or less of certain nutrients. This also means that their respective diets need to meet these changes in development.
Girls during Childhood and Early Teens
At this stage during a woman’s life, her nutrition and diet should be comprised of a lot of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Two particular nutrients need to be given the most attention
Iron – Iron is important for maintaining healthy blood cells. For girls, keeping track of their intake of iron becomes more relevant after they begin to menstruate. During every period, women also lose small amounts of iron. This is why women tend to be, on average, more anemic than men. In fact, 10% of Women from the United States have an iron deficiency, while 5% have iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms of this lack of iron can present themselves in the form of fatigue, weakened immunity, and overall impaired efficiency at work or school.
When it comes to girls before puberty, their iron intake should be around 8mg per day. After their first period, however, this iron intake should be raised to around 15mg. Some good sources of iron are foods such as spinach, beef, turkey, chicken, lentils, tuna, and beans, among others.
Calcium – Bones need calcium to grow and maintain themselves. As a result, this element is required throughout anyone’s entire life. But during adolescence and early adulthood, calcium is increasingly important. Good sources of calcium come from dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. These foods have the added bonus of also containing Vitamin D, which better facilitates the absorption of calcium into the body. Various vegetables such as kale, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli are also good sources of calcium.
Women during their Childbearing Years
Besides iron and calcium, women during their childbearing years also need to take these elements into account, especially if they are, or will become pregnant.
B12 – Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy central nervous system. Women who are vegan and vegetarian may have a slight deficiency of this vitamin as it is predominantly found in meats, and to a lesser extent in dairy.
Folic Acid – Just like vitamin B12, folic acid aids the nervous system by preventing neural tube degradation such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Many processed foods are fortified with folic acid, but most women get their daily dose from leafy greens – which are a great source. Nevertheless, some doctors recommend folic acid supplements for women undergoing pregnancy.
Vitamin D – Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, as well as dairy products and egg yolks, contain the most vitamin D. It is also naturally absorbed from the sun, but at higher latitudes, exposure to the sun may be limited over the course of the year. In this case, you may need to consult your doctor to see whether you might need to be tested for your vitamin D levels.
Omega-3 – This fatty acid plays an important role in the body, especially in the healthy development of the brain and nerve cells. Omega 3 was also observed to help prevent premature births and to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Choline – According to some studies, choline can help prevent neural degradation and neural tube defects. Luckily, however, choline is found peanuts, milk, liver, and eggs. In fact, several eggs per week can ensure a healthy intake of choline.
Women During the Senior Years
During and after menopause, the female body begins to change again. The level of iron is no longer of any major concern, but at the same time, the requirement for other elements such as calcium and B12 increase because of the body’s raising inefficiency at metabolizing them. With the passage of time, the kidneys also become less efficient at removing toxins from the body. The answer here comes in the form of more fluids so as to counteract this inefficiency.
What Foods and Drinks to Avoid
The no.1 health issue that affects most women is heart disease, and certain foods contribute to that. Other foods or drinks, on the other hand, may increase your chances of putting on weight, influence your hormones, or even affect you and your baby during pregnancy. Now, regardless of what effects they might have, here are some foods and drinks that you should avoid as much as possible.
- Alcohol – Women who are, or who wish to become pregnant need to avoid alcoholic drinks. Several scientific studies have shown that even five alcoholic drinks, or less, can affect the fertility of a woman who wants to become pregnant.
- Swordfish – We are all aware of the existence of mercury in fish. Being higher in the marine food chain, swordfish and tilefish are particularly contaminated with mercury.
- Fat-Free Milk and Yogurt – Contrary to popular belief, fat is good for you. It is actually sugar that makes us gain weight. When it comes to low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt, the healthy fat is removed and is usually replaced with sugar. Vitamin D is also fat-soluble, meaning that it needs fat to be properly absorbed into the body. Skim milk, however, will not be able to help you with that. A better alternative here is Greek yogurt and whole milk, obviously.
- Coffee Creamers and Margarine – Milk and butter alternatives such as coffee creamers and margarine are oftentimes filled with trans fats which are bad for you. Trans fats can have a direct effect on your heart. Regular butter is always a better alternative for margarine, and when it comes to creamers, a splash of whole milk should do. If not, you can choose a better alternative such as coconut milk.
- White Bread – White bread is nothing more than refined carbohydrates. And your body handles these refined carbohydrates the same way as it does sugar. Avoid sugar as much as possible.
- Fruit Juice – It is important to remember that pretty much all fruits are made predominantly out of sugar – fructose, to be more exact. They also have a lot of important nutrients and minerals, and most importantly, fiber. It is this fiber that doesn’t allow you to eat more than two or, maybe, three oranges at once. But if you juice these fruits, much of those fibers are gone and you’re only left with the sugar. Fruit juices may seem healthy, mostly on the account that they’re made out of freshly squeezed fruit, but the reality is quite the opposite.