As we celebrate the National Nutrition Week 2021 (September 1st to 7th), this would be the right time to talk about women’s health and nutrition. 

This campaign was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 1982 with the objective to raise awareness about the importance of nutrition for the human body.

Women of all age groups deal with various health issues and they are largely linked to nutrition and lifestyle. They have unique nutritional needs that depend on their age, stage of life (like pregnancy and breastfeeding), genetics and physical activity. 

The right food can not only improve their mood, maintain a healthy weight, boost their energy, combat PMS (premenstrual syndrome)/ mood swings, but can also support them through the different stages of their life.

Women often neglect their own health and dietary needs, more than they realize. Either it is due to their busy schedule or because of prioritizing the needs of their family before their own. 

In other cases, they are trying to stick to an extreme diet that leaves them short on vital nutrients and feeling cranky, hungry, and low on energy. Women often try to make up for the deficits in their diet through nutritional supplements. 

However, while the supplements can be very useful in combating acute nutritional shortfalls, they cannot be a replacement or a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. 

Now, let's look at some of the ways that can help women stay healthy, active, and vibrant throughout their ever-changing lives. 

Here are some measures that are essential for women’s health:

1. Choosing ‘good carbs’ and not ‘no carbs’. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body and they play an important role in regulating all bodily functions. Insufficient intake of carbohydrates can lead to irregularities in the menstrual cycle and fertility problems in females. 

Legumes such as lentils or peas, whole grains and certain fruits such as apples and bananas are some sources of good carbs. 

2. Including fruits and vegetables in daily diet. They are high in fibre and low in fat, salt and sugar. Therefore it helps regulate digestion, reduce obesity and also prevents chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. 

They help prevent bone and muscle loss which is common in females with advancing age and fend off ailments such as diabetes and breast cancer. 

3. Saying “No” to sugar. A diet that is high in refined sugar such as those present in sweets, white bread, aerated beverages and chocolates can affect our health adversely. 

Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to acne, mood swings, poor concentration, digestion problems and it can also elevate our cholesterol levels. It can accelerate weight gain and aging in women. Therefore, try limiting the sugar intake to not more than 2 teaspoons a day.

4. Including nuts and fish oil is a great idea. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and adding foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, seafood such as tuna, salmon, sardines, etc., to one's weekly diet plan can have multiple health benefits. 

Studies have revealed that they play a role in preventing stomach cramps and other symptoms during menstruation and also helps relieves postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

5. Staying well hydrated. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water in a day is ideal. It keeps one hydrated and also helps flush out the toxins from the body. 

It helps in weight loss, contributes to healthy skin, and plays a role in preventing menstrual cramps. It is recommended to consume fluids in the form of plain water or fresh fruit and vegetable juices and limit caffeinated and sugary beverages.

6. Exercising regularly. Being physically active can benefit us both physically and mentally. It helps elevate our mood and reduces the risk of emotional disorders such as depression or anxiety. In women, it supports healthy metabolism and helps them maintain a healthy weight. 

Exercise also improves energy levels and plays a vital role in strengthening muscles and bones, especially in women above 40 years of age.

Having a well-balanced diet and staying physically active plays a crucial role in women’s overall health. It is important to recognise the requirements of our bodies at different stages of life as women. 

Women of reproductive age and older can consult their nutritionist to know more about the healthy dietary changes that they can adopt. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.