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Women’s Health: Nutritionist’s Guide On Taking Care Of Your Health

Women are known for their multitasking skills, putting others before self, the sacrifices they make, their risk-taking abilities, their resilience, their immense strength, adaptability, and so much more.

It is extremely important to take care of the food they eat, the nutrition they get and more so the nutrients they absorb. Making healthier choices now will make sure you stay healthy later in life. It is a known fact when a woman eats healthy, her entire family eats healthy and stays healthy.

Healthy eating does not necessarily mean eating exotic fruits and vegetables or making complicated recipes. Healthy eating is mostly about eating clean foods, fresh produce, local and seasonal foods and staying active with a purpose in life [1].

Women have special nutrition needs owing to the many changes their bodies go through. At every stage in life, the nutritional needs are immense, whether its adolescence, childbearing age, middle age, perimenopause or menopause [2][3].

However, there are a few nutrients that need to be consciously added to the diet so that certain ailments can be avoided later in life. We should avoid staying away from supplements and try to get all nutrition from food itself. Listed below are a few nutrients and their food sources that need to add every day in our meals.

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Calcium & Vitamin D:

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone health and to prevent loss in bone density as one grows older. Vitamin D allows the Calcium to get absorbed in the bones, and a deficiency in Vitamin D will render the consumption of Calcium inefficient [4].

Food sources: All dairy products, sesame seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables, and seafood. Vitamin D: Skin exposure to sunlight at least 30 minutes through the week. Dairy foods, non-vegetarian foods, and supplementation if necessary.

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Iron

Sufficient Iron levels in the body ensure that the oxygen supply to the organs is enough for the proper functioning. If the Iron levels stoop below the required levels, then there will be a drop in oxygen to the brain, muscles, tissues, and other organs.

Due to this, one starts feeling low, depressed, tired, the hair and skin lose the glow and ones looks pale or starts losing hair. A prolonged deficiency will alter the proper functioning of the organs [5][6].

Food sources: Green leafy vegetables, fruits, millets like finger millet and rajgira and Garden cress seeds. It's best to combine iron-rich foods with a vit C source like lemon, amla, citrus fruits to enhance the absorption of the Iron.

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Proteins:

This is an important nutrient as this forms the collagen. Collagen has great tensile strength and is the main component of fascia, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and skin. It forms the cushion between joints and a reduction in sufficient protein can lead to degradation of the cartilage [7].

Food sources: A variety in the diet with different lentils, millets vegetables in every meal will ensure you get different amino acids. These amino acids will ensure you get collagen as well. Nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy products, at least five different lentils in one week and regularly having millets ensures a good supply of amino acids.

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Omega 3 fatty acids:

This nutrient helps fight inflammation in the body, protects against autoimmune diseases and improve mental disorders. It is also essential in maintaining cardiovascular health [8].

Food sources: Fish, chia, hemp and flax seeds, walnuts, seaweed, algae, and certain oils.

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Vitamin B12:

Our bodies do not make this vitamin, and hence it is essential to get these vitamins from food sources. This is available in animal foods majorly. Fermented foods are also a rich source of Vitamin B12. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 is quite common and can lead to anaemia, making you feel tired and lethargic as well as depressed [9].

Food sources: Animal products, dairy foods, fermented foods as pickles, sauerkraut, fermented brine vegetables, yoghurt.

A few tips that go a long way in ensuring one stays healthy and consumes these nutrients every single day [10]:

• Eating three main meals and two snacks in a day. This food should have a variety on the plate to ensure a supply of all the micronutrients.

• Regular physical activity to ensure the metabolism is healthy and the digestion is proper. This will also ensure that the nutrients are getting absorbed in the body.

• Limit the sugar intake to 2 tsp a day, although it is best avoided

• Alcoholic beverages to be kept to a minimum.

• Refined processed foods inhibit the absorption of nutrients. It is best consumed very occasionally.

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On A Final Note…

Women have special nutritional needs. They have hormones that fluctuate every month, they menstruate and lose blood every month, they go through a lot emotionally and physically through there life like marriage, childbirth, lactation, child-rearing and later menopause.

Hence, it is imperative to look after their health first. A household that has healthy women have a family that stays healthy and makes better lifestyle choices.