Contributed by- Saumya Shatakshi, Senior Nutritionist
Women deal with mood swings, cramps, energy drains and headaches and then there is job stress, household management, maintaining relationships and looking impeccably gorgeous while doing it all. All this and much more is all in a day’s work for many women. And where do you think all the energy comes from? Apart from the most important element of family support and love, food that they eat have a unique role to play.
They experience unique health issues and conditions from pregnancy and menopause to hormonal imbalances, cervical and breast cancer, urinary tract infections, thyroid problems, etc. Hence, what they eat needs to be watched carefully. Nutritional needs may vary depending on the age, weight and activity levels. Listed here are few common health challenges faced by women and what they should add to their diet to score better on health.
Women experience unique health issues and conditions from pregnancy and menopause to hormonal imbalances, cervical and breast cancer, urinary tract infections, thyroid problems, etc. Hence, their nutritional needs vary depending on the age, weight and activity levels. Lets have a look at women-friendly food to match up with various health issues.
Hormones like estrogen, adrenaline and insulin are important chemical messengers that can have an impact on the overall health. They are secreted by various glands and organs, including thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries and pancreas. The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout our body and if one or more is even slightly imbalanced it can cause major health problems. To begin with, get a hormone test done to know of any imbalances. And if any imbalance is detected, a suitable diet along with medical advice should be followed.
These hormones can be balanced in a natural way by including the following foods in your diet:
- Almonds: Eleven almonds a day [one serving size] or more can help to maintain hormonal balance.
- Avocados: Having half an avocado a day can help in providing great health benefits of its monounsaturated fatty acids, fibres, potassium, vitamins C and E, and lutein.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria or any other infectious organisms invade any part of the urinary tract. It can occur in both women and men, but because of the anatomical difference women tend to suffer more from it.
The most important dietary recommendation for a person suffering from UTI is to increase the consumption of liquids. Following things can be included in the diet:
- Probiotics: One serving of probiotic drink or yoghurt can help in combating the infection.
- Cranberry Juice: Drinking a glass of fresh cranberry or blueberry juice first thing in the morning can help in preventing UTI.
Osteoporosis is caused by bone loss, or the loss of bone density and tissue. Usually, it is normal to lose some bone density as we age, but there are some people who are at risk of losing a greater amount than others and developing osteoporosis. Women above 40 should get a bone density test to ward off any complications. Also, the risk of bone loss can be lowered by eating a diet rich in nutrients like:
- Milk, yogurt, cheese: 3 serving of dairy can provide the required amount of calcium to our body.
- Egg: 2 eggs a day can provide us a good amount of protein.
- Fortified breakfast cereals: cereals are boosted or fortified with vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D. One serving of cereals daily can provide enough nutrients to our body.
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism has become a common health issue these days. The symptoms include fatigue, depression, constipation, mood swings, and many other serious health issues. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid disorder, adding following food in your diet can improve the thyroid functioning:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Adding a portion of these vegetables in your food can help in improving the thyroid functioning. Example: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radish, Turnips and Wasabi
- Brazilian Nuts: They are the richest dietary source of selenium, which is essential in converting thyroxine to its active form, T3. Having 3 of these nuts on a daily basis can provide a lot of health benefits.
- Whole grain: Whole-grain foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, and rice are high in nutrients in addition to fibre, which can help with bowel regularity.
- Fresh fruits: Fruits like blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes, and green peppers are rich in antioxidants, nutrients that are known to lower risk for heart disease.
- Beans: Beans are full of energy as they contain protein, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, and loads of vitamins and minerals.
Breast cancer is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Some of these factors, such as age, family history, genetics, and gender, cannot be controlled. Breast cancer can start in different places, grow in different ways, and they require different kinds of treatment. Following foods are considered part of a healthy diet, and they may help to prevent the development or progression of breast cancer:
- Colourful fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, onions, citrus fruits, pears and peaches.
- Foods rich in fibre, such as whole grain, beans and legumes
- Soya bean products
- Low fat milk and dairy products
- Foods particularly spices with anti-inflammatory properties
Foods to be avoided
There is no such “good” or “bad” food. Everything should be eaten in moderation. But there are some foods that have a negative impact on a female’s health than others and should be avoided whenever possible:
- If you are trying to conceive then you must not have alcohol, redmeat, sword fish, and low fat yoghurt.
- If a female is trying to lose weight then it is important to avoid white bread, diet soda, fruit juices, and artificial sweeteners.
- To have a good overall health one must avoid having extra-large coffees, non-fat milk, and canned vegetables.
Good health starts with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein such as seafood, poultry and beans.
It’s time to add these foods in your “buy” and “do-not-buy” list!
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